Bonnie arrives in the second episode of season seven to assist Cathy with childcare in the wake of her separation from her husband Geordie (Robson Green) and develops a friendship with vicar Will Davenport (Tom Brittany) in the process.
We spoke to Charlotte to find out what's in store for Bonnie — and about her slightly embarrassing first day on set...
Charlotte Ritchie on her character Bonnie
"She's lovely — she's a very self-assured and quite steady sort of character who's widowed, she's lost her husband and she has a young son, but she's kind of taking that in her stride. She's quite independent, and I think she's fun. She knows a bit about Will from Cathy and the family, so she already sums him up a bit! She becomes quite good friends with him, which is really lovely."
This character is a very different look for you — how did you feel about going blonde?
"I loved it! I wanted to go in that direction, it felt like a nice thing for the character, and I think they did an amazing job. I just love the bouncy curls, I think they say a lot about her, and they bring a lot of life to it — she's very sunny. But it was impossible to keep up the maintenance! I dye my hair all the time, and loads of it broke off from the roots — it just wasn't up for it, basically."
Your series of Call The Midwife was set in 1960. Did you feel familiar with the period?
"Yeah, it was actually really kind of bizarre, I didn't make the connection with the vicar [Charlotte's character Barbara Hereward in Call The Midwife was married to vicar Tom] and the late 50s — I thought, 'have I got a real thing for this?!' But it was such a different show, and the character was so different from Barbara, though they have a similar spirit. I feel lucky that I get to play very gutsy women! But it was definitely a kind of appeal — I love that era, the whole feeling of it is so interesting."
Bonnie and Will really click. Can you tell us about their relationship?
"It's really lovely, because the character was so not in the place of looking for anything romantic. I think she's there on a purely familial basis, so there's room for their friendship to just grow very organically. They quite quickly feel very at ease in each other's company, and I definitely felt that with Tom, we just immediately got on. At least, I thought we did — you might interview him and he'd be like, 'it was such a struggle, she's awful!'. The dialogue is written in that casual, lovely way — quite quickly they are able to speak freely with each other, which I think is a rarity and they both really enjoy that."
Bonnie's widowed and she mentions to Will that she wasn't sure if she loved her husband. Did you enjoy fleshing out her backstory?
"Yes, it's really easy to forget that the freedom of marriage that a lot of people enjoy now — or even freedom just to not be married at all — was barely in existence, especially for someone like her. It was just not unusual to marry someone that you didn't particularly love. I think she felt kind of comfy with [her husband], but what I found quite sweet and heartbreaking was thinking about people who just didn't consider that love would be an element of their marriage. It was like, 'we live in the same place, we are the same age, economically it works and we get on pretty well' — I think that was so common as an experience. It's only when she sees [Will] umming and ahhing about his feelings that she even considers that's something she could think about."
When we first meet Bonnie, she's doing handstands on the grass with the children. What was that scene like to film?
"Quite embarrassing — it was one of my first scenes, so everyone seeing my underpants on the first day is quite an interesting way to introduce yourself! But it was a really gorgeous day, the garden is so beautiful and the kids are so sweet. To be honest, it's not that different from how I would be if I was hanging out with a bunch of kids. I don't think I would be on the sidelines, I would be extremely competitive! You know you've got a problem when you feel glad that you've done something better than a seven-year-old. You know when you see parents playing football with their kids, and they score a goal and they're way too happy about it? It was a bit like that with my handstands!"
Grantchester screens on ITV in the UK and PBS Masterpiece in the US.
Steven Perkins is a Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and whattowatch.com (opens in new tab), who has been writing about TV professionally since 2008. He was previously the TV Editor for Inside Soap before taking up his current role in 2020. He loves everything from gritty dramas to docusoaps about airports and thinks about the Eurovision Song Contest all year round.
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