Mary Fletcher TV Times, 1993-01-16
A Russian choir sings and wax tapers cast a soft glow as Tessa Piggott says 'I do' to Frank Carver in Love Hurts, BBC 1's saga of grown-up love.
It takes a dangerous adventure on a business trip to Russia to bring Frank (Adam Faith) and the supremely independent Tessa (Zoe Wanamaker) together for their spur-of-the-moment wedding.
And although there are no guests and no honeymoon, the ceremony in St Isaac's, a beautiful cathedral in the historic city of St Petersburg, couldn't have been more special.
'It was a very romantic moment in a glorious setting,' says Zoe. The walls of the church were covered in marble and lapis lazuli, which reflected the light of the flickering candles.
'When the priest held golden crowns above our heads in the Russian Orthodox tradition, I held my breath.'
Yet Frank and Tessa's wedding also had its funny moments. Because the crew was granted only a few hours' access to the building, both rehearsals and filming had to be done at breakneck speed.
A priest who turned up unannounced kept interrupting when he thought things weren't being done properly. And during one touching moment, Adam managed to singe the mysterious priest's beard with one of the candles!
But marriage is unlikely to turn the volatile relationship between Tessa, who's never been wed before, and the once-married Frank into one of comfortable domesticity.
Tessa is used to living alone and pleasing herself and she won't take kindly to finding Frank's toothbrush alongside hers and the lavatory seat left up. 'At one time I think both Adam and I were worried that marriage might make them too cosy,' says Zoe, 'but now I think it just opens new doors. It certainly won't be pipe and slippers time for them.'
Adam agrees: 'Both Tessa and Frank are independent, strong-willed individuals and a marriage certificate won't change that. In fact, it might even add a certain amount of interesting friction to their relationship.'
Much of Love Hurts' success can be put down to the attraction of opposites, which both Zoe, 43, and Adam, 52, admit reflects the chalk-and-cheese relationship they have as actors. They had not met before they were cast in the series - but now they're clearly good friends.
'Can you imagine what a nightmare it would have been if we'd hated each other on sight?' says Adam. 'You'd be thinking all the time, "Oh, please don't let the first series be a success, we don't want to have to work together again". But it's been fantastic. It's a great thing to work with somebody and become mates with them.'
Yet their first meeting almost got off on the wrong footing. Says Zoe: 'I've always thought that the better-looking a man is the more he's to be avoided. If they're pretty, you either fall deeply in love with them and feel inadequately matched - or they're a pain in the bum.
'And here was Adam, this classically beautiful pop star, whose records I used to dance to, whose poster hung on my friend's bedroom wall, sitting across the table from me at lunch and hardly saying a word.
'He just looked at me as though I was a car he might want to buy. I knew I was being vetted, so I tried to be frightening and flirtatious at the same time. It was extremely disconcerting.'
Luckily, Adam soon disproved Zoe's preconceptions. 'He turned out to be a lovely man,' she says. 'I enjoy Adam for the same reasons Tessa enjoys Frank. We're completely different people, but we make each other laugh. We miss each other when we're not working together. I'd love to be as witty, as clever, as sharp as he is. He's also the most photogenic person I've ever worked with. I find it deeply sickening!'
It's said as a joke, but you get the feeling that Zoe is a touch defensive that her elfin face, with its snub nose and striking eyes, doesn't conform to conventional ideas about actresses' beauty.
'I've never thought of myself as classically pretty but it's never worried me,' she says. 'In fact, it's been my bread and butter in a way and I'm pleased about that.'
'At the beginning, I thought I was an off-the-wall choice for Tessa. I thought she should be played by someone terribly glamorous, like Joanna Lumley or Patricia Hodge, not someone like me who is, well, strange.'
Adam's own real-life wedding to former dancer Jackie at London's Caxton Hall 25 years ago couldn't have been more different to Frank and Tessa's. The ceremony was besieged by hundreds of Adam's fans wanting to wish their pop hero well. The couple have one daughter, Katya, who is studying history at Harvard University in America.
For Zoe there has been no real-life marriage, despite several long-term relationships. 'I've been wary of committing myself to one person for the rest of my life,' she says. 'I've been close, but I've always baulked at the final hurdle. It's a very confusing issue which I still haven't resolved.
'My relationships were like marriages. You set up a home together, you share belongings, memories, photograph albums. And when you break up, there's a lot of regret... a lot of pain.
'As for children, there have been times when I've thought it would be nice to have a child, but I was never sure enough. I was frightened that having a baby might alter the relationship I was in. Now I wonder if I could face the upheaval in my life.'
Zoe, whose father is the American actor and film director Sam Wanamaker, was born in New York and arrived in Britain to stay at the age of three - her family fled the McCarthy communist witch-hunt of the Fifties.
In the 20-odd years she's been a professional actress she has established an enviable reputation in socially committed dramas and the classics.
But it has taken Love Hurts, created by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, finally to turn her into a star. And although this state of affairs is welcome, she's still trying to get used to the public recognition that goes with it. 'As a child walking down the street with my father, people would recognise him and say, "Hi, Sam!". I found it so embarrassing I'd hide in corners,' she says. 'I didn't want people to notice me. Even at drama school I'd hide behind the radiator.
'But I've learned from Adam that it's nothing to be frightened of. You have to accept it when people come up to you... enjoy it and not be scared.'
Adam admits he's obsessive about Frank when he's filming. 'You don't exactly take the character home with you, but it gets into your blood. You find yourself thinking about the scene you've just done or the one you're going to do. I'm sure it's terribly boring living with an actor.'
As a former pop idol turned businessman, actor and columnist, he's thrilled that his first major television role since Budgie in the Seventies has proved to be such a success. 'It would have been an anti-climax to come back to something that wasn't, although to be honest, I didn't have too many expectations,' he says.
'For the first series we filmed for eight months and never got the feeling that we were building up a head of steam. When it came out, the success was a shock. It's been a wonderful surprise ever since.'
How They Staged the Big Day
Frank and Tessa's wedding takes place in glorious St Isaac's, the world's third largest domed cathedral after St Peter's in Rome and St Paul's in London.
St Isaac's, a museum for decades, was easier to hire for filming than one of the handful of churches that continued to function throughout the Communist rule. 'It was such a struggle for Christians to survive, so the idea of filming in a church still being used for worship seemed almost blasphemous to them,' says producer Tara Prem.
'But at St Isaac's, where they're used to it being used for other purposes, we were given every assistance.'
Because Frank and Tessa marry on the spur of the moment, they only have 48 hours to organise the ceremony. Tessa employs a local seamstress to make her dress. In reality, Zoe's long, simply styled, off-white wedding dress was supplied by the costume department.
As they say their vows, a Russian choir sings a wedding hymn. 'The acoustics in the building were incredible - I think the choir was delighted to have the opportunity of singing there,' says Prem. 'The whole thing was wonderfully romantic and filmed with hardly a hitch.'
The Love Hurts team found the Russian authorities eager to help. 'They're keen to bring in Western currency, so they bent over backwards,' says Prem. When our film convoy set off from the hotel each morning, we were given a police escort of 20 to 30 vehicles - and we ran every red light from one end of the city the other.'
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