Camilla Whitehill – Writer

Category: Press Pack Article

Where did the idea for Big Mood come from?

I never think there's enough written about the impact of friendships, particularly female friendships and how epic they could be in scale. I feel like they're treated as not as important as romantic relationships in the media and by us as a culture when they can really change your life in lots of different ways. I also think that women are often a lot funnier than men, the funniest moments of my life are probably with my female friends, it’s just a fertile comedy area. I think your 30s are probably where the more interesting things happen, that transition into your 30s also brings up a lot of challenges in friendships, because that's when people start making big life decisions and deciding where to steer their life to and you know, whether they want to have children or get married or move to the countryside or move abroad. I feel like that's the time when people feel pressure to make big changes and therefore that has like an impact on friendships.

Friendship is a core part of the show, why was that important to you?

This is far from the first show to treat friendship with that kind of reverence, there’s lots of brilliant shows that I've enjoyed that do the same, but I suppose I just find it more interesting than romantic relationships in terms of material for a comedy series. Change and transition is also a big theme. Maggie turns 30, which is a big transition. There's like a pagan festival and paganism is about changing of the seasons and change and transition, so I think that's a big one. Coping mechanisms and masking is probably also one with all the lead characters in the way that they deal with problems and what is good or bad about the way they deal with problems and trying to cover them up, in terms of them as people and in terms of their relationships, including stuff like the rat hotel, it's all about trying to paper over a crack that really needs a whole rebuild.

Who did you have most fun writing and who was the most challenging?

Character is one of my favourite things about writing. I love thinking of different characters, I love exploring them, it's one of my favourite bits. I have quite a short attention span, so I love the fun of moving on to a new character and writing one for just an episode. I love them all equally, but I suppose when you're writing, sometimes it's fun to write characters that are just really silly, as a little treat. Klent and Anya are both fun to write because they're both weird and super themselves. It was important to me that there were characters that were really heightened comic characters because I think that's what makes the difference between a comedy and a comedy drama. Often when I'm watching things that are touted as comedy, I'm like, none of these characters are that fun, it's good to have really fun characters. I also really liked writing Dr. Burrows, which is Sally Phillips’ character, I also initially found that one of the hardest characters to write because I think when you're writing about something like psychiatry, there's science involved that can be quite a dry area or quite hard to make funny and to strike a balance of. It took me a while to find that character, I knew what I wanted her to be like, but I struggled at first. I also struggled with Jay (Eddie's brother) for a long time, on the surface he's really got his sh*t together. I couldn't figure out what his coping mechanism would be – what he does to deal with stress and trauma - I didn't want it to be something obvious, when I found the survivalist stuff I was like, that's perfect. It fit well with his character and as an alternative to reacting to events.


How important was casting to you? Did you already have anyone in mind when writing?

Casting is crucial for me, it's one of the most important things for sure. I went to drama school, I think I'm probably a bit of an acting snob in the sense that I am really sensitive to how I feel comedy performance should be and because I come from theatre, having an ensemble that worked well together, that were nice people to have around and are brilliant comic actors was very crucial.

Nicola didn't have a choice, in September it'll be our 16th year of friendship, we keep saying we're going to throw a sweet 16. I know how good of an actor Nicola is, but I also know how versatile she is, she really could do anything. She's played these two very specific characters that she does really well, but they are a certain thing, and I knew that she could do Maggie, which is a completely different thing. It was so fun to write knowing that she would be doing it. And Lydia, one of the reasons I loved the idea of her for the part was because I loved It’s A Sin, I thought the way that her character related to the other characters as a friend was really believable. That was important in casting this and the chemistry with Maggie and Eddie. You need someone that's a really good actor which Lydia is, but also you want someone that's a great person that everyone is going to enjoy having around. I wrote the character of Anya for Amalia. I've known Amalia for about the same length of time as I've known Nicola. To me, she's just one of the funniest actors in the world, but she's relatively unknown in screen. I knew that she'd have to come and audition so that our director and the producers could see her, it was so fun watching them watch her audition, I knew that they would be obsessed with her. And after she left, everyone was just like, ‘Oh my God’, writing for someone like Amalia is so much fun, she’s also fearless she’ll do anything. It’s sort of a cheat code because most of the time I know how they’ll say a line.

How does it feel seeing your idea come to life from script to screen?

It’s mad. I come from fringe theatre; I don't even come from successful theatre - I was never that successful. I come from like fringe budget theatre. Before we started filming and I walked through production into the art department and this hall of stuff they'd made for the show - it was mind blowing. It really is mind blowing. It’s a balance of being so excited and grateful for it but you also have to put that to the side, so you don't get overexcited and miss the things you need to keep an eye on. Every day I was overjoyed to see something different when we were filming and when we were editing but I also had to stay focused and make sure that everything was coming to life in the way that I wanted it to. Luckily, everybody that worked on the show was amazing, so basically all the time it did.

What are you hoping people take away from watching the show?

I wish I was less shallow than this but honestly, I just want people to think it's funny and I want them to like the characters. Beyond that I have less of like a tie to what they take away from it because I think that’s the fun of any art - that people can take from it what they will.

Mental illness and bipolar aren’t the usual topics for a comedy – how did you find humour in the darker themes?

It's just how I naturally am it doesn't ever occur to me that something like that couldn't be funny – it’s a real family trait. My dad is the same, we will make a joke about the darkest thing. And I think that there's perhaps a misconception that by using humour to explore something, you're taking the topic less seriously. It's so not the case. It's just that that's being a person and that's being human. I was a huge Buffy fan. I always thought and still think it has the most interesting tone to it. It's treated as a drama, but it has a comic tone to the dialogue even when something serious is happening or however serious you can get with vampires… I always have just had a really dark sense of humour and I suppose I just think that there's like nothing that can’t be funny.