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27 November 2014
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Carrie & Barry
Neil Morrissey as Barry, Sarah Quintrelll as Sinead and Mark Williams as Kirk

Carrie & Barry - a brand new situation comedy for BBC ONE

Neil Morrissey is Barry

Although Carrie & Barry marks Neil Morrissey's reunion with the team who made him a household name in Men Behaving Badly, the part offers different challenges, as Neil explains:

"Barry is completely different from Tony because he is much more of a family man. He goes out to work and basically earns a living. Very different from Tony!

"He's got responsibilities, he's got a daughter, he drives a taxi and has done The Knowledge and I doubt that Tony could ever remember three street names put together!"

He continues: "One of the big pulls of the job was that with Simon you know that you are in safe hands and I really wanted to work with Hartswood Films again.

"They are absolutely brilliant, Beryl and Sue and director Martin Dennis, top, total professionals. It was like coming back from school holidays. You just feel absolutely secure."

He has thoroughly enjoyed playing Barry: "He and Carrie are very happily married, absolutely in love and co-dependent in a really cool way.

"They adore each other, are completely confident with each other, and if an episode was ever written where there was any infidelity, it would destroy them both.

"They are so into each other and the problems that arise are to do with what's going on around them rather than to do with their relationship."

The series is indeed a candid look at the life of a happily married couple:

"I would call it naughty rather than rude. The series deals with sex between a husband and wife, but no-one is trying to be Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland in Don't Look Now! We're not trying to do Nine and a Half Weeks here!

"Everyone is aware of their sexuality in a very grown-up, family way.

"These two aren't rampant teenagers trying to show off their technique to each other. They are a stable couple with a stable sex life. The series has got a lot of warmth."

Nonetheless, Barry has to deal with the fraught relationship between his wife and his daughter Sinead from his first marriage:

"Carrie just hates children. Maybe she's the youngest in a family of nine, I don't know! Also Sinead is just 18 which, as we all know, is a notoriously difficult time.

"There is always going to be a bit of resentment, that feeling that Carrie has taken her dad away.

"It's demonstrated very well in the series without being anywhere near nasty. It's just the typical problems of a hormonal teenager!"

Although they had not worked together before, Neil had met Claire Rushbrook socially a few months ago, as he explains:

"Claire was at primary school with my business partner Matt, and I first met her last autumn down at my hotel one mad weekend. She is so easy going and easy to work with and it was a bit of a dream job really."

However Neil has known Mark Williams - who plays his best mate Kirk - for some 15 years:

"We appeared together in The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer and did a Slade sketch together. I think he was Derek, the drummer from Slade and I played Ozzy Osbourne, their next-door neighbour.

"Mark and I were down in Wales and I said to him, 'You should have a look at this script, at the part of Kirk'. He said, 'Yes, by all means' and of course he was bang up to the mark really. He is just so clever and fantastic. He is a lot of fun and his technique is just wonderful."

He continues: "Kirk might be Barry's best mate, but he still exasperates him with his overtly sexual vernacular.

"But then again the poor guy hasn't had a shag for so long that he is going to explode!"

Barry also has a slightly fraught relationship with his wife's best friend Michelle:

"She gets on his nerves. She's a bit anti-man, anti-everything and lives in her own little world, but deep down she is probably a bit of a lost soul.

"She has her vulnerabilities, but she doesn't wear her heart on her sleeve - she keeps it locked well away!"

The series does call for a fair bit of intimacy between Carrie and Barry.

Neil laughs: "The series starts with Barry trying to persuade Carrie to have all her pubic hair shaved off.

"There is some sex which is always difficult to do - we have to slot around in a few different positions, which is always awkward to act without revealing too much.

"It's them having normal sex though, which a lot of people do, in a comedic way.

"The idea is that we are trying to spice things up a little bit and then we add the spontaneity."

Although long identified with sitcom work, Carrie & Barry is only the second sitcom Neil has done.

In a career spanning some 25 years he has mixed drama, comedy, theatre and documentary with his businesses.

He owns some hotels and also runs his own production company:

"Since Men Behaving Badly I have had a lot of fun and it's been pretty varied! I'm still doing on-going work on Bob the Builder, there have been two series of Paradise Heights and I have been putting together a feature film for my production company Cactus Media Group.

"We've got a script written by Dick Clements and Ian Le Frenais and a full-time producer on the case.

"I've also been building up my hotel business Hurst House. We now have three establishments up and running in Wales as well as one private members' bar and a fine dining restaurant, Hurst House London, opening in Covent Garden in November.

"I go to Wales whenever I can. It's stunning, colourful, great pubs, lovely people!"

Neil concludes: "I really think people are going to enjoy Carrie & Barry and identify with the characters and the situations. It's warm and a lot of fun with a cheeky, naughty side."

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