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Sarah Lancashire chats about Esther's simple life

Sarah Lancashire chats about Esther's simple life
Sarah Lancashire chats about Esther's simple life (Image credit: BBC)

Star of BBC1's new musical drama All The Small Things, actress Sarah Lancashire talks about stereotypes, separation... and singing in public! As well as acting, you are singing in this new drama – was that daunting? "It is quite exposing. We only had a brief period of musical rehearsal, but actors are very supportive of each other, especially when we're outside our comfort zone. I loved the musical dynamic. The last time we saw it in a drama was Blackpool, but then they were miming to other people's voices. It is lovely, it is very different, and choral singing is very big in this country." How would you describe your character, Esther Caddick? "She is fundamentally contented in her relatively small life. Esther is very family oriented – she is educated but chose to stay at home and raise children rather than pursue a career. She has a great passion for her music, the choir for her is a very important aspect of her life. So when she and Michael, who is the conductor, separate – 15 minutes into the series! – Esther realises that aspect of her life is going to be very difficult to sustain." While Michael is having a fling with Layla the soprano, is there any romance for Esther? "I think the new curate has the hots for her, but Esther is quite happy to have her family and her choir and continue life in the most familiar way that she knows. She is deeply in love with Michael, even when he's gone. Love is very complicated. She doesn't ex-communicate him – when you analyse it, he has done nothing wrong. He even decides to leave before his assignation with Layla." The title comes from a song by Blink 182 – but seems to apply to the story as well… "It is very applicable. You are never confronted with big issues, it is about the small things that effect people on a daily basis that are often ignored in television drama. In the first episode, we have to establish Esther and Michael's separation and that their eldest son Kyle (Richard Fleeshman) is 'different'. But one commendable thing about it is that their separation is dealt with in a grown up way. Also, when you see teenagers in a script these days, they are usually incapable of holding a conversation. And they are not teenagers I recognise. It is refreshing to see adolescents portrayed as intelligent and sophisticated, rather than in a negative and stereotypical manner." How does Esther's rival choir come about? "Esther finds a route to rehabilitate her son, Kyle [who has social difficulties akin to Aspergers Syndrome] using the music he loves. They do choral versions of pop songs, merging classical choral singing with a contemporary sound. We have a broad spectrum of music – from the Beach Boys (one of my favourite pieces) to Prince to Haydn. But Blink 182 is Kyle's passion – to keep him out there in the community, Esther uses their music as his stabilizers." Will there be a soundtrack album of All The Small Things to buy? "A CD release? Oh, I hope not!"

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.