“It was terrifying,” Olivia Colman says of her National Theatre debut in 2009’s England People Very Nice. “It was the first time I’d done a play for nine years. I probably should have started at a pub theatre, because it was like starting again. And I wasn’t very good.”
It’s hard to tell if Colman is just being disingenuous in her appraisal of her own performance. Best known for comedy characters in TV programmes from Peep Show to Beautiful People, in person she is warm and self-effacing but one gets the feeling that she is not particularly comfortable singing her own praises.
Nor does she particularly care for public attention when not working, preferring instead to be “what I am at home – just a mummy and a wife, and pootle around with not much hassle. I think that if you’re the lead, then you don’t get as much privacy and I really do crave that. Ideally, I’d love for my work not to be seen – which sounds very weird,” she adds with a smile.
In her new role in BBC2 comedy Rev, she plays Alex, the wife of a country vicar who has just taken over a parish in inner city London, playing opposite Tom Hollander, who created the series with writer James Wood.
My quote, taken from a much longer conversation, rounded off the article:
Scott Matthewman, assistant editor of the trade paper The Stage, who writes its TV blog, explained the sudden vogue: “A lot of these are the dramas that people commissioning at the moment grew up with, so it appeals to them. Doctor Who transformed from being the butt of so many jokes to become the BBC’s highest-rated drama, so they are trying to match that. Also, with the severe financial pressure broadcasters are under, they are going for productions that will generate the ratings.
“But you wonder if all this means better, newer ideas out there won’t be produced – there’s only so much drama that can be commissioned at any one time.”
There was a lot more I said — stuff about how it’s important to have a strong creative vision (Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica) or things could go seriously wrong (Minder, for example). None of that made it in to the piece, but I would have my opportunity to say it…
It’s been a busy week over at TV Today, where we’ve been running a series of features around Torchwood: Children of Earth, which begins a five-episode run on Monday and continues throughout the week. The stripped scheduling is a tactic BBC1 has been using in increasing amounts, to create a buzz, or “event television”.