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29 October 2014
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The Cup 
Jennifer Hennessy plays Janice McConnell © Hartswood Films/Matt Squire

The Cup – a six-part comedy series for BBC Two



Jennifer Hennessy plays Janice McConnell


Janice, Terry's long-suffering but actually very reasonable wife, is played by Jennifer Hennessy, already well known to television audiences for starring roles in TV hits such as Drop Dead Gorgeous and Lilies.

 

Jennifer explains: "It's a great script and I just got a really good feeling about this series. It was also great to be back up north filming again.

 

"I moved back here from London because I had a daughter, Nancy, and I wanted her to grow up in Manchester. It's lovely that you don't have to be in London any more to get parts in great programmes like this."

 

Janice is forever washing dirty kit and clearing up the trail of destruction Terry seems to leave in his path.

 

Jennifer laughs: "Janice is a bit put-upon and downtrodden, I suppose – the way that most wives and mums are but probably a bit more so in her case!

 

"It's quite funny actually, because the make-up girls most mornings would say 'We're doing a bit of a Janice' when they were moaning about their husbands or partners!

 

"But as is the case with them, I'm sure, despite doing all the hard graft and not getting the glory, Janice does love her husband even if he is a bit of a Victor Meldrew!"

 

Not being altogether interested in football, Janice has an ulterior motive for wanting her son's team to get through to the final: "Janice is really excited and determined that they should win the football league but only so she can get a trip to a swanky hotel in Birmingham.

 

"She's determined to get away from being stuck in the house and to be able to put a posh frock on!"

 

But she's had to lower her expectations somewhat, as Jennifer explains: "There's a great moment where she admits that Terry did promise to take her away to Paris, but Bolton were drawn against Bayern Munich so that was that – and they settle for Birmingham instead!"

 

She adds: "Of course, Janice also has all the background with Steve. They used to go out when they were much younger – until he was responsible for breaking Terry's knee which cut short any footballing career he might have had.

 

"She now has this rich man who still fancies her which she quite likes to keep on the back burner to massage her ego as no one else ever does!

 

"Added to which, Terry is so obsessed and blinkered with the football that everything else is a bit incidental – he really doesn't seem to mind that Steve is still in love with his wife!"

 

She continues: "The filming itself was enormous fun and we even had some time beforehand to prepare for our roles.

 

"Matt the director and Sue the producer thought it would be a good idea if we all met up in London to rehearse and create back stories, which was great as by the time we started filming we'd already done the background work and knew our characters pretty well."

 

She admits that the improvisation element was slightly daunting at first: "We tended to do the whole scene scripted and then they just kept rolling the film to see what happened; sometimes that works and sometimes you think 'I can't be funny – I have nothing to contribute!'

 

"One day Steve Edge and I sat on the couch and the director was asking us questions about our characters, how we'd got together and so on and we were there for about half an hour answering in character which is not something I've ever done before.

 

"The first week I was a bit nervous and intimidated but in rehearsals Matt was adamant that it didn't have to be funny, that if anything did come out of it they could use then great – so the pressure was off and I actually began to really enjoy the whole experience."

 

Obsession with football rings very true for Jennifer: "My whole family are Man City fans and my Dad was and still is mad about football and City.

 

"But I'm more of a tennis fan and used to go to Wimbledon whenever I could when I lived in London. So I've been dragged somewhat begrudgingly into football but know what goes on and how passionate people are about it.

 

"I'm one of three daughters – I dread to think what my dad would have been like if he'd had a son!"

 

Jennifer thoroughly enjoyed filming The Cup – and particularly working with her on-screen husband Steve Edge, who used to be a stand-up comedian.

 

She says: "At times I actually found it quite hard to keep a straight face as Steve is just hilarious. Everything that comes out of his mouth has the whole crew crying with laughter and I'm trying to keep myself together – he's just naturally very, very funny."

 


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