It’s so mov­ing, so real and unlike any­thing I have read be­fore or seen be­fore...

David Ten­nant stars as the dad of a child with se­vere learn­ing dis­abil­ties in a ground­break­ing new se­ries. Here he talks about what at­tracted him to the role

Burton Mail - - Hot Seat -

WRITER Shaun Pye, who you may re­mem­ber as Ricky Ger­vais’ neme­sis Greg in Extras, has penned a com­edy-drama based on his own ex­pe­ri­ences as a par­ent to a daugh­ter with a rare chro­mosonal disor­der.

There She Goes fol­lows the story of nine-year-old Rosie and how her con­di­tion af­fects both her and the rest of the fam­ily.

David Ten­nant plays Si­mon and Jes­sica Hynes his wife Emily, with Mi­ley Locke as Rosie in the five-part se­ries. Here David talks about tack­ling such a sen­si­tive sub­ject.

What ap­pealed to you about There She Goes?

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 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 ex­pe­ri­ence. I have known him for years be­cause we have worked to­gether. 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 and has a clear dis­tinct, hon­est and funny voice – 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. 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 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’s more dif­fi­cult to do than it might seem, and yet it is what 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.

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.

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.

The show is a won­der­ful blend 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.

That has been re­ally im­por­tant to me; at no point are we try­ing to con­struct comic mo­ments. We have got to be ruth­lessly hon­est about how we play it. As soon as you start look­ing for funny mo­ments be­yond the fact of what might hap­pen in a sit­u­a­tion, you are lost be­cause you lose the truth of it.

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.

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.

■ There She Goes is on BBC4, Tues­day at 10pm.

David Ten­nant, left, as Si­mon, and be­low, with Edan Hay­hurst as Ben, Mi­ley Locke as Rosie and Jes­sica Hynes as Emily in There She Goes

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