Sky1HD's new comedy Trollied, about the lives and loves of a group of supermarket workers in the north of England, starts on Thursday, August 4 at 9pm. Jane Horrocks, who plays acting deputy manager Julie, tells us more... You play Julie, the acting deputy manager at budget supermarket Valco. What is she like? “She is a big snob. She is incredibly ambitious and wants the deputy manager role permanently. She has worked her way up in Valco over 20 years, but she was jilted several years ago, which threw her off-kilter, and she is carrying a lot of angst.” So is she actually any good at her job? “Yes, very. She knows Valco back to front and, even though she doesn’t deal with the staff very well, she manages to run the ship. She totally believes in Valco, whereas most of the others think it is a dreadful place to work.” Tell us about the other characters “We have Mark Addy as the butcher Andy and he is very butcher-like, as they usually are. Then there are the young lovers in it and the audience will really want them to get together, and we also have Margaret (Rita May), who is brought in as part of a ‘senior citizen at work’ scheme, but has never worked before and hasn’t a clue. There is a really good balance and mixture of ages.” How do the other staff react to her? “She is very keen on the manager, Gavin (Jason Watkins), and is a gibbering idiot around him. The other staff treat her as a joke because she doesn’t have the panache to win them over, but she thinks that she has. She thinks that if she is bossy and a control freak with them, it will work, but it doesn’t.” Will the audience sympathise with her? “It might be a bit of a Marmite situation. I like her enormously because she is daft and just misjudges things badly, but she has a vulnerable side which you see it with the scenes that she has with Gavin in the office.” Did you base Julie on anyone? “I watched Come Dine With Me and there was a woman in that who was just like Julie, a real snob who got things a bit wrong and used malapropisms. She was so dismissive of the other competitors and thought that they really wouldn’t know what she was cooking anyway so she was just going to cook rubbish for them. She is on my screensaver on my computer. I don’t look like her, but she was absolutely how I thought Julie would be.” What appealed to you about Trollied? “It is produced by Ash Atalla, who has got such a fantastic track record with The Office and The IT Crowd and brilliant taste in comedy. This is more heightened than The Office, but it is also very character-led in an observational, fly-on-the-wall documentary style and not gag-led. So many comedies now tell the audience where to laugh, but the fact they have not got a laugh track on it either will help enormously because that seems so old-fashioned now.” Did the script impress you too? “Definitely. I read a lot of scripts and some of them are really badly written, so it was so refreshing to read this; it just leapt off the page and I really wanted to do it, which I have not felt for a long time about anything to be honest. The group of writers who have done this have been working on it for the last two years and that really shows. I know I would have been very cross if someone else had played Julie.” Why do you think a supermarket is such a good setting for a comedy? “It hasn’t been done much before, but it is so universal. There is so much scope for stories – people will watch it and recognise themselves and think, ‘Oh I’ve done that’, whether it is manoeuvring trollies or opening those stupid little bags for fruit and veg.” Do you enjoy supermarket shopping? “I find it really therapeutic. I don’t think about the job at all, I just go and do my shopping. It is a release from what you are doing in everyday life, even though I have just spent every day acting in a supermarket too.”
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.