Explain a bit about your new series, Home.
A couple drive home after a holiday in France to find a refugee in their boot. I’ve not met someone yet who after hearing that sentence isn’t intrigued to see the show. Especially when I tell them it is a comedy. And on Channel 4.
You play Katy – what’s her story?
Katy is a self-reliant affable type of person. She would say her greatest achievement is her gorgeous son John, played perfectly by soon to be 'BAFTA NTA Rising Superstar of Tomorrow’ Oaklee Pendergast! She’s Head of Year at a State School, a position she is proud of but not without its challenges. Her failed relationship with John’s Father, Elliott, was a fraught one. What she needs now is someone she can depend on when life is tough (she’s hoping that someone is Peter) and something to happen in her life where she could make a significant and positive difference for a change, instead of feeling like a failure. Enter Sami.
Much of the comedy comes from Katy’s dysfunctional relationship with Peter. Why do you think they are together?
Those eyes, that voice, that vulnerability, Peter ticks a lot of boxes for Katy. Opposites attract. However, Sami’s arrival shines a spotlight on the differences between them. It’s the end of the Honeymoon period that’s for sure.
What do you think is behind her decision to take Sami into her home?
When Katy meets the wonderful Sami, and they speak properly for the first time, she is moved to help him contact his family. She wants to do all she can. Helping makes Katy feel good. Plus the more Peter tells her what she should do in her own home, the more she’ll do the opposite.
What was the show like to work on? Did you enjoy the process?
From the outset there was an undeniable chemistry between Youssef, Rufus, Oaklee, and I and we were instantly friends for life. Rufus and I met on Hunderby years before and much like tour de force Julia Davies, Rufus manages to move seamlessly between his three roles of Writer, Producer, and the Catering. I’m joking he didn’t do the Catering. His third bow was evidently the Acting and Peter is perfect as a result. I’ll be forever grateful that I got to be his Katy. Powerhouse Youssef will make you fall in love with Sami in an instant and I just feel lucky that I got to share screen time with him before Hollywood comes a calling with more leading roles. Speaking of stars, they’ll be coming for my boy Oaklee too let me tell you. We had the incomparable skills of David “Ham” Sant, Adam Tandy, Hassan Akkad, to help us, and together with a wealth of talents in front of and behind the camera, it was a joy to go to work every day. And as for me, well, I got to do something I didn’t know I could do. And I loved it. You’ll have to wait for episode 5 to find out what I’m talking about but let’s just say that the three years I was Goal Attack for the school Netball team suddenly came in handy. And when that episode has aired I’m adding ‘it’ to the special skills on my CV, above Flamenco.
It’s got a big heart, hasn’t it?
Definitely. I hope lots of people watch Home and feel the love too.
Do you like shows that combine comedy with a good dose of pathos?
I’ve seen first-hand how this show can make grown men and women cry when they least expect it. And then make them laugh out loud very soon after. In these challenging times we all appreciate two for the price of one.
The show is reasonably frank in terms of its attitudes. Did you have any misgivings about taking on a project that might be considered controversial?
The opposite. I’d have more misgivings over joining a show that was anodyne.
Thought and ultimately conversation provoking entertainment be it comedy or drama will always be something I gravitate to. With a healthy dollop of silly occasionally. In this case I just want people to see Home then form their own opinions from there. If they like it, I hope they quickly tell their mates, etc so that we get to make more.
Katy takes no prisoners, and isn’t afraid to say what she feels. How do you think she’d get on in a battle of wills with Della? (Rebekah’s Raised by Wolves character) Della and Katy in a battle of Wills?
Initially they may disagree about a few things like education (one’s a teacher, the other homeschools her children) but Katy would be impressed by Della’s DIY and survival skills, and Della would respect Katy’s house rules. They might share anecdotes about the best punches they’ve ever thrown, discuss politics, then unite together forever over their mutual aversion to “David Fucking Cameron”.