Interview with Jason Isaacs, Dyan Cannon, Jennifer Grant and Jeff Pope

TV Interview!

 

Jason Isaacs, Dyan Cannon, Jennifer Grant and Jeff Pope of "Archie" on Britbox

Interview with Jason Isaacs, Dyan Cannon, Jennifer Grant and Jeff Pope of “Archie” on Britbox by Jamie 12/5/23

From executive producer Jeff Pope, “Archie,” now on Britbox, brings the little-known story of actor Cary Grant’s rise to stardom, starting with his formative years as the troubled Archie Leach, who overcame his struggles to reinvent himself, to become the superstar the public knew.

Pope, along with Cary Grant’s daughter, Jennifer Grant, and Dyan Cannon, his ex-wife, as well as Jason Isaacs, the actor who stars in the title role, spoke with Jamie Ruby for TVMEG.COM earlier in the week.

The idea to do the series first came to Pope after reading Jennifer Grant’s book, Good Stuff, about her father. “I became fascinated with the kind of wit and humor of the man, as Jennifer relayed,” said Pope. The producer hadn’t realized that Cary had retired, and wanted to know why. “[W]hen he became a father, he gave it all up to become a stay at home dad, and I thought, that was my starting point…when you dig back into his past, you realize, because of his traumatic childhood, he was so determined that he was going to be the best father he could, and not be an absent father, which a continuing movie career would have meant.”

It was ten years ago when he first came to Cannon and told her he wanted to make the movie. “We talked it right into being and now it’s a four hour miniseries, which gives the audience a full bodied look at him,” said Cannon, who wrote memoirs from which the series was also partly based, adding that she was involved in both the casting and the biggest decision making and that she is is thrilled with the way it’s turned out, including the performances.

Jennifer Grant spoke to Isaacs’ performance in particular. “I was very grateful…that we found Jason,” she told the site. “He really had dad’s voice and dad’s mannerisms, and dad’s tenderness, especially, so it was a bizarre process watching my mom and dad.”

Series’ star Isaacs spoke about that transformation during the interview, praising the creative team for the physical part of it. “Mostly it was other people doing the work,” he said. “It was extraordinary costumes that were tailor made by the best tailors in the world and that compensated for my various punches and twists. Liz Headley, our incredible makeup artist gave me a chin and eyes and hair and, obviously, prosthetics when he gets heavy and he’s older. So, a lot of it was done for me.”

It was Grant’s voice that was the most difficult for Isaacs. “I didn’t want to do the voice he does in the movies, because I knew that nobody talks like that in real life,” he said. “I don’t mean the accent. I mean, his speech patterns were so similar, so repeated, that there was no way he was like that when he was being spontaneous. I found only one elicit recording of an interview he gave once, because he didn’t do interviews, and didn’t really want…the world to see who Cary Grant really was. Cary Grant was Archie Leach, and behind closed doors, when he stepped off screen, he was someone entirely different.”

Isaacs learned a lot about Grant during the process. “I don’t think anybody, unless they’ve read the biographies and read Dyan’s book, knew that this man who was famous for one or two things, being suave and debonair, was the very opposite, who seemed the very epitome of certainty and masculinity and solidity, was so fragile and so fractious and so angry at the world and himself,” said the actor.

Watch the miniseries to find out more about Cary Grant yourself, now on Britbox, and be sure to watch the full interviews with the cast and crew below!

MORE INFO: Trailer   Official site

Key art for "Archie" on Britbox

Coming to BritBox in North America December 7, 2023, Archie outlines the life of the infamous Cary Grant. Born in Bristol, England in 1904, to parents Elsie and Elias, Archie narrates the story of a young Archibald Alexander Leach’s troubled childhood and how extreme poverty, his father’s adultery and the loss of his older brother, John, tore the family apart and sent his loving mother into a downward spiral of grief and depression. Jeff Pope’s scripts reveal how deceit, cruelty and one, overpowering lie shaped Archie’s life. At 14 he auditioned for the music hall act, the Bob Pender Troupe, a band of acrobats, stilt walkers, clowns and comedians after seeing them perform at the Bristol Hippodrome. Lean and athletic, he learned the art of stilt walking, and when the troupe went on tour to the US, teenage Archie was intoxicated by the land of opportunity. Believing he had no family to return to in the UK, he decided to stay in the US to try to make his way in showbusiness.

With no thoughts of acting, a chance meeting with the comedian George Burns helped him find his first footing on the acting ladder and a contract with a movie studio who felt he needed to change his name, and Cary Grant was born. The drama intercuts with scenes from 1961 when at the height of his fame, living in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, the legendary actor was breaking all box office records, but desperately unhappy in his private life. With two failed marriages behind him, he began to woo an actress he’d seen on a TV show, Dyan Cannon. Thirty-three years his junior, Dyan, didn’t initially fall for his charms turning down his attempts to meet, because she didn’t feel they could ever be a match. Dashingly handsome, suave and sophisticated, Cary continued to pursue her, with introductions to his famous friends, until they eventually wed in Las Vegas in 1965.

The series also stars Laura Aikman (Not Going Out, Gavin and Stacey) as Cary’s formidable ex-wife, actress and filmmaker Dyan Cannon, with Harriet Walter (Succession, Ted Lasso, Killing Eve) as Elsie Leach, Cary’s mother.

Dainton Anderson (Patrick Melrose), Calam Lynch (Bridgerton) and Oaklee Pendergast (Home) play young versions of Archie Leach, and Kara Tointon (Mr Selfridge, The Halcyon, Sound of Music Live) plays young Elsie.

Archie is a 4 x 60 mins drama commissioned by ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill for ITVX. Rebecca Hodgson (Sherwood, The Irregulars, Deep Water, The Road to Coronation Street) is the producer and Paul Andrew Williams (A Confession, London to Brighton, Song for Marion) directs. With the blessing of Cary Grant’s daughter, Jennifer Grant, and ex-wife Dyan Cannon, the pair serve as Executive Producers. Jeff Pope executive produces the series for Etta Pictures with Diederick Santer for BritBox International. The series is coming to BritBox in December 2023.

All of the actors who played Cary Grant in "Archie" on Britbox - Matt Squire _ ITV Studios

Jason Isaacs was born in Liverpool. He studied law at Bristol University but fell in love with the theatre and directed, produced and appeared in dozens of productions there, at the National Student Theatre Festival and at the Edinburgh Festival. He graduated in 1985 but then attended the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and began working in 1988.

Jason’s notable roles include Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, Mr. Darling/Captain Hook in Peter Pan (2003), and many soldiers: Col. William Tavington in Roland Emmerich’s The Patriot (2000), Captain Steele in Ridley Scott’s Blackhawk Down, Major Briggs in Paul Greengrass’s Green Zone, Captain Waggoner in Fury, Captain Lorca in Star Trek: Discovery, Field Marshall Zhukov in Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin and Rear-Admiral Godfrey in John Madden’s Operation Mincemeat. He was Hap in the cult series The OA, Maurice in the WW2 film Good (2008) and Jay in the multi-award winning MASS. He has made many TV series in Britain and the US and has won or been nominated for a Golden Globe, International Emmy, BAFTA, Critics Choice, Peabody, Satellite and many other awards.

On stage he was Louis Ironson in the original productions of Angels in America parts 1 and 2 for the Royal National Theatre and has performed at the Royal Court, Almeida and West End Theatres.

Jason is married to documentary filmmaker Emma Hewitt, who he met at drama school and with whom he has two children.

Laura Aikman and Dyan Cannon and Jason Isaacs as Cary Grant in "Archie" on Britbox; Matt Squire _ ITV StudiosDyan Cannon is the first woman in the history of the Motion Picture Academy to be nominated for Oscars both in front of and behind the camera. Her diligence and determination have been rewarded by many prestigious honors.

She received her first Academy Award nomination for her memorable role as Alice in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), opposite Natalie Wood and directed by Paul Mazursky. For her performance, she garnered the coveted New York Film Critics Award.

Dyan received her second Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Live Action Short for writing and directing the 48-minute film, Number One (1976), which she also produced, edited and scored. The New York Times commended the film as one of the best movies ever made concerning children’s development.

She received her third Academy Award nomination for her comedic role as Julia Farnsworth, opposite Warren Beatty, in Heaven Can Wait (1978), for which she won the Golden Globe Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Later that year, she starred in another comedy hit, Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978), opposite Peter Sellers and directed by Blake Edwards, and was named Female Star of the Year by NATO (National Association of Theater Owners).

As the singular force behind the motion picture The End of Innocence (1990), Dyan undertook a triumvirate of tasks as writer, director and star. Dyan’s work received amazing reviews from the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.

Dyan has co-starred on two outstanding prime-time television shows. For several years, she brought her own brand of humor, class and sexiness to the role of Whipper Cone on the Emmy Award winning series Ally McBeal (1997). She then starred as the vivacious and free-spirited Honey Bernstein-Flynn on NBC’s comedy series Three Sisters (2001).

Her filmography is vast and includes TNT’s remake of the Warner Bros.’ Classic Christmas in Connecticut (1992), directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger; Author! Author! (1982) opposite Al Pacino; The Last of Sheila (1973), directed by Herbert Ross; two films directed by Sidney Lumet; Deathtrap (1982), co-starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve, and The Anderson Tapes (1971), starring Sean Connery; and Honeysuckle Rose (1980), in which she played Willie Nelson‘s wife and made her debut as a country music singer; Such Good Friends (1971), directed by Otto Preminger…and numerous other films. She has starred on Broadway and in her own musical stage act at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe. Dyan co-wrote the title song for Chaka Khan‘s album, The Woman I Am, with Brenda Russell.

Dyan wanted to take time off from her acting career to write. During the next nine years, she not only collaborated on a Broadway musical, but wrote her memoir, “Dear Cary,” which was on the New York Times best seller list three different times spanning four years. It is now being made into a miniseries.Laura Aikman and Dyan Cannon and Jason Isaacs as Cary Grant in "Archie" on Britbox; Matt Squire _ ITV Studios

Dyan is recognized as an exceptional motivational speaker for prominent associations and corporations. Children are her passion and most of her work centers around the care and welfare of kids. She is the national spokesperson for the Hemangioma Treatment Foundation, an organization that provides treatment to children all over the world who are afflicted with vascular birthmarks. She is the international executive spokesperson for Operation Lookout, an organization dedicated to recovering missing and exploited children who have been kidnapped from their homes, schools, etc. She has also been national spokesperson for Martin Colette’s Wildlife Waystation, an international refuge that rescues and rehabilitates wild and exotic animals, as well as national spokesperson for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America

In addition, she devotes time and energy to several other charitable organizations such as California’s Special Olympics for physically and mentally challenged athletes and also works with recovering addicts weekly.

Dyan is a permanent court-side fixture at the Los Angeles Lakers basketball games.

Jennifer Grant  is the daughter of actors Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon. Her father initially opposed her becoming an actress. She graduated from Stanford with a degree in history and political science in 1987. Initially, she went to work in a law firm and later tried a stint as a chef. But, finally, she decided to move into acting in 1993, landing her first role on Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990).

Jeff Pope is a British television producer and screenwriter who co-wrote the film Pierrepoint and the television drama The Fattest Man in Britain and who won a BAFTA in 2006 for the drama See No Evil: The Moors Murders. He is also the Head of ITV Productions Factual Drama. Pope wrote the screenplay for the 2018 film Stan & Ollie, and co-wrote the 2022 film The Lost King.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

 

Jason Isaacs, Dyan Cannon, Jennifer Grant and Jeff Pope of "Archie" on Britbox (from Twitter)

 

Interviews with actors and writers of “The Tower 2: Death Message”

TV Interview!

 

Stars Gemma Whelan, Jimmy Akingbola and Tahirah Sharif of "The Tower 2: Death Message" on Britbox

Interviews with actors and writers of “The Tower 2: Death Message” on Britbox by Suzanne 5/3/23

This was so much fun! I had never heard of this series (I don’t normally watch Britbox), so I watched the first series, “The Tower” and then the upcoming episodes of “The Tower 2: Death Message.” They were very entertaining. If you loved the books, or you liked the first series, you will certainly enjoy the second one. It has the same actors and a similar story, but with more action and character development. Of course, it has a great mystery or two. Speaking with the writers and actors was great because they were kind and funny.

First, I spoke with Writer and Executive Producer Patrick Harbinson and Author and Executive Producer Kate London. I generally only speak to actors and producers, so it’s a rare treat to speak to a writer or director. They didn’t disappoint!

Writer and Executive Producer Patrick Harbinson and Author and Executive Producer Kate London

 

Next I spoke with Stars Gemma Whelan, Jimmy Akingbola and Tahirah Sharif!

Stars Gemma Whelan, Jimmy Akingbola and Tahirah Sharif

 

MORE INFO:

Britbox by BBC and ITV logo

Stars Gemma Whelan, Jimmy Akingbola and Tahirah Sharif of "The Tower 2: Death Message" on Britbox*Trailer Debut* THE TOWER 2: Death Message | Returning May 16 | Starring Gemma Whelan, Tahirah Sharif, Jimmy Akingbola & Emmett J. Scanlan

GEMMA WHELAN-LED CRIME THRILLER

 THE TOWER 2: DEATH MESSAGE

 PREMIERES MAY 16

ON BRITBOX IN NORTH AMERICA

Watch the trailer HERE

Season 2 of the Hit Drama From Homeland Writer and Executive Producer Patrick Harbinson to Have its World Premiere on BritBox,

 with Season One BAFTA Television Award-Nominated Actress Tahirah Sharif, Jimmy Akingbola, and Emmett J. Scanlan Also Returning

New York, NY – April 21, 2023 – BritBox, the world leader in British streaming, will exclusively premiere gripping crime drama The Tower 2: Death Message from May 16 in North America. The four-episode thriller is returning for a second season, airing weekly on BritBox, following its 2021 hit first installment, The Tower, also available on the service.

The critically-acclaimed crime drama is written and executive produced by Patrick Harbinson (Homeland, 24), and produced by Harbinson’s Windhover Films and Mammoth Screen, in association with ITV Studios. It stars Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones, Gentleman Jack), Jimmy Akingbola (Bel-Air, Ted Lasso), Tahirah Sharif (The Haunting of Bly Manor, A Christmas Prince), BAFTA Television Award-nominated for her performance in season one, and Emmett J. Scanlan (Peaky Blinders, Kin).

The Tower 2: Death Message is based on the second novel in author Kate London’s best-selling series. Following the dramatic climax of season one, rookie Police Constable Lizzie Adama (Sharif) returns to her London police station where she finds herself fighting to protect a mother and daughter in peril. Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Sarah Collins (Whelan) has transferred to Homicide Command. When she is tasked with re-opening a cold case involving a missing schoolgirl, her investigations take an unexpected turn, leading her to cross paths with Lizzie once again. Detective Inspector Kieran Shaw (Scanlan) wants to recruit Detective Sergeant Steve Bradshaw (Akingbola) for a specialist task force, targeting a major organized crime figure, but he must convince Steve he can be trusted. This latest season promises another complex, authentic and topical crime story that will keep audiences gripped.

Season one followed Detective Sergeant Sarah Collins as she set out to uncover the truth around two grisly deaths discovered at the bottom of a residential apartment building. The investigation led her into a dark conspiracy in which her relationship with Lizzie Adama was tested to the limits. All three episodes of season one are now available on BritBox ahead of the season two debut.

Patrick Harbinson and Kate London executive produce the series alongside Mammoth Screen’s Sheena Bucktowonsing and Damien Timmer. Andy Mosse (The Last Bus, The Darkest Dawn, Hungerford) produces and Faye Gilbert (The Bay, The Line, Leaving Eva) directs.

About BritBox

Known for the best in British content, BritBox offers a large collection of originals, co-productions, and other popular programming. The critically acclaimed BritBox Original co-production Stonehouse launched on the service in January, and is a dramatized limited series covering the extraordinary story of disgraced Labour Minister John Stonehouse, starring the Emmy-winning Matthew Macfadyen. Other popular recent series include Karen Pirie, starring Lauren Lyle; the must-see drama Sherwood, starring Lesley Manville and David Morrissey and written by James Graham, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? produced, directed, and adapted for screen by Hugh Laurie and starring Will Poulter and Lucy Boynton as well as The Confessions of Frannie Langton, another BritBox International co-production, from the award-winning novel by Sara Collins and starring Karla-Simone Spence and Sophie Cookson.

BritBox is available for $7.99 per month/79.99 per year—after an introductory free trial period—on Roku®, Amazon Fire TV stick, Apple TV 4th Gen, Samsung, LG and all iOS and Android devices, AirPlay, Chromecast, and online at https://www.britbox.com/us/. BritBox is also available on Amazon Channels for Prime members and on Apple TV Channels on supported devices.

BritBox is a digital video subscription service offering the largest collection of British TV in the U.S. and Canada. Created by two British content powerhouses—BBC Studios, the subsidiary arm of the BBC, and ITV, the UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster—the service features iconic favorites, exclusive premieres, and current series and soaps—most available within 24 hours after their UK premiere. BritBox also offers expert curation and playlists that enable fans to easily find programs they know and discover new favorites via the web, mobile, tablet and connected TVs.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

 

Stars Gemma Whelan and Jimmy Akingbola of "The Tower 2: Death Message" on Britbox

 

Interview with Roger Allam, Keala Settle and Nancy Carroll

TV Interview!

"Murder in Provence" starring Roger Allam, Keala Settle and Nancy Carroll

Interview with Roger Allam, Keala Settle and Nancy Carroll of “Murder in Provence” on Britbox by Suzanne 2/9/22

This is an interesting murder mystery series on Britbox, based on the Verlaque and Bonnet series of books by M.L. Longworth.  Allam plays Antoine Verlaque, who’s a veteran judge (AKA chief magistrate). He and his partner, Marie (Carroll), drink a lot of wine, eat great food, and solve murders. They’re like the French “Hart to Hart.”  The writing is better, though. They’re aided by deputy commissioner Hélène Paulik (Keala Settle). In France, judges do investigations. While they call this “Provence,” its actual name is Aix-en-Provence.  The show takes place in the south of France.  Most of the actors are British, although Settle is American.  The show was shot in France, and the characters are French. I enjoyed this virtual TCA Zoom panel.

BRITBOX CTAM PRESS TOUR WINTER 2022
Murder in Provence
Roger Allam, Cast
Keala Settle, Cast
Nancy Carroll, Cast
2022 Virtual Tour
Los Angeles, CA
February 9, 2022
© 2022 BritBox. All rights reserved.

The show is from Britbox and from Alison Owen and Debra Hayward of Monumental Pictures, who were nominated for an Oscar for “Les Misérables” (2012). The series has three parts, but those of us in the press were allowed to see just the first part.

At first, we just had Nancy and Keala. Roger arrived a bit late.

They were asked if the show was shot in Provence. Kela was asked if she was disappointed having to either move to Provence or did they shoot in a part of England that stood in for Provence.

Keala and NancyKeala was asked about what made her want to film this show, and also about how it felt when her version of “The Greatest Showman” was suddently everywhere. Keala replied, as you might expect, that it “was massive.” She’s never known another feeling like that, so it was “very humbling, and I’m extremely grateful for it.” Her second answer was more surprising. Although she’s American, her father is from England. She moved to England to learn more about her heritage. This led to her getting this job.

Nancy told us that they were in France for just the last three weeks of filming. They filmed in an area of England that she called “fake France” for 8 or 9 weeks, which she thought looked “beautiful.” They took over “an old school near Reading.” Their crew built great sets, which include Antoine’s office, crime scenes, the apartment, etc. She praised their art department for their fine job. Then they went to France. She mentiond that they had lots of sunshine throughout the shooting.

Keala was asked how she felt about leaving Englang to film in France. Keala loved filming in Provence, which was new to her. She could help be excited about how beautiful it was.

Roger Allam arrived late, apologizing. He was having Wi-fi problems.

Another reporter asked Keala about her British accent. She told him that her father is from England and her mother is from New Zealand. That same reporter asked her about whether she planned to spend the rest of her career in Europe or not. She’s not sure because she came here for personal reasons; not for work. She had just intended to “bring my dog and bake some bread.” Then she got this part through pure luck. She was familiar with Nancy and Roger because she’s “always been obsessed with British theatre and television and film.” Since her father was British, she wanted to learn more about her heritage. She “can’t wait” to see what happens next.

The next journalist asked Roger to compare his previous role as Thursday on “Endeavor” to his role now as Antoine. Roger says he wanted to play this role because it’s “such a contrast” to playing Antoine. He’s been mostly a theater actor and enjoyed playing many different roles. Every time he goes for a new role, to tries to do one that’s the exact opposite of his previous character, claiming that he’s doing it “neurotically. While he acknowledged that is a similar role in that both are trying to solve mysteries, but Antoine is a “very, very different kind of character.” That’s what he wanted. He also loved “being in Aix-en-Provence for some of the time which is a lovely place.”

Roger and Nancy were asked to talk about their characters’ jobs, especially Antoine’s role as an investigating judge. He also asked Keala if they might have karaoke night on the show (since she and Roger are singers). The first question was actually addressed quite well in the show, but perhaps this reporter didn’t watch it. Roger explained that in the French judicial system, the judge “collects all the evidence to present the case to court,” working with the police. Nancy pointed out that they did explain that in one of the scenes. She explained that she’s “a professor of criminal psychology,” but she has a “morbid interest in the detail” of her partner’s cases, so she enjoys discussing them with her. She joins the police as an advisor by the end of the first episode.

Keala asked if his karaoke question was serious, so he corrected that he just wanted her to tell us about her relationship with Antoine. She said that her character, Hélène” is friends with Antoine. They went to school together, although in different years. There was laughter when she said that he “just a little bit older.” Although they’ve been friends a long time, and they enjoy joking around, she has to be careful not to overstep because he’s more informed that she is. They all work together to solve the cases. She praised the stories and the “gorgeous settings in the south of France.” She emphasized that they had “really good time” and “laughed a lot.” She did say that most of their cast and crew are singers, so they sang a lot off-camera.”

The next reporter was wise enough to ask about Roger’s singing background, since he was the first to play Javert in the first stage production of “Les Misérables” in London (in 1985). He asked Rogert and Keala about being singers and singing on the set. Keala said that she was nervous about going to the set because Roger and Nancy are “icons.” When the camera would go off, she would start singing because that’s what she normally does. Then Roger “started humming and singing,” which led to them discussing music, and how he had done the first “Les Miz.” She relayed that, according to Roger, “he’s the reason why there’s a confrontation song in the actual show.” She had done the Broadway revival, so they chatted about the show and swapped notes. She noted that, “it was really lovely. And then the rest is history.”

Roger was then asked to tell us about he influenced the creation of that song in “Les Miz.” Roger replied modestly that he just thought the scene needed some “beefing up a bit,” so he made a suggestion, and they incorporated it.

The actors were asked about solving murders in the Provence area. Roger replied that the books are all set in Aix-en-Provence
, so that’s where their stories happen. Nancy added that the writer is based on France. Their screenwriter, Shelagh Stephenson< wanted to make sure that the characters acted very French and not British, “even though there were British actors playing the part.” She put certain “idiosyncrasies” into the writing that are very distinct.

The reporter wanted to know “what French attitude permeates the show.” Keala replied that it’s southern France, so it’s different from “up north.” Nancy said, “Wine helps. Wine helps solve crimes, a glass of wine… and a really good meal!” This made everyone laugh. She added that good chatting about them solving the crime happens while they’re cooking up the food.
Roger thought that his role as judge was very French – being a powerful “representative of the state” and “trying to achieve justice.” He felt this was a uniquely French thing that was different from British scripts.

Roger was asked why he often plays detectives. She asked, “Why do people see in you this solid, honest status?” He joked that it’s because of his “immense inner integrity.” Everyone laughed at his joke. He mused that both of these characters are very different, even though they’re “both men of integrity.” He pointed out that he’s played many slimy villains and that it’s just fun to act as disparate people and walk in different shoes. The journalist asked how Roger is different from Antoine. Nancy pointed out that Antoine has no friends. Roger said thoughtfully that he’s very British, so he tries to be French in the show. Nancy added that the characters all “have a really complex history…that have all been damaged in some way,” but they don’t drag their baggage around for everyone to see. Those few times when you see a little bit of the history, which “informs his empathy and his ability to see both sides of the problem that ultimately caused the death of that character.” Keala and Nancy tried to expound more about the writing and about Roger’s character. Roger said, “What they said,” and everyone laughed.

MORE INFO:

"Murder In Provence" on Britbox info

Bios for Roger Allam and Nancy Carroll of "Murder in Provence" on Britbox

Bio for Keala Settle of "Murder in Provence" on Britbox

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

Roger Allam and Nancy Carroll of "Murder in Provence" on Britbox

Interview with Lorna Watson, Jerry Iwu, Max Brown and Will Trotter

TV Interview!

Lorna Watson, Jerry Iwu, Max Brown and Will Trotter of "Sister Boniface Mysteries" on BritBox

Interview with stars Lorna Watson, Jerry Iwu, Max Brown and producer Will Trotter of “Sister Boniface Myseries” on Britbox by Suzanne 2/9/22

BritBox logoThe Britbox Winter TCA panel started with the “Sister Boniface Mysteries,” which had premiered February 8, the day before, in the U.S. (in the UK, it premieres March 11 on the UKTV Drama channel). It’s a fun, quirky show, despite being a murder mystery. We had all three major cast members in attendance, as well as the producer, Will Trotter.

Sister Boniface (played by “The IT Crowd”‘s Lorna Watson) is an unusual nun who drives a Vespa around the small town of “Great Slaughter” and helps the local police solve murders. In the spirit of shows like “Murder, She Wrote” and “Grantchester,” this small town happens to have many murders. Although the series takes place in the 1960’s, Sister B. has advanced knowledge of forensics and a PhD in chemistry. The policemen, DI Sam Gillespie (played by Max Brown, whom you may recognize from “Beauty and the Beast” as well as many other shows) and DS Felix Livingstone (played by Jerry Iwu, “Sex Education”), are grateful to have the good sister’s help (as unusual as it is). The show is smartly written and is not only a good mystery series but explores issues that are still relevant today, such as sexism, racism, class division and more. However, the show is not at all preachy or heavy-handed.

Although Sister Boniface is very intelligent, Watson believes that she is quite innocent and has a “childlike element” as well as often being “silly.” Watson admits that she, too, can sometimes be “surprisingly naïve.” She has never played such a smart character before, so it was a “real joy” to put on the habit again. Getting into character was easy because the nun’s habit helped so much. She dubbed it a “quite transformative costume.” She also shared that the costume is quite freeing because she doesn’t have to spend much time in makeup. Before shooting, she spoke with the other characters playing nuns about where they would place their hands and so forth.

At Trotter’s urging, Watson told us an amusing story. When the director of the first episode, Paul Gibson, saw her, he acted like he didn’t know her because she was dressed as herself, not as Sister Boniface. He had no idea how she really looked out of the nun’s habit. He later came by and apologized. Lorna is hopeful that others will be the same way, so that she will be able to keep her anonymity if she runs into fans.

Watson told us that she had only ridden a Vespa once before, while on vacation. It took her quite a while to get used to driving it on the show to make it look natural. She also did a wheelie, but not on purpose. Brown joked with her about running the Vespa into his police car and how huge the Vespa’s sidecar is. Iwu joked that he “never felt terrified” while riding in the sidecar with her.

Iwu’s character Felix arrives in town in the first episode, expecting to be working in London, much to his disappointment. Eventually, the mistake is corrected, and he heads towards London, but of course, predictably, he ends up staying (I don’t think that’s really a spoiler). Not much else in the show is predictable, I’m glad to say. My only other observation about Felix is that he certainly wears a lot of suits for someone who came from a tropical country like Bermuda! Every TV show seems to have someone like Felix that arrives new into the situation so that he (and we) can be told what’s going on. Iwu told us that Felix observes about the town, “this is insane. Why is everyone killing themselves or killing each other?”

Brown noted that they all had great chemistry. The series started filming with episode 4, but they all “fell into our characters and our relationships” immediately. Watson agreed that they did “form a bond very quickly”. Brown observed that having all of these characters around in nun’s habits made them all want to behave better on set, but Watson and the other nuns felt that it was a very relaxed set. Brown and Iwu joked that a group of nuns is called a “gaggle.”

The cast was asked which mysteries they liked to read or watch.  Brown told us that his favorite mysteries to read are the classic Sherlock Holmes stories, but he’s also looking forward to the upcoming Hugh Laurie series, “Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?” (which comes out this spring on Britbox). Iwu grew up with “Murder, She Wrote.” Watson grew up with “Columbo” and also enjoys the Miss Marple movies. She joked that now she can solve the mysteries with her “new forensic skills.”

Trotter observed that the combination of Watson’s “fabulous face,” which he described as “owl-like,” combined with the habit and the glasses, gave them a lot of character to work with. He said, somewhat facetiously, “the blinking of the eyes every now and again are just like little messages to the directors: cut there, cut there, closer there.” Her pushing her glasses up on her nose became part of the quirkiness of the character. He also spoke a little bit about why we love mysteries so much, particularly this type, which he called “cozy crime.”

Trotter assured us that the Catholic Church has been fully supportive of “Father Brown” and most likely will for this show, too, because it doesn’t put them in a bad light, and the nuns are three dimensional characters (not caricatures). Also, the show is very light and fun. It doesn’t have blood and gore or other dark things.

The convent in the series is shot at a school, “Princethorpe College,” which used to be a convent, so it looks authentic. It has a chapel and stained-glass windows. Trotter’s children went there because he lives nearby. The rest of the show is mostly “shot in the Cotswolds” which is also where “Father Brown” is shot. He praised the area, which is “fantastic” with many large churches, homes and “beautiful rolling countryside.” He called the area “timeless,” which makes it great for shooting this show, set 50 years ago. He explained that “all the stone is the same and the architecture is just beautiful.” It was made “in the 16th century and so on.” Watson was “super-excited” to be there and to see where Sister Boniface sleeps each night, and to see her crime lab/winery. Iwu praised the locations they use as “beautiful” but observed that the convent in particular has a calming effect.

At the very end of our interview, Trotter revealed that the series has been renewed for season two (or as the Brits call it, “Series 2”). Everyone was happy and excited to hear it. Don’t miss this wonderful series, especially if you love mysteries.

MORE INFO:

Photos from "Sister Boniface Mysteries" on Britbox

From the makers of Father Brown and Shakespeare & Hathaway – Private Investigators comes this light-hearted murder mystery series starring a Vespa driving, crime solving Catholic nun: Sister Boniface. It’s the 1960s and police forensics are rudimentary. Luckily the residents of Great Slaughter, nestled deep in the British countryside, have a secret weapon. Sister Boniface. This nun might be predisposed to forgive – but she’s also one hell of an amateur detective. If there’s evidence to be found, Boniface will find it, with a little help from dashing maverick DI Sam Gillespie and buttoned-up Bermudan DS Felix Livingstone, who’s horrified to be stuck in the eccentric world of Great Slaughter.

poster for "Sister Boniface Mysteries"
Sister Boniface Mysteries
Picture Shows: L-R – Ruth Penny (MIRANDA RAISON), DS Felix Livingstone (JERRY IWU), Sister Boniface (LORNA WATSON), DI Sam Gillespie (MAX BROWN), WPC Peggy Button (AMI METCALF)

Lorna Watson Bio
Lorna Watson is an actress and writer, known for The IT Crowd, The Wrong Door and Horrible Histories.
She has a strong background in comedy as the co-creator of the sketch comedy show, Watson & Oliver.
Most recently, Lorna reprised her role as Sister Boniface from the popular Father Brown series. She stars
in the upcoming BritBox Original spinoff series, Sister Boniface Mysteries.

Jerry Iwu Bio

Jerry can currently be seen as the guest lead Oba in the latest series of SEX EDUCATION for
Netflix.

Following this, he will be seen as the series regular role of DS Felix Livingstone in The Sister
Boniface Mysteries for Britbox/BBC Studios which will premiere in early 2022.

After graduating from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, he went straight into
filming Innocent (Series 2) for ITV opposite Katherine Kelly and Shaun Dooley. Alongside this, he
filmed a significant role in Intruder for Channel 5 and ITV Global.

Prior to this, he played the role of Neville in the IFTA-nominated Conor McDermottroe’s
feature Halal Daddy opposite Sarah Bolger and Colm Meaney.

Whilst at Central, he played the leading role in Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal directed by
Suzanne Gorman.

His other credits include Hastings in Richard The III, Stanley in Street Car Named Desire, Orsino
in Twelfth Night and Tuzenbach in The Three Sisters.

Max Brown Bio
Max Brown is an English actor with an impressive career spanning across film and television. He
first appeared on screens in 2001 to play Danny Hartson in BBC’s Grange Hill. Since then, he
has appeared in several hit television shows including The Royals, Mistresses, Agent
Carter, Spooks (MI-5) and Foyles War. Some of Max’s most notable roles include Edward
Seymour in The Tudors for Showtime and Evan Marks in the CW’s Beauty and the Beast series.
He has also been seen in films including the Downton Abbeymovie for Carnival Film &
Television, 29/29 and Stone Village Films’ Turistas and Flutter for Sunrise Films. Most recently,
Max played DI Sam Gillespie in Sister Boniface Mysteries, a new BritBox Original serie
s.

Will Trotter Bio
After nearly 30 years with the BBC, in 2014 Will took up the role of Head of Midlands Drama.
From his office in the Drama Village, Birmingham, he is responsible for overseeing a team
of over 200 people and delivering over 130 hours of Television Drama every year.

Alongside the hugely successful Continuing Drama – Doctors, Will has consistently
developed and produced new returning series including Land Girls, Father Brown, WPC
56, The Coroner, and Shakespeare & Hathaway – Private Investigators and most
recently Sister Boniface Mysteries. In the past year he also developed and Exec Produced a
four-part serial of Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost for BYU.

Will specialises in pre-watershed crime that has an international appeal – Father Brown
currently sells to over 230 territories, Shakespeare and Hathaway was the most viewed
new TV series in its first year of the BBC Showcase event. Essentially though Will thrives on
making great drama and exploiting ideas commercially and as part of BBC Studios.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

Back to the Primetime Articles and Interviews Page

poster for "Sister Boniface Mysteries"