The Paradise series two

The glittering drama set in England's first department store returns for a second series

Interview with Emun Elliott

Category: BBC One; Drama

For people who want to watch series two but didn’t catch series one, can you sum up Moray’s actions at the end of the series?

It seems like such a long time ago now. At the end of series one, Moray was set to marry Katherine Glendenning, the wealthiest woman in the town. At the last minute, he decided he didn’t want to go through with it. He turned his back on the wedding, leaving Katherine standing at the altar, and ran towards Denise to proclaim his love for her. That’s how we ended series one.

There’s been a year since series one ended and series two begins. What has happened to Moray in that time?

Moray has kind of been banished by Lord Glendenning, Katherine’s dad, understandably. He goes off and leaves The Paradise in Dudley hands. He travels the world, visiting Paris and Morocco, sourcing and curating things to sell. He’s spent all of his time working rather than moping, he figures out a way to just carry on. Then out of the blue, a letter arrives in Paris from Katherine asking him to come back and rescue The Paradise.

What are Moray’s feelings for Denise now?

They shift throughout series two, but if we start from the first episode, he’s been longing to see her for a year and been missing her. We all know how painful that can be, even if it’s only been a couple of weeks. He’s been away a whole year and there’s no telephones or Skype! But Moray is good at distracting himself and has consumed himself with work to distract him from what’s going on in the emotional side of his life. He’s pining to see her and eventually he is allowed and invited to come back and is just delighted to see her. At the same time, he’s cautious because things are far more complicated and everybody knows what happened, so he’s treading carefully and he reminds Denise of that immediately. He’s very suspicious of why he’s been asked to come back to The Paradise; something doesn’t feel right about it.

Are his ambitions for The Paradise as strong as ever? Is his heart still in it?

They are even stronger because he has more to fight against and he’s not the kind of guy that backs down easily. The bigger the obstacle the more effort he’ll put in to coming out on top. He wants it back even more because the stakes are much higher this time.

How does he feel about Tom Weston?

They’re definitely not best friends and I don’t think they ever will be. He starts off trying to be charming and courteous and mature and part of him hopes they can just get along and the thing with Katherine won’t get in the way. But that’s naive and it all starts falling apart after the first episode. They don’t get on at all. He realises the potential danger and threat of Tom, because he is effectively his boss and can fire him at any time. Tom’s also an ex-solider so Moray treads carefully and tries to cover his animosity to Tom with charm and good-will, at least to begin with.

There’s a lot of talk in The Paradise about progress and change. Is Moray a modern man and does he want to modernise The Paradise?

Yes definitely. I think he always has and that’s why he’s done so well. This is a young man in 1875 running this beautiful and colourful shop. In that sense alone he is a modern man. I’m sure the majority of men back then were doing labouring and grafting jobs. He’s secure in himself. That’s highlighted through Tom Weston, who is more old-fashioned. There’s a conflict between their values and the way they live.

What has the viewers’ reaction to Moray been? Has it been what you expected?  

The reaction to Moray has been really split down the middle. Some people judge him for the greedy, ambitious, capitalist side of him and others give him more of a chance and realise that he’s got a good heart and he’s doing these things for personal reasons and for what he believes is the greater good.

How has it felt to be back playing Moray?

For me, strangely it didn’t really feel like we had ever left, which is probably a good thing. It felt like a continuation. It was great to come back and see everyone.

Are there any fun stories from filming?

We’ve got table tennis and table football in the green room this year, which have provided lots of laughs. We’ve got a table tennis tournament going on at the moment. The people that aren’t any good tend not to play. Ben never plays so I’ve got a feeling that he’s pretty bad.