New six-part series created and written by Lucy Gannon for BBC One
Eve Myles plays Frankie Maddox
What drew you to the project and were you a fan of Lucy Gannon’s work prior to working with her?
The rare opportunity to play a title role! The writing was fantastic and the character was very clear to me straight away. I felt I could have lots of fun with her. Professionally, the public have a slightly fixed image of me as "Gwen Cooper", so to play something very different was something I have been looking for. Of course I knew Lucy Gannon’s writing before this project, one of my memories growing up was Soldier Soldier. For an actress of my age to have the chance to play such a great part is a huge opportunity, so to play this title role I had to work harder than I have ever worked before.
What is the premise of this drama?
Frankie is set around the lead district nurse and her team. There are different story lines every week, but the link and through line of the series are the team’s professional and private lives.
It’s a rare treat to get the chance of playing a title role. How did it feel to take on this project?
A 'rare treat' to put it mildly - even two days before wrapping, I woke up my partner in the middle of the night and said, "I can't believe I got Frankie!" Every actor seeks a challenge - I certainly did. At the beginning of the year I played opposite Zach Braff in a comedy in the West End, then went on to play this complex role for the BBC. I wanted the responsibility and relished the professional shift. Though the responsibility and pressures are huge, you have got to keep pushing yourself as an actor. The volume of work was unbelievable so I had to be completely ‘on it’ every day and be prepared weeks ahead of schedule just so I could keep on top of it all. Without a doubt this has been the most disciplined I have ever been; friends and family missed me, but realised what an opportunity I had been given and how hard I have worked to get to this point. They left me to dive in and not come up for air until the golden wrap was called. I was not going to let myself, family and those who have entrusted me with 'Frankie' down... a million percent or nothing!
How does Frankie maintain her upbeat persona when all around her is crumbling?
Frankie keeps her persona up, because 9/10 it's her job to. That and she is a naturally upbeat character who has an inner child that comes out to play. She is a people's person and works with patients and family 24hrs a day - this is not work, it is who she is! She knows that a large part of her job is to lift people as soon as she enters their home and take their mind of the problem. She is very energetic and loves life, music, dancing, food and wine! She has a naughty almost childlike sense of humour, but when it comes to her job there is no one else you would want.
Frankie’s patients seem to be a huge part of her life and for whom she will go above and beyond. Do you think this comes with the territory or is she a workaholic and what is the impact on her personal life?
Frankie’s patients are a huge part of her life and as we watch during the series she sacrifices plenty in her personal life, but she believes that it's just part and parcel of her position as lead district nurse and she would have it no other way. Others around her see it as her making sacrifices, not Frankie. She isn't a martyr by any means just someone who is passionate about the work she does.
Have you ever played a medical role before? Did you spend time with any real District Nurses?
This is the first medical role I have played. And it's a lot to take in. Especially with district nursing, as it’s not an area that's really been highlighted before and not all set in a hospital/surgery etc as they are constantly on the road and in patients’ homes.
I spent lots of time wracking the brains of a district nurse we had come on set every week, to make sure everything was truthful and realistic, but I think the biggest thing I stole from spending time with the district nurses was how they adapt to every single different household/patient/situation and what great listeners and friends they become with each patient and to their families. Also, how they have lots of fun when they are not on duty. When I questioned the amount of 'socialising' Frankie does the response was perfect; “we have to let off steam or it becomes too personal and starts affecting your life, we have to switch off and have fun" - which Frankie will no doubt perform in abundance!
Frankie seems to have an enemy in Dr Evans (played by Jemma Redgrave) what has she done to incur the wrath of her superior?
Well Frankie doesn't get on with everyone, who does? But through the series you will a personal struggle between her and Dr Evans. They have very different approaches to "care" and are the complete the antithesis of each other. It's a strained professional relationship to say the least.
Frankie is a big fan of Ken Bruce! How did his Radio 2 show become involved in the script and did you meet Ken in real life?
Kenneth The Bruce plays the other man in Frankie's life! This is where the fun part comes into the world of Frankie. When she gets in her car it becomes her personal special place where she can "let off steam" and there are many scenes where she does this! She has a relationship with Ken and they share great music together - this is Frankie's escapism. He brings the ‘Wanna Be’ pop star out in her! I have yet to meet Ken, but hope to!
How like Frankie are you?
I am like Frankie in as much as I play her. We are both very hard working, have a naughty inner child that pops up in inappropriate situations and have a little wild side, but most importantly believe that you MUST have fun at work, then you will do your best.
The Bristol location features heavily in the drama. Did the cast and crew locate to Bristol for the duration of the shoot and how well did you get to know the city?
Bristol and the people of Bristol are amazing. What a gorgeous place, so interesting and different with lots of stunning locations. The people are warm and friendly; so much so that I tried to convince my fiancé that it might be a good idea to move there! We had lived in London up to the point of filming, whilst I was performing in the West End, so it was wonderful and rare that I could film my series and go home every night! I got to go home every night to Cardiff, but that did mean an extra effort to get up extra early to get on set in time in the morning, but it was worth it to be able to give my daughter a kiss before I went every day.
Had you worked with any of the cast before?
I have not worked with the cast before, but even after the read through I felt like I had. They are a stellar bunch of actors and I feel very VERY lucky to be in their company. It's safe to say that we had lots and lots of fun! And that's important because that then comes through on screen.
Since the arrival of your daughter, how do you balance motherhood and your career?
Yes, being a parent and working full time is difficult no matter what profession you are in, but I insist on making things as consistent and normal as possible for my daughter. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's impossible, but everyone has to work and I am very fortunate that my fiancé and I can take it in turns, so when one works the other doesn't. So far so good!
Years ago I would have worked and played hard, but when you work these hours and then have to go home and start the most important job of being a mamma, life changes, and for the better. Tiredness is awful when you have this sort of schedule because you always try to do so much when you do have a weekend off, so I have learned to take things a day at a time. Matilda also comes to see me at work, and the older she gets the better social life she has than me; it’s just great to have a stable routine for her. I don't work for me anymore I work hard for my family and for her to be proud of me when she's old enough to realise why I spend so much time in trailers in car parks!
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