High price of true love

At­ten­tion, shop­pers: the new sea­son of UK depart­ment- store drama The Par­adise is now air­ing on ABC1. Guy Davis dis­cov­ers what lies ahead for se­ries star Joanna Van­der­ham.

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You may think any drama in­volv­ing a depart­ment store be­gins and ends with avoid­ing be­ing crushed by des­per­ate shop­pers as you try to snag a bar­gain in the Box­ing Day sales.

Ah, but that was be­fore the UK drama The Par­adise graced our screens.

The first sea­son fol­lowed the per­sonal and pro­fes­sional for­tunes of smart, am­bi­tious shop girl Denise Lovett ( Joanna Van­der­ham) as she took a job at the up­mar­ket 19th cen­tury em­po­rium of the ti­tle and won the heart of its wid­owed owner, John Mo­ray ( Emun El­liot).

That didn’t sit well with Kather­ine Glen­den­ning ( Elaine Cas­sidy), the daugh­ter of Mo­ray’s fi­nan­cial backer – she had de­signs on Mo­ray her­self

So when Mo­ray de­clared his love for Denise, it cost him The Par­adise.

And as the sec­ond sea­son of the show gets un­der way on ABC1, Kather­ine and her new hus­band Tom We­ston ( Ben Daniels) are run­ning the store. But she still longs for her lost love … and Denise and Mo­ray are still plot­ting to get The Par­adise back.

For Van­der­ham, th­ese new de­vel­op­ments proved thrilling, both as a star of the show and a fan of the sto­ry­lines.

She ad­mits it was frus­trat­ing hav­ing to wait to find out what was ahead for The Par­adise’s char­ac­ters in the show’s sec­ond sea­son.

“I wanted to know what hap­pens!” she laughed. “When I got the scripts I read them all straight away.”

Al­most as test­ing was the pas­sive role her char­ac­ter played in the first sea­son.

“The fact she was so con­tained was frus­trat­ing at times,” Van­der­ham said.

“I wanted to push her but she had to be the linch­pin. If the au­di­ence didn’t like Denise, they weren’t go­ing to watch the rest of the show. As an ac­tor, I was like, ‘ Give me more!’ And this sea­son they did.”

The on­go­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween Denise and Mo­ray will de­velop fur­ther, al­though Van­der­ham ad­mits it will not nec­es­sar­ily run smoothly.

“We don’t want to give them their grat­i­fi­ca­tion too soon,” she said. “It be­comes a very bor­ing story

Van­der­ham: “As the se­ries goes on, for what­ever mo­tives Tom We­ston might have, he starts to take ad­van­tage of Denise’s abil­i­ties, pro­fes­sion­al­ism and work ethic.”

if every­body’s just happy. As much as Denise is happy, she needs to have some­thing to want.”

That comes in the form of her de­sire to turn The Par­adise – and her­self – into a suc­cess, which leads to a com­pli­cated bond with Kather­ine’s new hus­band, Tom.

“As the se­ries goes on, for what­ever mo­tives Tom might have, he starts to take ad­van­tage of Denise’s abil­i­ties, pro­fes­sion­al­ism and work ethic,” Van­der­ham said.

“So that be­comes an in­ter­est­ing sto­ry­line. How does Mo­ray feel about that? She’s torn again be­tween the am­bi­tion and the de­sire to be with this man.

“There’s the whole is­sue of who owns The Par­adise and who would be up­set by [ Denise and Mo­ray] get­ting to­gether. The am­bi­tion they both have, they put that in front of their union. The fact they both need the store so much more is re­ally in­ter­est­ing.”

So the plot thick­ens, which begs the ques­tion: will there be a third sea­son of The Par­adise, which has proven pop­u­lar both in the UK and in­ter­na­tion­ally? Van­der­ham is keep­ing quiet on that front.

“I am say­ing noth­ing,” she smiled. “That’s a gi­ant ‘ no com­ment’.”

The Par­adise, ABC1, Satur­day, 7.30pm

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