Former Hollyoaks star Lizzie Roper has been making us laugh in BBC2’s new hit comedy Boy Meets Girl (Thursdays 9.30pm). We had a lively a video chat with Lizzie to tell us more about her maneating chocolate-chomping character Jackie…
What’s Jackie like and how do you see her relationship with her transgender sister Judy (Rebecca Root)? “They’ve got a really warm relationship but they’re so close they can be sort of cruel, you know the way siblings sort of poke each other and there’s rib tickling. They go way back and Jackie has seen her sister change from a man to a woman. She’s gone from a little brother to an older sister type situation. But I think it’s a deeply supportive relationship and I don’t think that they could be that mean to each other without a huge amount of love underneath it. It’s a warm family.”
Both Jackie and Judy are living at home and they’re quite old characters to be doing so… that’s quite a good situation for a comedy, isn’t it? “I’ve got an older sister and as soon as we go home I regress to about eight years old and she’s about 11 years old and that’s it. Those are the ground rules and we’re not going to get any older than that when we’re in the house with our parents and I think it’s like that for a lot of families. So, in Boy Meets Girl, Dad’s died and I think that’s brought them closer together. And then we’re all on our uppers. We’re not doing too great. Peggy’s making cakes, Jackie’s a receptionist, we’re just making the best of a bad lot and getting on with it and looking after each other.”
Their mother Peggy is played by Benidorm star Janine Duvitski. How fantastic is she? “I love Janine Duvitski. I’m really lucky. This is the third time I’ve worked with Janine and she’s just so great to have on set. She’s just naughty. It’s like having a naughty child. She’s like a toddler trapped in a woman’s body and of course she’s got stories about everything because she’s been in the business forever. She was in Abigail’s Party with Mike Leigh and I’m like, ‘Tell me about it!’ and she’s one of those great people who goes, ‘do you want to have a gin? 7pm? Hotel bar?’ and it was lovely doing two-handers with her, sitting on a sofa, shoving chocolates in your face and hanging out with her and her potty mouth! It was marvellous.”
What does Jackie think of Leo (Harry Hepple), who is dating her sister Judy “Well, I think if you put anything male in front of Jackie she gets the horn basically! She’s a very friendly girl with a big imagination and lonely… the way I wanted to play Jackie was that she had been quite slim and attractive in her 20s and the weight had piled on and she’s desperate to get back to that and it’s very elusive and she can’t get there. I think in her heyday she was really quite ‘active’ on the scene. Any time I met food in the script I ate it, any time I met a man in the script I ate it. It was great.”
Is there a lot of sibling rivalry between Jackie and Judy? Is she jealous of Judy for going on dates with a gorgeous young man? “No I don’t think she’s jealous. I think she’s empowered, I think she’s really delighted that her sister’s found someone who’s so great and she’s like ‘if she can do it why can’t I?’ She’s trying to catch up. More than anything in the world she’d love to have a lovely boyfriend look after her. She had this marriage and it all went hideously wrong, so she’d love a little bit of action.”
Will we see Jackie on any dates? “She certainly puts herself out there shall we say. Whether or not it comes to any conclusion is another thing….”
The two families get friendly as well. How great was it acting with former Corrie stars Denise Welch and Jonny DIxon? “Yes. Denise is so lovely to have around and Jonny Dixon… well both of the boys made me feel very wrong because it was like ‘I don’t know whether to make you a sandwich or run you a bath!’ It was maternal yet sexual, which is always a very difficult combination and I sort of enjoyed sexually bullying Jonny Dixon, and so did he.”
What message do you think viewers will take from watching a series like Boy Meets Girl? “I think they’ll take away that it’s really funny and I’ll hope there’ll be that seismic change when people no long think that if you put a transgender in a sitcom it’s jokes about beards and undercarriages and clumsy… just not good enough. There’s better ways of finding the comedy and it’s the fact that we’re all people and we all deep down have the same ideas of what’s funny. I’ve always said the shortest distance between two people is laughter and that’s what Boy Meets Girl proves.”
Boy Meets Girl continues on Thursday on BBC2 at 9.30pm
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