Meet The Characters Of The Politician's Husband: No. 2 - Freya Gardner

Before The Politician's Husband begins on BBC Two tonight, we're running down the main characters that you will be meeting in the next three weeks. The Politician's Husband, created by Paula Milne, is a taut drama exploring power and betrayal in the corridors of Parliament.

This time we explore rising political star Freya Gardner

Freya Gardner

Played by Emily Watson

Although equally able, if not as talented as her husband, Freya had to put the brakes on her own political career in order to provide stability for the family.

Even so, as a Junior Minister, most recognize she is a political star in the making.

When she finally gets onto the Front Bench, she starts to feel an overdue sense of her own potential - and the lure of power.

Emily Watson on Freya: 

When we first meet her, Freya is the junior education minister. She's seen as a high flyer with big prospects. We also know that she met Aiden and Bruce at university. So the story I constructed in my head was that they were probably all at Oxford together - all very brilliant, clever young people. In the beginning I think Freya probably wanted to change lives; I think that's innate in her. But I think they also quickly learned to embrace the political way of thinking. They're people who came through the Westminster system from a young age. They probably started off as interns and have learned how to work the system.

You don't end up being an MP or a cabinet minister without being unbelievably ambitious. But the interesting thing about Freya is that she has an emotional intelligence to go with that. Which means that she deals her cards in a more subtle way. Aiden is such a blunt instrument in the way that he tries to achieve things. He lets his lower nature get the better of him. Whereas Freya has a full orchestra of subtle, womanly ways at her disposal. And she knows how to use them.

Outwardly they look like a normal family with a nice suburban home, a couple of kids and successful careers. But that only scratches the surface. Their sexual relationship is quite interesting, put it that way! Their sexual tastes are slightly to the left of usual; quite edgy and aggressive. I think they're the sort of couple who, if they have a problem, solve it in bed. They don't necessarily talk about things in the way they should. I think that's one of the interesting things about this drama. It takes a public couple and then shows you what happens behind closed doors, to reveal an archetypal power struggle between two individuals.

Aiden and Freya clearly operate in a very cynical world. There's one scene for example where Freya has to make a speech in Parliament. It's her maiden speech in the House of Commons and it's a complete bear pit. Everyone's yelling at her. And it goes very well. But if you actually analyse the speech, it's really total BS! There's nothing to it. It's just a sort of point-scoring exercise. So she manages to be a complete success without saying anything of substance whatsoever. I thought that was really interesting. And I have to say I got a real kick out of filming that scene. It was really fun.

Paula Milne on Freya:

Initially, Freya seems like the dutiful wife who is stepping back to allow her talented husband to take the crown. The resentment she feels only becomes clear as the story unfolds. There’s a scene in episode one where she walks into the Cabinet Room. I wrote in the stage directions: “She puts her hands on the table and feels, for the first time, the thermals of power...” And I think that scene puts the audience in advance of Aiden. Because then they know something he doesn’t: that, suddenly, she feels it. She wants it. She gets sucked into that vortex of wanting power.

Emily’s natural gravitas gives her amazing credibility as a politician... Yet you also believe she's a mother... A tricky high wire act!

Watch episode 1 of The Politician's Husband on BBC Two tonight from 9pm