There may be only five million living in the Republic of Ireland, but there are 82 million worldwide who claim Irish heritage.

So says Frank Mannion, himself a transplant from the emerald isle - now living near Primrose Hill.

While the film maker's last documentary 'Quintessentially British' was a love letter to his adopted country, his follow up turns the camera on his own identity.

Shot during lockdown, Mannion's last film bagged interviews with the likes of Judi Dench and Ian McKellen, but the latest puts Pierce Brosnan, Andrew Scott and US President Joe Biden on camera.

Ham & High: Prince Albert of Monaco and Frank Mannion in front of a portrait of the Prince's mother Grace KellyPrince Albert of Monaco and Frank Mannion in front of a portrait of the Prince's mother Grace Kelly (Image: c2024 Swipe Films)

There's even an interview with Prince Albert of Monaco - whose Irish heritage stems from his film star mother Grace Kelly.

"There are light-hearted moments, but I think what it shows is the global reach of the diaspora," he says.

"There are six million people in the UK with an Irish grandparent, and 23 million in the US who identify as having Irish heritage. President Joe Biden considers himself Irish even though his family left in the 1840s, and he spent more time in Dublin on his last visit than he did meeting Rishi Sunak.

Ham & High: Irish actor Andrew Scott on the red carpetIrish actor Andrew Scott on the red carpet (Image: c2024 Swipe Films)

"Prince Albert's family come from Country Mayo. The house is still owned by him, he goes there every year, loves Irish Whiskey, and wore a shamrock tie for the interview!"

Mannion cuts in St Patrick's Day celebrations, both in Trafalgar Square and exclusive footage at The White House, where attendees wore green ties and were serenaded by Niall Horan.

American nostalgia for Ireland is "not just about turning the Chicago river green" says Mannion.

Ham & High: Mannion talks about the Irish 'soft power' of gaining access to the US PresidentMannion talks about the Irish 'soft power' of gaining access to the US President (Image: c2024 Swipe Films)

"Once a year, the Irish government, officials and trade delegations have a guaranteed day with the American president and can twist his arm on tax incentives, sell brand Ireland, and deepen the bonds.

"Ireland is now the most prosperous economy in Europe, we use our soft power so effectively and although proud of the Irish language, we are fortunate to be English speaking."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan talks about how the Irish built the capital over the decades - from carving out the Underground, to major construction firms today.

He also talks about the dual identity of incomers such as Oscar Wilde, a "quintessential Londoner" who grew up in Ireland.

Ham & High: Mannion interviews sprinter Usain Bolt on Irish connections to JamaicaMannion interviews sprinter Usain Bolt on Irish connections to Jamaica (Image: c2024 Swipe Films)

Usain Bolt, whose agent Ricky Sims hails from Donegal, talks about his passion for Guinness, and Jamaica's Irish connections. Thousands of Irish prisoners and indentured servants were transported there during colonial times and now 25 per cent of citizens claim Irish heritage.

"He is very knowledegable about the history, and place names like Irish Town and Kildare," says Mannion.

There are ironies too. National export Guinness "hasn't been Irish owned for decades," and national poet James Joyce never had an Irish passport because the British one was more useful when he moved to Paris.

Equally the irony is not lost on Brosnan of "an Irishman playing James Bond."

"He's Ireland's most famous emigrant and representative of millions of Irish people around the world," says Mannion, who interviewed the actor in Malibu which Brosnan calls "the seaside".

Ham & High: Bond actor Pierce Brosnan says he feels Irish in his blood and in his soulBond actor Pierce Brosnan says he feels Irish in his blood and in his soul (Image: Swipe Films)

"He's living the American dream."

Brosnan was born in Navan, County Meath and lived there until he was 11 and talks of being Irish in his "blood and his soul."

"In the 1950s his single mother May couldn't get work so she moved to London to do nursing, and Pierce was brought up by his grandparents until he moved to Putney," says Mannion.

"He was nicknamed 'Irish' at his comprehensive school. They meant it in a pejorative way but he wore it as a badge of pride, and found his way as an actor getting his first break at the Royal Court.

"His mother still lives in Wimbledon. She's 91, and they speak every day on the phone. He choses projects which bring him to London - like the Thursday Murder Club with Helen Mirren - so the Irish mammy phenomenon is still influencing his career choices."

Jeremy Irons talks about living in Cork with Irish wife Sinead Cusack, the reverse experience of being a "blow in" and feeling "honoured to be accepted as a bastard Englishman".

Mannion catches Ripley actor Andrew Scott on the red carpet who says it doesn't matter where he lives "you never lose your Irishness". Jessie Buckley sentimentally mourns her father's home made brown bread, while Bob Geldof hails the country's soft power in arts and music.

Mannion says "There's the nostalgia and sentimentality of people hundreds of miles from home. The Irish who emigrate are often more Irish than the people in Ireland."

Mannion, who grew up in Carlow and came to the UK for university and to work in the film industry adds: "Irishness is a vast spectrum of humour, love of the arts and story telling. We are a bunch of adaptable chameleons.

"Perceptions of the Irish have changed in the last 40 years through a well educated work force leaving Ireland, and it's perceived as a welcoming, sociable, culture.

"A hundred thousand welcomes isn't just a marketing slogan, it's a reality."

Quintessentially Irish is in cinemas on April 26 and selected screening platforms from April 29.