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Saturday 12 Jul 2014

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The Mad Men - and Women - are back! Interview with Matt Weiner

© Lionsgate. Jon Hamm as Don Draper

Forty-three-year-old Matthew is the creator, executive producer and head writer of Mad Men.

He also wrote and produced The Sopranos for the show's fifth and sixth seasons.

Mad Men won the Best Drama award at the Golden Globes for the second year running. There were also nominations for Jon Hamm for Best Actor (an award he won in 2008) and for January Jones (Betty) for Best Actress.

The series also picked up six Emmy Primetime Awards in 2008 and was the most nominated drama.

Here, Matthew tells BBC Programme Information how proud he is of Mad Men and gives viewers a little sneak preview into the new series … without giving too much away.

You must be delighted with the success that Mad Men has had recently. How did it feel to win six Emmys?

I am thrilled. It was an amazing experience to be recognised by our peers and to see people championing the quality of the show. Honestly, it's been a very good year for television and that has made it extra exciting for me. It's kind of cool to be singled out in the middle of that.

Are you pleased with the second series?

Oh yes – if you had asked me at the beginning of it I would have been hedging a lot more, and talking about how I hope people don't discover I'm a fraud.

I actually think that we built on that, and I think it is a lot deeper and maybe the timing, also, seems to be very much related to what is going on right now, even unintentionally on some level.

I was writing about something I was interested in, but it really seems to have resonated. I'm really proud of the storytelling – all aspects of the production and the writing and action – everything seemed to be clicking.

It is a totally new story with the same people, it is the next chapter in their lives and it is on the level that they seem more confident and both more bewildering and shocking.

There were lots of surprises in store in the first series – can we expect the same in series two?

It is completely immersive and it is very addictive and I think that there is at least one "holy s***" moment in every episode.

I think it is very engaging and you will care about these people and it is immersive. It sticks in your consciousness for whatever reason because of the way it was shot and edited and performed and written, but there is, in the midst of this dishonesty, a very deep level of honesty, and I think people have had a very personal experience with it. I love hearing them talk about it, I've eavesdropped on strangers having conversations about it and it is a big topic in therapy.

Don is an amazing and very complex character. There were lots of revelations concerning that character at the end of the first series – how do you deal with these in the opening episode of series two?

Well I think you will see that 15 months have passed and there has been some kind of accord reached between him and his wife, although I do hope that you might wonder in the first episode whether they are still married.

I feel like it is the next stage in his life and he is not exactly complacent but he is watching the world change around him.

He has dealt with these revelations the only way he can, which is by digging his heels in, and I think he has tried to change and we don't know how that is going to stick, but you know it is a totally new story.

This is not a story about his identity being revealed any more. The way I like to describe it is that Don Draper is doing great, but Dick Whitman is in a lot of trouble and that comes out in every aspect of his life.

We also think Peggy is a great character with big potential. What's in store for her in this series?

All I can tell you is that, again, time has passed and you don't know how that has played into her life or out in the office.

As with everything in the show, part of my message is that yes, it is a drama, yes the events are big, but what differentiates it is that the consequences are dealt with in a very real way. And Peggy is torn between the consequences of her past and the path of her future.

I think she has an amazing season ahead. I think you will be very interested and surprised where it goes. It is completely within her character, completely the next chapter in her life, but I think that you could guess for a million years and you would never know what it is all about yet.

We know how old all of them are [Draper, it is revealed, is 36], and all of them are growing up. But are they facing the changes and opportunities with complacency? Are they struggling against them? Are they trying to steer their lives?

You never know when the curtain comes up whose life you will be following but, hopefully, each one of them is a little movie and each is about personal struggles, not historical or symbolic struggles.

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