Scott & Bailey’s Lesley Sharp tells us about her role in the new Sky1 comedy drama Starlings (opens in new tab) (Sunday, May 13)... How would you describe your character? “[Jan] is incredibly warm and kind. She adores her family and has made the Starling household one where any waif or stray is welcome. In TV drama, the accent in many relationships is on the conflict, but with Jan and her husband Terry, played by Brendan Coyle, it is about how much they love and support each other, which I found really refreshing and uncynical.” Is she the first grandmother you have played? “Yes, she is – and I hasten to add a very young and attractive grandmother! I think it is terrific to see two relatively young characters like Jan and Terry being confronted with a baby that is not theirs and seeing that they are getting older.” What was it like working with Brendan Coyle? “It was nice because with him coming from Downton Abbey and me coming from Scott & Bailey, we had a lot of conversations about how lucky we are to be in this situation. Also, both of us every now and again would look at each other and laugh and say, ‘Isn’t it funny that we playing characters who are having a lovely time?’” Has it been a change for you to do comedy then? “Yes, it is great to be able to go from drama to something lighter. I needed to do a very slight readjustment, but the scripts are so subtle and all the characters are finely drawn. The writers, Matt King and Steve Edge, have really struck a brilliant balance between having bonkers characters and a sweetness, too, without it being cheesy. They have done something very special.” The writers both star in the show as well. What was it like having them on set? “It was great they could come up with ideas for the characters because of what they saw in specific actors and they could adjust lines and say, ‘Try this’. It is always terrific if you have access to the source of the material because you can ask them questions and check things and they were both so supportive with their feedback.” Have you ever been part of such a chaotic household? “No, I think my fantasy of myself is that I would be completely at ease with that much chaos. but the reality is that, although I love having house full of people, I can’t cope. It is incredibly stressful having beds made up on sofas and things being not being put back in the right place. Unlike Jan. I am bit of a control freak.”
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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.
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