WOTV went on set to chat to comedian and writer Julia Davis about her new black comedy in which she plays a manipulative home-wrecker...
From Hunderby to Nighty-Night and Camping, writer and comedian Julia Davis, has won numerous awards for her dark comedy creations. Her latest venture, which she wrote, directs and stars in, sees her play aspiring musician and attention-seeking poet/actor/perfomer Emma, who is deeply manipulative and initiates a passionate affair with meek, suburban, office-worker Sally.
As the series opens, Sally, (Peep Show’s Catherine Shepherd), has just got engaged to her dull, but utterly devoted, boyfriend of ten years, David, (played by The Inbetweeners actor Alex Macqueen).
However, it’s clear Sally finds her fiancé both highly irritating and unattractive, and when stranger Emma (Davis) starts flirting with her on the London Underground, mild-mannered Sally throws caution to the wind and quickly finds herself swept into a passionate relationship.
The seven part comedy features a host of familiar faces including Vicki Pepperdine (Getting On), Joanna Scanlan (No Offence), Felicity Montagu, (Alan Partridge) and Julia's long-term partner and Mighty Boosh star, Julian Barratt with guest roles from Mark Gatiss and Sean Bean...
What's On TV met up with Julia Davis during filming on set in West London to hear more...
What's On TV: Tell us about your character Emma. What’s she like?
Julia Davis: "She’s slightly vacuous and very opportunistic and wants to be an actress, a musician and lots of other different things. She befriends Sally, (played by Catherine Shepherd), after first meeting her on the Tube in London and completely infiltrates her life. Emma's very manipulative and controlling. Would it appeal to play someone nice? No, not really! "
WOTV: What point is Emma at in her life? Does she want to be in a settled relationship?
JD: "I think she does, she needs the security of a relationship and the security of a house and all those material things that Sally, (pictured below), has. Emma never has any money. What’s also really weird about her is that she has absolutely no history. You don’t really know anything about her past or her previous relationships. She’s constantly re-inventing herself and she lies a lot!"
WOTV: Your husband Julian Barratt, (Flowers, The Mighty Boosh), is also in the show. What was it like working together?
JD: "Yes, he plays Nigel who is part of the office world that Sally belongs to. His character is involved with lots of different women throughout the series. It’s been good fun although we’re not paired together or anything which is quite good because I always think couples together on TV can be a bit annoying. We did one thing together years ago, a short comedy, but we didn’t think it was very good so hopefully this will be better!"
WOTV: Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, League of Gentleman) and Vicki Pepperdine (Getting On), also star. You’ve worked with both of them before. Is it important to surround yourself with friends for your shows?
JD: "Definitely. I wouldn’t want to work with anyone I didn’t like and it gives such a different atmosphere to have friends together in a team - obviously brilliantly talented friends. But it’s also been nice getting some new people that I didn’t know before. We have Evelyn Mock, who’s a stand up comedian who plays Julian’s girlfriend in the last episode and Kath Hughes is another new face."
WOTV: With friends and comedians on board do you sometimes improvise when you’re doing scenes?
JD: "Yes, a lot! And there have been so many times where we’ve ended up going off at completely different tangents which is fun. I’ve really enjoyed some of the scenes set in an office because I’ve never really ventured into that world before."
WOTV: You always veer towards dark comedy. Do you have to be careful not to go too far or is there no such thing as too far?
JD: "I’m sure there is too far. Definitely. I just go on what I think is funny and that’s it really. It’s just instinctive. You sometimes improvise in a scene and you may end up going, 'Actually, that’s not funny, it’s just horrible', but it’s better to explore it, have a go and then come back from it."
WOTV: You and Vicki also worked together on your 2016 comedy series Camping that you wrote and starred in....
JD: "Yes that was brilliant fun and we also do a podcast together called Dear Joan and Jericha. We are two Agony Aunts in their late 60s who are overly interested in people’s psycho-sexual problems and are not very sympathetic. Vicki’s character is slightly Katie Hopkins!"
WOTV: A US version of Camping has just been made in America starring David Tennant, Jennifer Garner and Juliette Lewis. How did that come about?
JD: "Lena Dunham, (star and writer of hit series Girls), had seen Camping and she and her producer decided they wanted to do an American version of it. David Tennant plays the character that Steve Pemberton, (League of Gentleman), played in my version, Jennifer Garner plays his wife (the character that Vicki Pepperdine played), and Juliette Lewis plays my character who was originally called Fay."
WOTV: How much involvement did you have and did you feel protective over it?
JD: "I went over there for a week and helped when they were planning out a couple of episodes. They’ve kept the main story but have then taken it off in other directions too. I feel honoured that they wanted to do it in the first place and am really excited to see it."
Sally4Ever starts on Thursday 25 October at 10pm on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV
Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and WhattoWatch.com She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.
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