In the musical Once, when we meet Girl’s lovable flatmates, they’re in the middle of a heated debate over two Fair City characters. As Girl says, “Fair City is their life passion.” Fair City is an Irish TV soap opera produced by RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éirann). It is the most popular and longest running soap opera in Ireland. The first episode aired on September 18, 1989. Since then, there have been over 4,000 episodes produced and aired.
The show is set in Carrigstown, a fictional suburb in the northside of Dublin. There have been over 130 characters featured on Fair City over its 30 seasons. Though the series originally centered around four families, the focus has shifted and evolved to include a wide community over the show's run. No single family or character dominates the show's narrative. The two characters who are mentioned in Once are Damien Haplin and Suzanne Doyle/Suzanne Doyle Haplin.
Suzanne (portrayed by Sarah Flood) was an iconic character of Fair City for 22 years until she was cut from the show in 2011. An original 1989 member of the show, fans watched Suzanne grow up and navigate many domestic and professional dramas, including her parent's separation, her sister's death, her mother's stroke, a relationship with one of her lecturers, an affair with a murderer, and her unhealthy marriage to Damien Haplin. This last relationship caused some of the most controversial buzz the show has seen.
Damien (portrayed by Maclean Burke) joined the show in 2005. His relationship with Suzanne began not long after, but ended when it seemed to be going nowhere. After Suzanne returned to Ireland from a year in Indonesia, their friendship resumed. When Suzanne ended her relationship with Morgan Dalton, a racist behind the brutal murder of another character, Gabriel Udeze, she began to have feelings again for Damien. At the time, he was in another relationship, but soon after, Damien and Suzanne were engaged.
Suzanne married Damien in 2008. Their honeymoon was immediately postponed when her mother suffered a stroke, a trauma that caused a lot of tension in their marriage. In 2010, Suzanne learned of Damien's infidelity, which spurred a spell of physical violence in their already toxic relationship. Suzanne's abuse of Damien was one of the biggest shocks and dramas of the show's run.