Thursday, February 29, 2024

Hero of the Hour 2023 – Oscar Award Winning Actor James Martin

As the modest ‘An Irish Goodbye’ actor James Martin wins an Oscar, we join those celebrating his truly deserved success and his becoming the first star with Down’s Syndrome to win at the Academy Awards

Many readers of The Steeple Times are big fans of the North Yorkshire born television chef James Martin and one of our readers, Gary Hazell, is involved in distributing his eponymous gin. 50-year-old farmer’s son Mr Martin brings joy to many every Saturday on ITV1 and his “silky smooth, flavor rich gin” most definitely goes down a treat; his passion for cars both classic and modern is also clear and he is most certainly just the kind of role model the nation needs.


After winning a BAFTA in February for his role in the short film An Irish Goodbye and last night – on the very day of his 31st birthday – adding to that with an Oscar at the 95th Academy Awards, another James Martin is now also making waves. Here, indeed, is a Northern Irishman most definitely headed to becoming one of the best-loved and most deserved luminaries of 2023.


This particular James Martin is a rising star actor whose career began when he was a guest on his father Ivan Martin’s U105 radio show on Father’s Day and Christmas Day in his youth.


Of this in December 2014, the radio presenter remarked of his son: “I never look at my son James and think: ‘There’s James and he has Down’s Syndrome.’ I just think: ‘There’s James.’ It has always been that way… James is a remarkable young man and I admire him so much. He has never let his disability hold him back. He is an ambassador for Mencap and he has spoken at the European Parliament and to the Assembly at Stormont.”


Responding about his father in the same interview for the Belfast Telegraph, the undoubted star of last night’s ceremony in Los Angeles added: “My dad and I are very close… We have great craic and a lot of banter… Dad is also supportive of my acting… I love to act and want to be a good actor.”


The 23:29-minute film was the second collaboration between co-directors Tom Berkeley and Ross White. It was released on 4th March 2022 and of his son’s success winning an Oscar for it, Ivan Martin today told BBC Radio Ulster: “All I ever wanted was for James was that he’d be happy and, I tell you what, he’s happy now… It’s been a journey. You get to the Oscars and everybody keeps saying the prize is getting there, but, truth to tell, you want to win and I had my doubts about it because one of the opposition films was a Disney film and they had it in the last week… They had really been ramping up the promotion for it, but, calm heads win the end… A film we can all be proud of… It’s just crazy. There were a few tears shed, but what an achievement. Just delighted.”

Subsequently James Martin appeared in the BBC’s Ups and Downs and starred opposite Anna Friel in ITV’s Marcella and last night he was well and truly celebrated. Speaking ahead of An Irish Goodbye being named the Best Live Action Short, Martin shared:


“The timing of it has been just perfect. You know, you can’t plan somebody’s birthday to be on the Oscars. So, it’s a big day, [but] I just want to enjoy it really, just enjoy the experience.”


“I was just in the airport going down the escalator and [I heard some say:] ‘Well done An Irish Goodbye.’ ‘I’m just thinking to myself: My God this is amazing.’”


“I always say to people, never judge a book by its cover. Not just getting a BAFTA, but going to LA is a big deal… It’s just nice to be included.”


Later, after his win and having had the 3,000 audience sing Happy Birthday to him, the modest-to-his-core actor told BBC News: “We’re just so proud to be representing Northern Ireland. To be on that stage in front of all of our cinematic heroes – it was a special moment.”


An Irish Goodbye – which was written and directed by Tom Berkeley and Ross White and also stars Seamus O’Hara, Paddy Jenkins and Michelle Fairley – has been described as a “black comedy following the reunion of estranged brothers Turlough and Lorcan following the untimely death of their mother.”


Going further in an 18-page press notes release, the 23:29-minute film’s production team added:


“Under the watchful eye of odd-ball parish priest Father O’Shea, the brothers’ pained reunion is worsened by the fact Turlough must now make new care arrangements for Lorcan, who has Down Syndrome.”


“A robust and dedicated farmer, Lorcan’s dream of continuing to work the land he grew up on is thwarted when Turlough decides he’s sending him to live with their aunt on the other side of Ireland.”


“But when the brothers discover an unfulfilled bucket list belonging to their late mother, Lorcan senses an opportunity: he’ll only agree to leave the farm once he and Turlough have themselves completed every single wish on their mother’s list… All one-hundred of them.”


Today, we join all those saluting the actor James Martin and urge readers to join us in raising a glass to his latest award with a snifter or two of the chef of the same name’s London Dry Gin. Cheers!


The full film can be watched on BBC iPlayer by clicking here.


Editor’s Note – Unlike as is the case in many publications, this article was NOT sponsored or supported by a third-party.


Oscars 1
‘An Irish Goodbye’ is a short film written, produced, and directed in 2022 by Tom Berkeley and Ross White. The film stars James Martin, Seamus O’Hara, Paddy Jenkins and Michelle Fairley and is set on a farm in Northern Ireland.
James Martin and Ivan Martin
The award-winning actor with his radio presenter father, Ivan.
Oscars 2
On-stage to collect their award; the team behind the film used their acceptance speech to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the star-of-the-show. Co-director Ross White also stated: “Deary me, thank you so much the Academy for this incredible, incredible honour. Thank you to our fellow nominees, all the nominees for your work, and your work it inspires us so very, very much. Thank you to everybody back home and Northern Ireland who helped us make this film. We wish we had the time to list you all here, but you know who you are.” He then continued: “There’s something very important we’d like to speak about as well. This award is actually the second most important thing about today, because it’s this man’s birthday. He’s out here in Hollywood, wearing a leopard print suit jacket. We’d love to use the rest of our time up here to sing for James.”
The actor’s English namesake… ‘The Steeple Times’ reviewed ITV1 ‘Saturday Morning’ presenter James Martin’s London Dry Gin in January this year and lauded it as showcasing “tradition with a twist.” To purchase a bottle, click here and do join us in urging the pair to team up for a joint tellybox appearance; it’d make for great viewing.
Matthew Steeples
Matthew Steeples
A graduate of the London School of Economics, Matthew Steeples is a writer and marketing consultant. He conceived The Steeple Times as a media arena to fill the void between the Mail Online, The Huffington Post and such organs as the New York Social Diary in 2012.


  1. Congratulations on such a lovely ”feel good” article.
    Its the one and only one I will read about last night’s pantomime/freak show.


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