Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
How would describe your character Johnny?
He's a cheeky, down-to-earth young lad from a northern mining village. He's 'downstairs' through and through. He's come to London because his mum wants him to have a better life. She brings him down to London, where he is interviewed by the Hollands. He gets the job, and the downstairs family takes him under their wing. He grows quite close to Ivy – who's played by Ellie Kendrick. They have a bit of a fling, which spirals out of control.
Upstairs Downstairs is a massive brand. Did it mean anything to you before taking the role?
When I found out I got the part, my mum was amazed! This show used to be a massive cult event that people would come home early from the pubs and clubs to watch. It used to be something that would bring the family together. On one of my days off, I flicked the TV channel over and happened to come across one of the old episodes. I found myself gripped and really getting in to it. The stories were great. And hopefully this new series will have the same effect. It will definitely keep the viewers interested, and wanting more.
Did you do any research into the period before you started filming?
I read a few books. It was quite a shock when I found out what it was like for people back then. I didn't really understand that there was such a divide between the upstairs and downstairs. So to learn about that was fascinating. Everyone was really helpful on the production team. Any books that they had for research they would pass on to help me get a wider sense of how it was. Having Jean Marsh there was also a huge education. Jean knows what she's talking about in so many different aspects – be it from the acting to historical facts. She's just so knowledgeable. She knows everything. It's her creation so she would make a conscious effort to make sure that everything was perfect. You don't get that everywhere.
What is it about the scripts that people will love so much?
The way Heidi has written is so special. The way she tells it is so nice. She brings the characters to life and every line has such meaning. I think you can see that in the characters. I've not read any of her work before. And I was blown away at just how amazing her work is. It's such a privilege to bring her words to life.
How does it feel to be part of Upstairs Downstairs' return to TV?
I'm honoured to have been a part of it – to be part of something so special. It has such a following. I think this new series is going to be something really special – like the original. I really think that it will appeal to a younger generation. There are things happening that they will be able to identify with. And the characters are very identifiable and the audience will be able to connect with them. There's someone for everyone. It takes all sorts of people to make up 165 Eaton Place.
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