Claire Rushbrook is Carrie
Claire Rushbrook is best known for her starring roles in Linda Green
and Secrets & Lies.
Carrie & Barry is her first situation comedy: "I am biased, but I think
that Carrie is lovely. She's really warm and loving and funny and strong,
but she is not afraid to be vulnerable and she enjoys her happy marriage
and a happy life, really."
Claire had met Neil just once before: "It was a mad coincidence in
that a mutual friend of ours had met Neil and his business partner at
one of the hotels they own in Wales.
"It turned out that this business partner was at primary school
with me, so she and I were invited to the hotel to meet up with Matt
again after however many years.
"We had a fantastic weekend there as his guest and Neil, who spends
time there whenever he can, happened to be around.
"It was out of season - quiet and cold and wintery and lovely,
and we just relaxed at this gorgeous hotel for two days, drinking red
wine and hanging out together.
"So when I came to the audition where Neil sat in, it had broken
the ice and we just plunged right in to reading together."
Claire learnt a lot from Neil and the rest of the crew who were very
experienced in working on situation comedies:
"I was pretty apprehensive about the technical aspects of the live
recording, but the rehearsals away from the studio were similar to rehearsing
for theatre or other TV programmes.
"By the time I came to learn about the studio days and the cameras
and where to stand and how to pitch it and so on, I just loved it.
"Recording days are very long and you need a lot of stamina, but
I love the challenge of keeping it relaxed and fresh and natural, when
really you're scared to death - and you still need to raise a laugh!"
She adds: "The first week I was nervous, but after a bit it was a real
joy, and watching Neil and Mark having such fun really made me relax.
"I've also been lucky working with someone like Lisa Tarbuck on
Linda Green. After presenting The Big Breakfast where banter was so
much part of the experience, she was an expert at learning one hundred
people's names and having a giggle from day one.
"But with Carrie & Barry I was conscious that I was slipping into
what was already a well oiled machine."
Claire also felt it surprisingly easy to do some of the more intimate
scenes with Neil:
"I think we approached the whole thing in a pretty gung-ho and let's
just bite the bullet sort of a way! We didn't want to waste time by
being shy or afraid to be tactile.
"Although it was very embarrassing to read in the script that
you had to be hard at it, in the context of the trust that we found
between us, it was nowhere near as painful as it might have been.
"There was no room to be coy. Let's just say that the script needed
100% commitment! I hope that we get away with it, because it takes place
in the context of a loving marriage and, more importantly, there is
nothing erotic about it. They are two very relaxed people just doing
Carrie's relationship with Barry's best mate Kirk is not quite so relaxed:
"I think she's very fond of him deep down, but they are like schoolboys
together and he quite often does bring out the worst in Barry.
"However, Sinead and Carrie really do not like each other. I wouldn't
ever wish to be in that situation. I would like to think - although
it's a lot less funny - that Carrie would perhaps display a little more
understanding and warmth and love and tolerance.
"Given no choice I've just had to be horrible to her and her with
me as we vie for Barry's attention."
Claire adds: "Michelle and Carrie are best friends, although that tag
is slightly misleading as I don't feel that they have deep conversations
about tender things.
"The bottom line is that Michelle is quite barmy and needs Carrie
and Barry's stability more than Carrie needs her.
"That said, she is great and she and Michelle have a real giggle."
She concludes: "I hope people will feel warm and rosy and have a smile
on their face when they watch Carrie & Barry.
"The series is sassy and it's sexy but there are squabbles. It's
not saccharine sweet, but it is unashamedly positive."