In the new BBC1 drama Marriage, Sean Bean (Time) and Nicola Walker (Unforgotten) teamed up to star in this new intimate look at a long-term marriage, which is written and directed by Stefan Golaszewski (Mum, Him & Her).
The acclaimed British actors play Ian and Emma, who are a couple navigating the ups and downs of their 30-year partnership. They are parents to Jessica (Chantelle Alle) and are dealing with their fears and insecurities as the drama explores the risks and gifts of a long-term relationship.
Here's everything you need to know about Marriage which is now on BBC iPlayer...
Marriage release date on BBC1
Marriage is a four-part drama that aired on BBC1 in August, across four weekly slots. For UK audiences, episodes are now available on BBC iPlayer to watch on demand.
As per the previous Sean Bean drama Time, this series will probably arrive in the US in 2022, although we don't know which US channel just yet. We'll update you on everything as soon as we hear. Meanwhile, here's how to watch Marriage online from anywhere.
Is there a trailer for BBC1's Marriage?
Yes, a trailer for Marriage shows the nature of the up and down relationship between Sean Bean's Ian and Nicola' Walker's Emma. It begins with them on a plane having an argument about jacket potatoes. Looks like this will be fun as well as emotional. Take a look below...
BBC1's Marriage plot
Marriage on BBC1 sees married couple Ian (Sean Bean) and Emma (Nicola Walker) negotiate the ups and downs of their 27-year marriage. They've dealt with all the insecurities, the ambiguities, the hopes and the fears that are part of all marriages. The drama explores the risks and the gifts of a long-term intimate relationship.
When we first meet married couple Ian and Emma they’re in a Spanish airport returning from a lovely holiday — and bickering over a baked potato! By the time they’re on the plane it’s a full blown argument, setting the scene for what’s to come in this four-part series.
At home it’s clear it’s a time of intense change for the husband and wife of 27-years. Ian (Sharpe star Sean Bean) is at a low point following the death of his mother and being made redundant. With little to occupy his time, he becomes convinced there’s something going on between Emma and her sleazy boss, Jamie (Henry Lloyd-Hughes)...
Adding to strain on the home-front are the couple’s worries about their adopted daughter Jessica (Chantelle Alle) and her controlling boyfriend, Adam (Jack Holden), plus caring for Emma’s demanding father Gerry (James Bolam). But it’s weasel Jamie who causes Ian the most angst, and it turns out Emma’s flattered by Jamie’s attentions! When Jamie invites her to an overnight conference, will she stray?
Marriage cast — Sean Bean on playing Ian
Sean Bean, who plays Ian in Marriage, is a regular on TV and cinema screens, with a career spanning five decades. He found fame playing Mellors in the 1993 mini series Lady Chatterley and has gone on to star in numerous TV shows and movies. He plays Boromir in the Lord of the Rings films and Nedd Stark in the fantasy series Games of Thrones. He’s also starred in TV series such as Sharpe, Missing, World On Fire, Curfew and BBC1's tough prison drama Time, where he played a jailed alcoholic alongside Stephen Graham as his warder.
Sean says of his role as Ian in BBC1's Marriage: “I’m thrilled to be playing opposite the talented Nicola Walker. It’s been a real pleasure for me working with Nicola and I know everyone says that but it really has.
"Marriage only takes place over 12 days or so. It’s an extract of that time in their lives and you drop in to watch their lives. However, what is in those days is rich, revealing and you see what a relationship is.. what a marriage is. Their doubts, fears, joy, happiness and heartbreak that go into everyday living.
"Stefan’s dialogue is very natural and free flowing. It doesn’t seem like that sometimes when you are doing it. I guess we all jump to conclusions about how we perceive delivery of the lines and sometimes you go for the easiest option but Stefan breaks it up and doesn’t allow it to just become one dimensional thought. There’s a lot happening in between various sentences and statements we make which is hard to get your head around but makes it very varied and rich. He also throws in a lot of business; props, opening and shutting bins, getting tissue paper out at the same time as you are talking which is something you have to get used to. However it’s very well observed and quite hard work to get your head around even though it’s very naturalistic and free flowing. There’s so many different layers he has created within his script."
Marriage cast — Nicola Walker on playing Emma
Nicola Walker, who plays Emma in Marriage, is best known for playing fan favourite Ruth Evershed in the BBC1 spy series Spooks from 2003-2011. She’s since had leading roles in Prisoner’s Wives, Heading Out, Scott and Bailey and Babylon. She played Hannah in the BBC1 series The Split and Gillian in Last Tango in Halifax, which ran from 2021-2020 on BBC1. She also starred in the popular ITV crime drama Unforgotten, playing DCI Cassie Stuart.
Nicola says of the BBC1 drama Marriage: “This is a unique project. Stefan has created such a beautiful, funny and complicated world and I’m excited to be stepping into Ian and Emma’s marriage with Sean.
"It’s been very easy being married to Sean Bean for 27 years on this! It takes a lot of work to make it look as natural as it does and Stefan makes sure we repeat it all. The dialogue is connected to simple everyday actions. There are times we have laughed a lot off camera when I’ve made about 30 sandwiches for one scene and boiled the kettle 28 times but they are simple actions you do every day.. It’s all in the detail, it’s very revealing. Those mundane every day details!
Nicola gives her take on Emma's relationship with her boss Jamie (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) which does cause trouble in her marriage: "I think it’s hard to describe the situation with Jamie. Ian is suspicious of Emma’s young boss at work but it’s compounded by him recently leaving his job and there’s lots of things going on, including losing his parents. What Emma feels about Jamie is very complicated and it’s a big storyline in the show but Ian is paranoid and suspicious about him.
"We had also James Bolam playing Emma’s father and we spent a week with him which was an absolute pleasure. I felt a bit tearful on his last day. It was all quite intense and he’s an incredible actor. It put us to shame on a basic level in terms of line learning as he was all over the script. I loved every second of it and Ian’s relationship with him is brilliantly spiky, like a lot of those in-law relationships! With Emma’s father you initially think he’s very different to her but as the show goes on, I certainly think you see the similarities and inherited learnt behaviours between the father and the daughter."
Who else is starring in Marriage on BBC1
Other cast in BBC1's Marriage includes James Bolam (New Tricks, The Likely Lads) as Emma’s father Gerry, Henry Lloyd-Hughes (The Inbetweeners, Killing Eve, Ragdoll) as Emma's boss Jamie and Chantelle Alle (Mood, We Are Lady Parts) as Ian and Emma’s daughter Jessica while Jack Holden plays her boyfriend Adam.
Henry Lloyd-Hughes says: "Jamie is on one level a high achieving alpha go-getter but on every other level he’s a hollow man. He’s a sad clown who fills his life full of distractions, sugar and calories - as I’ve been discovering in the making of this TV show as I have been eating in almost every scene! He’s in charge of a solicitors firm which he inherited from his father who is a looming figure of this story although we never see him. Emma works there with him and it is that working environment that you can see mainly through the eyes of people who work there and the confines of that universe. He thinks that he is a big deal and people look up to him in a way that he manipulates the status quo. As we go through our story we come to realise that there are a great number of short cuts and how this is all a pretence!"
Marriage episode guide
EPISODE 1: Sunday August 14, BBC1, 9pm
Ian (Sean Bean) and Emma (Nicola Walker) get back from their holiday in Spain and return to their normal lives. Ian has recently been made redundant and is beginning to adapt to his new existence. Emma is doing well at work and trying to balance that with Ian’s feelings. Their daughter Jessica (Chantelle Alle) brings her boyfriend Adam (Jack Holden) round to meet them.
EPISODE 2: Monday August 15, BBC1, 9pm
Ian continues his job search with no success. Meanwhile, Emma is excited to find she has the opportunity to go to a work conference, where she might get contacts for her business idea. She’s nervous of telling Ian, but when Ian meets Emma’s boss Jamie and hears about the conference through him, he confronts her. Emma's father (James Bolam) interrupts their anniversary plans, meanwhile Jessica has an argument with Adam (Jack Holden) and looks for a way out.
EPISODE 3: Sunday August 21, BBC1, 9pm
Ian is at a loss as Emma, his wife of 27 years, leaves to attend an overnight conference with arrogant, untrustworthy Jamie, who she may or may not be contemplating spending the night with! "For Emma, the conference is tied in with her career hopes. It’s a promotion to be taken there as Jamie’s right hand person. He’s chosen her," explains Henry Lloyd-Hughes, who plays Jamie. "But from Ian’s point of view, this is a real crack in their marriage."
Over the course of the day, Emma’s taken aback by Jamie’s increasingly obnoxious behaviour at the hotel. Yet that night she still finds herself knocking at his bedroom door. Will she be tempted to stray when he turns on the charm and the wine starts flowing? Meanwhile, Ian’s frantic as Emma’s phone repeatedly goes to voicemail. He makes his way to the hotel, where his built-up fury explodes - resulting in a shocking act of violence!
"The conference is the showdown!" reveals Henry. "Jamie thinks he’s a big deal. We realise this is all a pretence!"
EPISODE 4: Monday August 22, BBC1, 9pm
Jessica moves home after breaking up with her boyfriend and Ian gets to spend some time with her, where he opens up about the adoption process and a letter he wrote to her when she was just a baby, while Emma and Jessica share a devastating moment about Nicholas, Ian and Emma's deceased son.
Meanwhile, Emma calls out Jamie on his "pathetic" drug habit and he receives an unexpected visitor in the form of Dan, who is actually the father of Emily who was there for work experience a few weeks prior, and has accused him of having sex with her. She's upset and Jamie has been ignoring her messages, but he doesn't do much about it.
All about 'Marriage' writer and director Stefan Golaszewski
Stefan Golaszewski is the creator of the BBC's BAFTA-winning sitcom Him & Her which starred Russell Tovey and Sarah Solemani as a young couple who lived in bedsit. He also wrote and directed Mum, the hit BBC2 sitcom starring Lesley Manville and Peter Mullan. The series saw Lesley as Cathy, a woman trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband.
“It's amazing to get to work with Sean Bean and Nicola Walker in Marriage,” says Stefan. “ They're actors of such depth, truth and warmth and I can't wait to go on this journey with them.”
“Stefan’s exquisite observation of marriage is funny, warm and searingly honest. His writing is a joy to read," adds Beth Willis, Executive Producer for Marriage production company The Forge. "I cannot wait to see Sean and Nicola bring to life this wonderful couple.”
Piers Wenger, the Director of BBC Drama Commissioning, says: “The extraordinary depth and complexity of Stefan’s characters calls for two of our most talented and loved actors. Enter Nicola Walker and Sean Bean. It’s always a privilege to have you on the BBC.”
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