IT starts on ITV at 9pm tonight (Wed June 5).
And comes recommended.
Presuming you have already read the background at:
…here, as promised, is my transcript of the second Q&A at the London press launch.
With all the remaining main cast members, aside from Ashley Jensen (Sarah) who did not attend.
Graeme Hawley (Martin) / Zoe Telford (Michelle) / Niky Wardley (Heather) / James McArdle (Charlie) / Stewart Wright (Kevin)
Graeme Hawley: “Can we just say before we start, none of us are prepared to answer questions about James McArdle’s moustache today…” (laughter)
Q: Niky – how’s your Flamenco and do you have to do a bit more in the series? Did you have to learn much? (Re dancing scenes later in series)
Niky Wardley: “Ooh yeah. There is more.”
Q: Were you quite nifty on your feet already?
Niky Wardley: “No. We didn’t really have that much time. We were trying to fit in a bit of time with this amazing choreographer but it was all a little bit nuts. So we probably only had a couple of sessions. So I think it was just very cleverly filmed to make us not look…but we had to do this big set piece on this day and we turned up and the other people that we were competing against were all professional dancers. So John (Heffernan) and I…we were a bit nervous. But, yeah, it turned out all right. Smoke and mirrors, you know.”
James McArdle: “No, they were brilliant, weren’t they?”
Graeme Hawley: “They were. It was brilliant. It was fantastic. They were the best. They were better than the professional dancers. Honestly.” (laughter)
Q: James – do you get roped into any dancing at all?
James McArdle: “There’s one scene where we do a dance, isn’t there? But not very well. I was trying but I didn’t have to do anything like what Niky and John did. I just get to watch.”
Q: So we might see you (Niky) on Strictly soon?
Niky Wardley: “Oh good God, no.”
Q: Were there any Flamenco-related injuries?
James McArdle: “Yeah. She stood on my foot…”(reveals injured foot)
Zoe Telford: “He actually did that at the wrap party…”
James McArdle: “Because of Niky…”
Niky Wardley: “It’s so not my fault. It was your fault.”
Zoe Telford: “It was that a good a party that James broke his foot in two places.”
Graeme Hawley: “James was showing off..”
James McArdle: “No. Niky got stuck on a wall…”
Niky Wardley: “OK. I wasn’t stuck on a wall. I was on a wall, I was going to get off but James decided he wanted to pick me down from the wall, which he did. And then he wouldn’t put me down and carried me…”
James McArdle: “There was a kerb to get into the taxi and I thought it was a normal kerb. But it was actually a raised kerb…”
Niky Wardley: “We both fell and James broke his foot.”
James McArdle: “That’s it.”
Zoe Telford: “It’s really embarrassing.”
Graeme Hawley: “In completely unrelated circumstances, we had also been drinking…”
Zoe Telford: “But you (James) weren’t even drunk…”
James McArdle: “I wasn’t…”
Zoe Telford: “…you’ve got absolutely no excuse.”
Q: Graeme – can I ask, is it nice to play a family man after your experiences in Corrie as a killer?
Graeme Hawley: “Was it nice not to kill people? (laughter) It was very nice. It was lovely to play. Because I’ve got two kids and I’m tired most of the time. So it was very nice to play a person that was tired all of the time. That made it a lot easier. He’s far too tired to kill people, this guy. But in a strange kind of way, there’s kind of similarities with the whole Coronation Street thing because it is a big cast. We spent so much time together. We spent three-and-a-half months together. That’s what you do on Coronation Street as well. You spend more time with them than you do with your own family. So you become very close with that group. So I suppose there are similarities with that side of things. But yes, it is nice not to be a killer for a bit.”
Q: What was it like acting with all the children?
Graeme Hawley: “There is a baby-throwing up incident. There were lots of incidents with them. They were the most brilliant bunch of kids. They were really amazing. They were all from the same family. Debbie Isitt (director) managed to find the only family in Coventry that has five kids. They were brilliant to work with because they were all brothers and sisters and they all looked after each other. The baby, she did throw up on me. Only once. But I was in swimming trunks at the time. Caitlin, who is the eldest, has been in a couple of Debbie’s films and so she’d done a lot of acting before. But none of the rest of them had ever done anything before. And they come into the series more and more as it goes along.”
James McArdle: “They were really great to act with because they really believe that it’s happening. There’s some amazing moments where we’d go off script because they were improvising. Some of the best bits that we ever did was with the kids, just believing it.”
Q: Can I ask Stewart about all the eating you appear to have to do in this series?
Stewart: “All the eating? I didn’t pick up on that?” (laughter) “I did have a bad day eating very cold quiche. I think that might be what you’re referring to…”
Q: Did it become a regular feature, because your character seems to like his food?
Stewart: “Thanks.” (laughter) “Are you calling me chubby?” (laughter) “Yes. Does he like his food? Yes. He does eat some quiche. What else did he eat?”
Graeme Hawley: “Lemon curd…”
Stewart: “Lemon curd. Yeah, you got me. He associates it with family, I think. And it was round his mother’s house so food is quite a big part of family life and that’s maybe…it was a very good question.”
Q: What was the highlight for each of you of filming?
Graeme Hawley: “It’s always a difficult one to answer. In that we did genuinely have such a brilliant time together. Like they were saying, the last lot that were up here, you’re in a hotel for those few months together and it becomes a real social thing. The highlight of filming for me was not at set, probably. It would be the night when it was getting towards the end of filming and we’d been in this hotel for months. So somebody came up with the idea…we thought we’d do a treasure hunt. So we had the girls versus the boys and George, who plays their eldest son, he came up with a treasure hunt which was all done by text messages. So we spent a whole night at the Ramada Hotel in Coventry…I don’t really want to think too much about what everybody else who was staying in the hotel would think of this…but we spent the whole night running around the hotel on a massive treasure hunt. Which the boys won with a landslide. That was a pretty fantastic evening.”
Niky Wardley: “It was good. The competitive side of me was furious. I was so angry because we were rubbish. We were really bad. We just ended up bumping into each other and screaming a lot. It was quite embarrassing.”
Graeme Hawley: “That relationship that was there between us, I think is very important. I think you can really tell it in that first episode. Hopefully that will very much come across throughout the whole series. Because if this series works, it works on the idea that you believe that these people are a family. And it works on the idea that you believe that they love each other and care about each other. And I think we do probably care about each other. So hopefully that comes across.”
James McArdle: “The highlight for me…I can’t think of a specific moment but there were loads of days when we were all together filming and I’d always go, ‘I love it when we’re all together.’ Because I did.”
Graeme Hawley: “The reality is, it’s a nightmare when we’re all together because it takes hours to do it.”
James McArdle: “But that is the feeling of the show – that is hopefully what comes across. Debbie helped create that atmosphere where we felt quite free with each other and improvised a wee bit and did whatever.”
Niky Wardley: “The camping was a highlight for me.”
Graeme Hawley: “Episode four, we’re all camping together for most of the episode and we basically shot over a week – we were out doing night shoots on this camp site all week. That was good fun.”
Stewart Wright: “A highlight for me…one of the last jobs I did was touring a theatre show, living in a camper van touring round the UK. And I got in this job and I haven’t been working in TV for quite a long time and all of a sudden there’s a four star hotel, there’s being driven to set. It feels really nice. If anyone has ever lived in a camper van for five month – and if you have you’d appreciate a four star hotel.” (laughter) “And working with this lot. Joking aside – Alison Steadman, Celia Imrie…those big guys, is pretty special getting on a film or TV set with people like that.”
Q: One of the pivotal moments of the first episode is Pauline reading that fine poem by Dylan Thomas. Is there anything that you’d ever read or seen that had put a new slant, a new perspective, on something?
Stewart Wright: “Well, I did come out of it thinking it is quite a genuine look at marriage. In terms of it does raise some quite big thoughts and questions. It does look at it under a bit of a microscope…”
Zoe Telford: “That wasn’t the question…” (laughter)
Graeme Hawley: “When I graduated from drama school our head of school gave us an extract from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. The section where he talks about when he’s leaving this city and it’s all about him leaving the place and it being so hard to leave one place and go to another. He said that it’s like shedding a skin and it’s not without fear and regret that you leave a place. And that, as a young actor who had been in such a safe environment for three years and going out into what seemed like a very big and bad world, that had a huge effect on me. I still have the piece that she gave us. And whenever I go into the next big project or leave somewhere else…it’s something that I constantly go back to and read. Because I do think it very much sums up what it’s like to leave a safe place and go to somewhere new and exciting and dangerous. Like Coventry.” (laughter)
Q: (From me, as it happens) Just on that Graeme, how was it for you filming back in Coventry? Did you bump into any ghosts or people from your past?
Graeme Hawley: “Yes. I’m from the area. I’ve not worked there for years and years and I’ve never done television there before. But it was absolutely brilliant to work there. It was so amazing to film in a city where you…although I was from Hinkley, which is about 10, 15 minutes away but I spent most of my childhood in Coventry and I’m a huge Coventry City fan as well. The best thing for me, the reason why this is the best job I’ve ever done in my life, ever, is because I shot a scene at the Ricoh Arena. I think I could probably die a happy person now, to know that I’ve filmed a television programme at the home of Coventry City. Which might not be the home of Coventry City for much longer because they’re being kicked out. Which you should investigate! They (other cast) filmed in the Arena and they saw matches and everything. But the stuff that we did, sitting on the sofa stuff, all of our stuff was filmed in the Ricoh Arena. The Coventry City mascot is a big, blue elephant called Sky Blue Sam. And I have chased Sky Blue Sam through the streets of Coventry, which we did in episode six. Which is another of probably the highlights of my life. That maybe tells you something about my life.” (laughter)
Q: If there’s a second series, what would you like to happen to your characters?
Stewart Wright: “Maybe a trip abroad. Take the Paradise family abroad. A big budget second series. Somewhere warm, possibly.”
Graeme Hawley: “I think maybe two episodes in Vegas so we could really explore all the ideas. I think that Martin should maybe start playing up front for Coventry City football club. He suddenly develops a huge football talent and ends up playing for England, maybe.”
Zoe Telford: “Well Michelle goes back to work later on in the series so I suppose I would quite like for that to be explored a bit more. The whole thing about women going back to work and being working mothers. Just because I think it’s very interesting for a lot of people. So that would be mine.”
Stewart Wright: “A painful divorce? Could be interesting? You can’t do a show about love and marriage without a painful divorce, can you?”
Niky Wardley: “I’m quite excited to see what Heather would be if she gets the chance to be a mother. And what that means for their marriage and everything else. What that would throw up.”
Graeme Hawley: “Not that that necessarily is going to happen.”
James McArdle: “I want people to want Heather and Charlie to be together.”
Q: (Me again) And the answer to that moustache question?
James McArdle: “I’m filming something where I need a moustache. It’s a film about the Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1971 and I’m a sergeant in the Army. We’re shooting all my talking bits up here (re broken foot) and then hopefully in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to run.”