David Tennant has been talking about his new role in the BBC Four comedy drama, There She Goes, which premieres on Tuesday 16th October at 10pm.
The five part series centres on a severely learning disabled nine year-old girl Rosie (Miley Locke), her dad Simon (David Tennant), mum Emily (Jessica Hynes) and brother Ben (Edan Hayhurst).All the stories and characters are drawn from the real life experience of writer Shaun Pye, whose daughter was born in 2006 with an extremely rare and to date undiagnosed chromosomal disorder. Each episode shines a light on day to day life with Rosie - unique experiences from simply trying to take her to the park to trying to explain that every day isn’t her birthday. A second timeline set in 2006 shows the effect having a severely disabled child had on the family unit, how it threatened to disintegrate but ultimately brought them even closer.
Shaun’s honesty. It was so difficult to read at times. It’s so moving, so real and unlike anything I have really read before or seen before. In some ways it has the trappings of a sitcom, but it certainly does not read like one at all. It’s just the clarity of that voice, the extraordinariness of the situation and the familiarity of parenthood. Shaun is writing so truthfully about this very particular experience of parenthood. I have known him for years because we have worked together on Have I Got News For You and Jonathan Ross. I have also known him a bit socially, but I had no idea that this was his life. To read something that is written so well that also has such a clear distinct, honest, moving and funny voice - well, that’s quite a rarity.
You have worked with Jessica before. Is that pre-existing chemistry important?
Yes. I think familiarity is always helpful when you are trying to tell the story of a couple that have been together for a number of years, especially as we zip back and forward in time and see them at different points of the relationship. Jess and I have worked together several times now, so anything that you can do to develop a shorthand helps. It’s an ease that hopefully will help us to just make it as real as possible.
How have you found it working with Miley?
She’s astonishing. It’s a very difficult brief she has got because she has no words. But she has got such a pragmatism about her. Maybe it’s just the gift of being younger, but you don’t sense the kind of self-consciousness in her that others might feel in taking on a role like that. She can slip in and out of being Rosie without any kind of comment. That is more difficult to do than it might seem, and yet it is we need in these circumstances. She is a remarkable little girl.
How would you describe Simon? Is it fair to say that he’s a bit of an idiot sometimes?
Yes. Fair play to Shaun for accepting that he behaved like a bit of an idiot sometimes. I can see why that must have been awful and difficult and infuriating for his wife, and I can absolutely agree that that was not the optimum behaviour. But I certainly don’t blame him for that.
Are you concerned that some viewers might be perturbed by There She Goes?
I wanted to do this because it is so honest and so candid and because it is absolutely history. You do not worry about the political correctness or otherwise of it because it cannot be anything other than just Shaun’s honest story. It’s the reality of what happened to him and his family, and so there is no kind of comment on that other than just, of course, that’s what happened. That is the situation they were in, and the fact that he has managed to be so honest about his own shortcomings within that is creditable as well.
Do you think that what Shaun has done is brave?
It is terribly brave, yes, as well as therapeutic and cathartic, I’m sure. There was one day where we just talked and talked for hours about it all, and at the end he said, “Oh, that was rather a good therapy session”. I suppose there must be a lot to unpack, and I think writing about it helps you unpack it. But it must also be very challenging to look back on what have been certainly some very difficult moments.
But Shaun and his wife have done brilliantly, haven’t they?
Yes. It is just wonderful that they have come through it - what a credit to them! I do not speak for Shaun, but he talks very openly about when it could have gone either way. But life worked out for them and they found a way of coping.
There She Goes is a wonderful melange of comedy and drama. Is that a hard tone to strike?
I think it is just life. If it is funny, it’s funny because Shaun is a funny human being, and therefore reacts to his life with a kind of comic bent. What it is not is a sequence of comic happenings. It is just things that have happened to Shaun and his family. That has been really important to me, and it’s something we have all talked about from the off; at no point are we trying to construct comic moments. We have got to be ruthlessly honest about how we play it, just as he has been ruthlessly honest in the writing of it. As soon as you start looking for funny moments or a comic complication beyond the fact of what might happen in a situation, you are lost because you lose the truth of it. What makes it powerful is that it is just what happened.
How do you think viewers will react to There She Goes?
If it is challenging now and again to people watching it, I think that is OK. It is not like we are talking about something that does not happen and we are not making judgments about it, and we are not trying to say it is one thing or another. It is hard to portray, hard to tell and also hard to make generalisations about, so we are not trying to do that. We are just trying to be open and honest. In the end, it is really good that as a society we just remember all the people who are underrepresented. I am delighted this is happening.
Thanks to the BBC