The princess and the people
DIANA AND I | BBC2 9PM
This one-off drama explores the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales – but rather than retread old ground by focusing on the Royal Family, it examines how four ordinary people responded to the news.
One story involves Yasmin (Kiran Sonia Sawar), who finds escape from an unhappy marriage in the rolling news coverage – but when her television is repossessed, she decides to take her daughter on a pilgrimage to London.
“She’s quite an introverted character and quite lonely,” reveals Kiran. “Once she hears the news of Princess Diana’s death, it acts as a sort of catalyst and sparks something within her to go on a journey of self-discovery.”
Another strand of the story concerns a 19-year-old lad called Jack (Nico Mirallegro), whose mother dies the same night as Diana and he finds himself grieving for both of them. Estranged from his father (Neil Morrissey), he reaches out to his neighbour Russell (Kingsley Ben-adir) for help.
“He comes to Jack to help him find flowers for his mother’s funeral, because everyone has run out – Diana’s taken them all,” explains Kingsley. “I play a bit of an arty, hippy, weed-smoking sort of character, so they make their own flowers – they go on this journey to find paper and sticks and Sellotape, and make all these beautiful arrangements.”
Not every character is overcome by sadness, though – for florist Mary (Tamsin Greig), Diana’s death is an opportunity to raise much-needed funds for herself and her mother (Gemma Jones), who has Alzheimer’s, by selling lots of flowers in London before the funeral.
“They wanted a character who would be pleased about the news of a royal death,” shares Tamsin. “They’re not royalists, they’re disconnected from that royal story, but then there’s the eureka moment where you think, ‘We can make some money out of this, it can be useful’ – her plan doesn’t work, but a new treasure is revealed…”