As seen in the rough advance material, St. John's is a major character in the drama and looks fabulous - it seems at times that the show is an homage to the city. How deliberate is that? " Republic of Doyle was designed to be set here - as I am from here and this is where Perry [Perry Chafe, co-creator with Hawco and Malcolm MacRury]and I conceived it. But it is so important to us that Newfoundland is not rammed down your throat. We want viewers from all over Canada - and the world - to feel this show is for and about them. … But I really hope people enjoy the elements that are specific to Newfoundland that might make the show special. There is so much here in terms of inspiration and beauty. I try to let this fall naturally into the work."
Later that morning, I stand on Holloway Street under blue skies. There's a cold, whipping wind. I'm watching the crew shoot a brief scene in which that young lady cop (Krystin Pellerin), who has a thing for Jake Doyle, interviews some rogue. Hawco arrives and watches the scene on a monitor. I'm standing there taking notes, my hands blue as the sky. Hawco silently hands me two hand-warmers. Only a fictional Doyle, this fella, but decent, like a real Doyle.
The cast and crew then have lunch at Bishop Feild Elementary school, which has been commandeered. My interview with McGinley - who arrived safely after a complicated trip back from Dublin, via London and Toronto - takes place in the principal's office. A quiet-spoken, charming man, McGinley is a theatre veteran doing occasional film and TV roles. That's how Hawco knows him. "I was very taken with the stories and the sense of identity," he says of Republic of Doyle . "I'd been to Toronto many times and was aware of how Newfoundland was perceived. A place apart. But arriving here I was struck by how utterly unique it is. People here don't care what the outside world thinks. They're comfortable in their own skin. The show reflects that. The place, the physical look of St. John's, is part of the fabric of it. And I love it.
"This show is outside my comfort zone, really. I'm the only non-Canadian and I've never done this accent before. It's an enormous challenge. I didn't want to just slide into it, so I've had a lot of coaching. Frankly, I'm fascinated by everything about Newfoundland."
Then we're thrown out of the principal's office - the boss of the school mustn't be a Doyle.
There follows, for me, little St. John's adventures that can only be revealed to a Doyle (or "Dile"). We're not snobs. Not snobs about Republic of Doyle , the show, either. It's light, a gambol of a show. Very Doyle. Doyle isn't only a name. It's a state of mind. Trust me, I know.