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Zoe Wanamaker interviewed about My Family and The Cherry Orchard

This Morning (ITV1), 2011-06-17


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Zoe appeared on daytime TV show This Morning to discuss the final series of sitcom My Family, as well as The Cherry Orchard at the National Theatre.  The interview was conducted by husband-and-wife team Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford.

Ruth Langsford:  First, it is the most popular British sitcom of the Noughties, with five million viewers every episode.  But the eleventh series of My Family, which starts tonight, will sadly be the last one.

Eamonn Holmes:  But why exactly will Zoe Wanamaker miss the bedroom scenes the most?  Before she tells us that, here is the Harper family in action.

[Miscellaneous clips of My Family are shown.]

EH:  Well, what are you going to do for your bedtime frolics now?  That's the question, Zoe Wanamaker.

RL:  They do spend an extraordinary amount of time in bed, don't they?

Zoe Wanamaker:  It's nice.  We have great fun in bed, in every way!

EH:  Morecambe and Wise spent a lot of time in bed as well.

RL:  They did, but not doing the things that Ben and Zoe [sic] are doing.

ZW:  Morecambe and Wise...  I think, you see, that's exactly where we always came back to, as far as that was concerned.  And that was OK for two guys to stay, to have a conversation, in bed.  Two guys in pyjamas.  I mean, how beautiful is that?

RL:  Do you know, what I like about it [Ben and Susan in My Family] is that they've obviously been married for such a long time, and yet...  Obviously they row and fight and things, but then they have those moments, often in the bedroom and things, when they're talking about the day, when they're very close.

EH:  Does that remind you of anyone?

RL:  It does actually!

EH:  But you can see that love, you know, which, I think...  Do you think that's been the success?

ZW:  I think that's probably...  It's that married couples can still have sex, you know, which I don't think any British comedy, sitcom, or any other comedy has had - or let's says sitcom - has ever had.  That's why it became...  I think it was very, it's very warm.

RL:  Yeah.

ZW:  And I think that's what makes it.  Nobody was nasty.

RL:  It was very popular, and yet the critics -

EH:  Well, it hasn't gone yet!

RL:  Well, yes, sorry.  The eleventh - there's another series to go, of course.  But the critics kind of said, 'Oh, it's too middle class' - and yet people loved it.  The viewing figures are excellent.  Do you think it had kind of just run its course, and it's been on for so long?

ZW:  Yes, I do, I do.  I mean, eleven years.  I mean, every time it was recommissioned, I think we were all pleased and delighted; but, as you were saying earlier, you know, you, as a freelance person, you just keep going with...  Well, as far as I'm concerned, I like to do different things; I like to work in the theatre, I like to work in film, and I like to  do all sorts of things.  And it was a lovely thing to be asked to do a sitcom.  I'd never done one before.

EH:  Did you know you were funny?  Did it prove you were funny?  Did you need proving that?  What did you find out about yourself?

ZW:  Did I know I was funny?  I always thought I was funny!  But it's other people, I think.  It was a genre I'd never done.  I mean, Robert [Lindsay] had done two or three situation comedies, and I'd never done one, and it was a new thing for me.

EH:  Well, Robert's not happy about it going, it has to be said.  He's been giving off about it, and he thinks that it had more legs really.  What do you think?

ZW:  Yes and no.  I mean, the kids had grown up, and I think that if you want to develop more then, as a writer, that might be quite interesting to do.  But I think, you know, eleven and a - eleven years - is a long time to keep something going.

RL:  Well, Robert...  You were saying there, Robert asked, when he got the part, he asked for you to be his wife.  And you've been friends for many years, haven't you?  Did you think, well, is that going to be odd to be your mate and then suddenly playing his wife?

ZW:  Not at all.  Not at all.  I mean, it's natural; it was a natural progression!

EH:  Let's see how natural it is - and this is from tonight's openeing episode of the last series.

ZW:  Oh...

[Clip from the My Family episode 'Janey's Choice']

EH:  Being together so long as a family - as you say, over eleven years - and now the kids have left the nest, was there a sense of family in the cast over that period of time?

ZW:  Definitely, definitely.  I mean, we'd seen Gabriel Thomson grown up from, you know, an eleven or twelve-year-old, and [he is] over twenty-one now.  It's also the crew, I have to say, as well.  The crew have been with us all that length of time, and that becomes a family as well.  And getting used to each other, knowing each other very well, is a very rare thing and a very gentle, sweet thing to do.

RL:  And probably different for you, as you said.  As an actor, you're moving on all the time to things, you probbaly don't ever get the chance to get really close to a crew and spend so much time with your fellow actors.

ZW:  No, well, you're doing it, you know, every week, and so it's quite -

EH:  And what are you moving on to now?  What's next for Zoe?

ZW:  Well, at the moment I'm doing - in - The Cherry Orchard by Chekhov at the National Theatre, which we're doing...  There's something called NT Live, so we're showing it, we're filming it on 30 June, and it goes all around the world.

EH:  This is a live broadcast.

ZW:  A live broadcast which is quite scary and wonderful at the same time.  It's going all over England - cinemas in England.  It's been done a few times before [with other productions].  It's also going to America, it's also going to Africa, to New Zealand, Australia...  That's exciting and that's a great thing, so people that can't get to see it, something at the Olivier National Thatere, can go.

RL:  It's a lovely idea - because it can be a bit exclusive, London theatre, can't it?

ZW:  Yes.

RL:  I think that's a great idea.

EH:  Well, good luck with that.  When you finished your last scenes in My Family, did you all have a big party, or what happened?

ZW:  Well, we just finished it last year.

EH:  Yeah.  So, you didn't know that was going to be the end then, I suppose?

ZW:  No, we didn't.

EH:  Ah, so you're owed a big party!

ZW:  Probably!

EH:  Yes, very good.

ZW:  Thank you.

EH:  Zoe, good luck with it tonight, and good luck with The Cherry Orchard.  It was nice talking to you.

RL:  Nine o'clock, nine o'clock, BBC1, tonight.  Thank you, and give our love to Robert as well.

ZW:  I will.


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