“WE always hear, ‘Golden age of British drama.’
“It’s not. It’s a golden age of British acting talent.
“We have never been so blessed in this country. It is incredible.”
Jimmy McGovern speaking at the London BAFTA launch of Moving On series six last month.
Five new stand alone dramas by up and coming writers starting on BBC1 at 2:15pm tomorrow (Monday Nov 10).
There’s a lot to like about both this series and the company behind it, Liverpool-based LA Productions led by Colin McKeown.
Monday’s first story – Madge – is written by Shaun Duggan, directed by actor Reece Dinsdale and stars Hayley Mills, Peter Egan and Kenneth Cranham.
The 45-minute tale of a woman in her late 60s living life to the full and hiding a big secret.
Tuesday is The Signature by Anthony Gannnie and stars Lisa Riley as Moira and Graeme Hawley as her husband Ken, struggling to pay their bills.
Full details of all five dramas are at this link.
Here’s the story I wrote immediately after the launch, followed by some Q&A material from those involved – including Hayley Mills:
FORMER Strictly star Lisa Riley “loved” being de-glammed for her latest gritty TV drama role.
The ex-Emmerdale actress plays Moira, a hard-up school dinner lady who also works in a corner shop to keep her family afloat, in BBC1’s Moving On.
Lisa revealed: “I look like I haven’t had a wash for 10 years. No glamour whatsoever. But I love it. You’ve got to get it right and I’m proud of the performance.”
2014 Strictly contestant Alison Hammond has revealed 2012 semi finalist Lisa inspired her to take to the dancefloor.
But there’s no sign of fake tan and sequins in the hard-hitting drama, which co-stars Graeme Hawley – Corrie killer John Stape – as Moira’s husband Ken, who suffers from MS.
Lisa explained: “When we were doing the school canteen scenes it was a freezing cold day but make-up were putting sweat on me because a big girl would be sweating.
“She’s an earthy northern woman. I wanted to look how she would look. You want to get it right. It’s important.
“There’s nothing that drives me more mental in British drama with certain actresses – I’m naming no names. But it drives me to distraction.
“If you can’t cry and you can’t feel it, don’t do it. Otherwise it’s fake. I like to shock people in my career.”
Lisa has also resumed her role as a behind-the-scenes reporter on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two hosted by Zoe Ball.
She stars in the second of five new Moving On dramas on BBC1 this Tuesday. (Nov 11)
Damian Kavanagh, Controller of BBC Daytime, introduced the BAFTA screening by revealing he had already commissioned series seven:
“We’re six series in. Over 30 episodes. Personally I think it gets stronger all the time. It’s really hard always trying to keep a long running series fresh. But Colin and Jimmy and the team, every time they just pull together incredible actors, performers, directors and crew. And just raise the bar all the time.
“When I saw this series, I watched the five episodes back to back. And was so impressed by what I saw I straight away commissioned another five episodes. It’s an amazing piece of work. Something that we are absolutely proud to have on BBC1.”
After a screening of the first two episodes, Colin McKeown said: “If you’ve seen two better female performances this year I will be very, very surprised.”
Jimmy McGovern: “What we have is a big team of writers and they all come with ideas and we simply pick eight ideas, do a wee bit of work on the story, try to improve the story, hopefully. and then pass on the eight ideas to Damian there, who then picks from maybe 12 ideas this time. So we put a fair bit of work into the initial story. And once you get a long short list, we then work harder on those stories. So it’s a team effort.
“On this I only work on the story. I get the writer into the room and we bash the stories around. So I don’t touch the script. Only in extreme circumstances, which haven’t really occurred. I think daytime drama must give you the right to fail. And as long as we’ve got the right to fail, that’s the way we should work with up and coming writers. They need the right to fail as well as the right to succeed or the opportunity to succeed. Whereas on Accused and The Street there’s no right to fail. You’ve got to succeed.”
Jimmy later commented: “It’s the curse of the industry – inflated language. A play can’t be good any more. It’s got to be brilliant. Well it isn’t brilliant. I’ve never seen a brilliant play. I’ve seen a good play, once or twice. But the inflated language gets in the way of honesty.”
Q: Hayley – what drew you to this?
Hayley Mills: “It was a bloody good script. And a wonderful part. Great pedigree. It was a gift. There was no question. It was a joy from start to finish. I don’t remember working so hard. It was really full on, non-stop. But it’s a great company. Committed, creative and passionate people. Just wonderful. I loved every minute of it.”
Colin McKeown: “And I’ll say this on Hayley’s behalf – she’s never worked as hard, or for as less.” (laughter)
Q: The culture shock of shooting a script in six days and you’re in every single scene?
Hayley Mills: “Yes. A few sleepless nights, I have to say. Luckily I had a week away. I left the country. My brother had somewhere in Italy and my partner and I went to stay with him. And that’s all I did for a whole week, is learn my lines. And then when I arrived in Liverpool I met my director, Reece Dinsdale, who was so supportive and so encouraging. I felt he was like a forklift truck under me. He just swept me along. And the whole crew, the cast, everybody’s working together. It’s all a team effort and you just get swept along by it. It wasn’t until it’s all over that I got on the train back to London and collapsed.”