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Thursday 27 Nov 2014

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Just William – Daniel Ryan and Rebecca Front play Mr and Mrs Brown

Rebecca Front

Rebecca Front

So, who is Mrs Brown?

"She's a post war housewife who doesn't have staff so she does everything herself with what appears to be varying degrees of success," reveals Rebecca. "She's very devoted to Mr Brown, very happily married and rather indulgent with the children."

Would you liked to have lived in that era?

"I would have hated to have been a full time housewife and I would have been rubbish at it. I'm very good now at all the Nigella Lawson, flitting about making jam when I've got the day off sort of thing but the thought of doing it all day, every day with absolutely no help at all would drive me insane," she reveals. "My kids don't have the same expectations, people are quite happy to muddle along and we all help out at home. I think that idea of having to keep the house perfect and having to put three good meals on the table that you do yourself all the time would have been insufferable."

What are your memories of Just William?

"I think I came to the books as a teenager, actually. Obviously, Violet Elizabeth made a huge impact but more than anything the reason I love the stories is the same reason I like PG Wodehouse – the prose style.

"I really like the way Richmal Crompton uses language, which is why I think it's brilliant they've got a narrator on the show, as without hearing Richmal Crompton's voice you lose a lot of the humour. It's not just about the farcical stories, it's about that beautiful understatement.

"And what's wonderful in the way Richmal writes is that she uses quite an adult voice and quite adult language. She justifies the way William's thinking and you follow his thought process."

Daniel Ryan

Daniel Ryan

What attracted you to your role in Just William?

"It's irresistible, isn't it? It's sort of like being offered something in Harry Potter or Doctor Who, you just can't say no. They're iconic stories.

"I had just come off a play and another series for the BBC so I promised my children I'd take them on holiday for the summer holidays, but then I was offered this and thought: 'Now I've got to be the worst father in the world and say I'm going to work for the next five weeks.' Luckily, they were really excited I was going to be in Just William, so I was forgiven."

So, who is Mr Brown?

"I don't think I've ever played a character like Mr Brown before. He's probably the straightest and most subdued person I've ever played. He's a victim of his era. Having been away in the army he suddenly finds himself an alien to his three children and vice versa.

Certainly the way Mr and Mrs Brown were brought up would have been very different from their children and they're trying to bridge that gap. But that's the same nowadays, the younger generation seem to be a far cry from their older relatives."

Daniel's time on Just William has allowed him to do period work on screen – something he's been wanting to do for a long time.

"I'm always so envious of anyone who gets to arrive in a scene on a horse or in a great big vintage car," he explains. "As you can see in the show, I've got this moustache on my face which looks slightly ridiculous so I'll be looking forward to losing that! I should have gone for the stick-on – damn me and my method ways!"

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