"Maybe it'd be a more interesting outcome if the two girls got together and left Shane out of the equation completely" Keith McErlean laughs. The Donegal man is on the phone for a quick chat ahead of the season finale of RTE's hit drama, RAW, and he's keeping tight lipped about what lies in store on Sunday evening.
When we last saw his character, Shane, he was in a bit of hot water. A dodgy wine deal went wrong leaving the would-be manager high and dry and the restaurant down €4000. "He's in a lot of trouble isn't he?" says McErlean. "He's got himself into an awful lot of bother all right, which seems fairly regular for Shane, he seems to be always getting himself into trouble and making mistakes."
The same can't be said for McErlean, who is no stranger to success. He's spent last few years predominantly in the kitchen but was already an established actor when the show began it's five series run. Before RAW he was probably best known as Barry, the youngest of the bachelors from Bachelor's Walk. The RTE comedy was a huge success and provided a platform for himself and IFTA host Simon Delaney.
"I was just lucky" says McErlean of his early success. "Even when we started Bachelor's Walk, I remember the first few days on that and I was going comedy? Irish comedy, really? Is this going to work?" He puts the show's success down to timing and says if it was being broadcast now it would be an entirely different story. "If you put bachelor's walk on the TV now with with three guys living on the dole in a big fancy house on the quays, people would just go what is this? This could never happen", he laughs. "If you just get the timing right and you make a sort of fair representation of what's going on at the time in the country then that helps."
And that's what he thinks RAW and the immensely successful Love/Hate have both managed to do (He's a huge Love/Hate fan himself and tells us he thinks series 3 was particularly strong). There have been plenty of comparisons made between the two series of late but that's not something that McErlean's too worried about."They're very very different shows", he says, "and inevitably people are going to prefer one to the other. RAW is pretty much a family drama and it's one that harks back to the Glenroe days really. Everyone can watch RAW and I think that's part of it's strength. It's hard to get something that can span the generations."
Despite the rise of Love/Hate, RAW has remained popular among viewers and still clocks up high ratings for RTE. The nation held it's breath at the end of series 4 as Geoff lay cradling Pavel at the bottom of the kitchen steps and McErlean himself says he wasn't sure how the public would take the loss of such a popular character.
"It's always difficult if you've got a character in there from the beginning" he explains. "He was there from the first season and was very much loved. People really liked Pavel, plus there was a really strong relationship between Pavel and Geoff. It's always said to lose somebody and it's always difficult for an audience to take that on and I think they dealt with it pretty nicely."
McErlean remains tight lipped about what will happen to Shane in this Sunday's finale. "You'll have to wait and see", he laughs. He admits he'd prefer to see him end up with Zoe, but doesn't rule out the possibility of things ending another way. "You never know what will happen in episode 6", he teases, "but if anything does happen, I don't think it'll be Shane's doing".
Catch the last episode in the current series of RAW on Sunday night at 9.30pm on RTE 1.