ITV’s latest drama focuses on an under-represented group on the British TV older women. Its writer and Creator explains why.
“There are no egos here,” laughs Kay Mellor, refers to the star-studded cast of her latest drama Girlfriends.
“They are actors, they all have respect for each other, and I think that shows. Very quickly, they are glued together, and I think we captured that on the screen.”
It is true, Zoe Wanamaker, Miranda Richardson, and Phyllis Logan, a very beautiful trio in the series, which begins on Wednesday evening.
Mellor says she is keen to present the drama of home-grown acting talent as a matter of principle.
“I didn’t want to someone come with an American accent putting on an English accent,” she says.
“For a second there, I thought, to do that, and then I thought, why should I do that when I have such great Actresses here?”
Logan, perhaps best known to many as Mrs Hughes in Downton Abbey, a somewhat different attitude to their co-stars.
“I had never heard of them,” she says (was just a joke, thank God).
“No, of course your Reputation will go in front of you, so I was a little bit scared about the idea of hooking up with them and try to get as good as you, but hopefully it worked out.”Listen to: Kay Mellor on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs
Mellor ‘ s a genre have dramas almost in itself, as was shown by the success of their others, such as friends, Band of Gold and The syndicate.
Girlfriends tells the story of Linda, whose husband is killed under mysterious circumstances at the beginning of the first episode.
Full of grief, supported by her two best friends – the lollipop lady Gail, played by Wanamaker, and the weird self-centered, Sue (Richardson), a features editor for a Bridal magazine.
“I wanted to be these three women in very different ways, and this was also true in the script. It would be boring, three women have all the same,” Mellor says.
Girlfriends sounds like a concise, attractive title for a TV show – but it was Mellor’s original name.
“I’m bandy the title. I thought of the women in a Certain age, it was called that for a while, but I thought it sounded so serious.
“And then I heard myself saying,” I go with my girlfriends tonight, and it was a light bulb moment. I thought that’s what it is.
“Camaraderie, endurance, and your friends, you see through things.”
Mellor says that they were lucky to so much success in television, as the industry is often both criticized for its lack of opportunities for older women, as well as behind the camera.
“This is not really about me, because I feel as if I have a voice. And, strangely enough, have get older I, the more I’ve been welcomed,” she says.
“But there was a time when I, many moons ago, when I had to really fight hard to get my voice through. But there are certain people on the way who have really trusted me and got my voice.
“But I know that in the industry, from the women I am talking about – my friends -that in fact, you feel invisible sometimes, and you feel like you don’t have a voice.”
She adds: “in Just 18 months or two years ago, I was at a conference about women in our industry, and pretty much every woman in this room had something to say, and most of it was about feeling invisible and say: ‘I always only get to play grandma’s. It is never about my life. I’m someone, the mother, the girlfriend, it’s never about me’.
“And I remember listening to and go, ‘I have to do something about it, I have to put that right.”
“Sometimes the glass ceiling is really far from our minds, even today.”
Girlfriends begins on ITV at 21:00 GMT on Wednesday, the 3. January.
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