Ground-breaking comedy There She Goes
David Tennant and Jessica Hynes on the joys of playing the parents of a severely learning disabled child in a groundbreaking new series…
There She Goes Tuesday / BBC4 / 10Pm
You may remember Shaun Pye for his performance as Ricky Gervais’ nemesis Greg in Extras. Now he has written a very different comedy for BBC4, based on his own experiences of being Dad to a learning disabled daughter, who was born in 2006 with a chromosomal disorder that doctors are still trying to diagnose.
‘People have asked if comedy is the right forum for this, but there have been lots of sitcoms about children, like Outnumbered, that have drawn on the writers’ experiences of their own kids. Why should my daughter be excluded from that?’ says Shaun.
‘She’s amazing, funny, irritating and lovely in her own unique way – why should we wrap her up in cotton wool? Likewise, the language isn’t always politically correct, because when we had her, I didn’t know the right terms to use.’ There She Goes sees David Tennant play Shaun, while Jessica Hynes is his wife. The five-part series tells an honest, personal story of a family coming to terms with having a child, Rosie, who requires so much more attention, love and patience than they were expecting.
Here, David, 47, and Jessica, 45, tell TV Times more…
What made you want to be a part of this series?
David: I was so moved by it when I first read it; it was unlike anything I’d ever seen. It seemed so honest and candid. I knew Shaun a bit but I had no idea that this was his life. It’s a story that needs to be told. Jessica: Parenthood changes you and, although this story is about a very specific experience, some of the emotions were just so relatable. As parents we all feel like we’re failing and we look at other people thinking, ‘Oh, they’re so happy and brilliant,’ but actually most people find it difficult. There’s a conspiracy of silence but there is another side to it, and this series goes there.
After a lot of consideration, it was decided it would be unfair to ask a learning disabled actor to play Rosie. What was it like working with young star Miley Locke? David: She’s extraordinary, maybe it’s because she’s young and so she lacks a certain self-consciousness that an older actor might have.
She could turn on a dime – she talked a lot about her puppy right up to when they called, ‘Action!’ and then suddenly she disappeared into the character of Rosie – it was a real masterclass! We were very lucky to find her.
It’s a very emotional subject but the series is a comedy – how crucial was it for this story to be told with humour?
Jessica: I think it’s important to tackle absolutely everything with humour, there’s nothing that doesn’t benefit from it.
David: We never felt that we were making a BBC comedy particularly – there was never a pressure to have a laugh every three minutes. This is Shaun and his family’s real life, we’re not trying to give an objective perspective of life with
disability – no scenes in the show are made up – so we just tried to tell the story as it is.
What do you hope viewers will feel when they watch the show? David: It allows you to think about how you would be in that situation, to ask questions about yourself as a parent and see the world as others see it. Good TV helps you to have a different perspective on life, and this is definitely one we haven’t seen before on television.
Jessica: It was a real privilege being part of it and, maybe I’m a bit of a fraud for feeling this way, but, if I see someone out with a learning disabled child now I feel like they are my people. And I think if you got into the show as a viewer and you loved it, it might make you feel like that too.
There She Goes Is PREVIEWED on pages 58-59
Good TV helps you to have a different perspective on life, and this is one we haven’t seen before… David Tennant
Writer: Extras star Shaun Pye drew on his own experiences