Interview with Emer Kenny - Co-writer and plays Natasha Fantoni

Category: Press Pack Article

Congratulations on the birth of your son! Did you decide to have a baby when you read that Tash was pregnant?

Yeah, me and Allan (Mustafa, playing Albert) really committed to our roles and have had a baby together… No, I was writing on the show this season, so I knew the whole time we were plotting it in the writer’s room that I was pregnant, but I was so nervous to tell them. I called them up one by one, which they all found really weird, because I'd never called them like that before. I asked if we could write it in and they were really excited. James (De Frond, director) was saying it could be really iconic, because you rarely get a woman filming while being pregnant, especially a lead character who's quite strong and interesting. I felt so lucky to able to do that.


It adds extra layers to Tash, doesn’t it?

Yeah, the stakes are so high, because if she’s in a dangerous situation then it feels really dramatic. There are moments later in the series where she's pointing a gun at someone, and that's even more badass when you've got this big bump. It did add something to her journey. I remember reading scenes with Tash as not pregnant and she comes across as quite unlikable and ruthless. When you realise she’s got this new life she needs to protect, you understand why she's quite cold-hearted and brutal in her decision-making.


Was filming a very different experience this time?

Yeah, I drank and partied a lot during the first series! But this time, not so much. The boys are the boys, so it was still extremely funny and chaotic and raucous. I just didn't get to surf on my days off.


Had you been to Gran Canaria?

Never, although all my childhood holidays were in Marbella. I absolutely loved Gran Canaria, all these different landscapes, the great food. It was an amazing discovery and I'd love to go back.


Is there a different tone this year?

Going from the early ’80s East End, where everything's a little bit grubby and grimy, to 1986 Costa del Crime, all the colours have been ramped up, the music's been ramped up, the clothes are more glamorous. We've all got more money, so Tash in particular gets to live her dream and look a little bit more like Joan Collins with colourful patterns, gold jewellery, power shoulders and a little bit of leopard print. It's classy, but still a bit blinged out. Setting it out there exacerbates that fish-out-of-water feeling, but now they're even more out of their depth because the criminals are worse and the corruption is more far-reaching. Even Tash can't handle it, and she’s very smart.


Have they integrated pretty well on the Costa?

They think they have: Tash thinks she can speak really good Spanish and over-pronounces everything. But they are quite settled, they've got the dream hotel, Albert's cooking in a nice restaurant. Even so, I think both of them are also really lonely. Albert doesn't have any mates and Tash doesn't have anyone she can trust, because Candice (Natalie Klamar) really betrayed her. They’re vulnerable because they don't have anyone that they can trust or talk to, although Sid’s (Steve Stamp) out there, and Tash would probably do more for him than she would for Albert.


Do they think they've got away with it?

Tash hopes they have, but there’s a way to go. If she can build this waterpark – which is such a funny dream – she thinks that will solidify her position, she can launder money through it and she'll be fine. Albert’s a little bit downtrodden and doesn't have his friends out there. Tash has taken a lot of power from him, so he’s a ticking time bomb where Tash is going to be left with the pieces.


Would you blow your millions on a water park?

I like a water park, although I wouldn’t spend a massive amount of gold on one. I can see why Tash would, though – it’s a good way to wash dirty money and, because it’s a comedy, she has to have a dream that is slightly ridiculous.


How would you describe the state of her marriage to Albert?

Loads of the make-up girls would ask, who's the father of the baby? They wouldn’t believe it was Albert! I always had this backstory in my head that they got together when they were 13 in the playground and they’ve never not been together. The more that Albert disobeys Tash, the sexier she finds him – she really wants him to stand up and be the big man and get involved with the big criminals, but she also keeps emasculating him because he messes everything up. It’s such a funny dynamic to play.


Has she learned from her experiences in the first series?

She's learned from the fact that the boys did the crime without her. She was the mastermind but she wasn't involved, so she’s realised that she has to be in control or things go wrong. If they listened to her, they’d probably be okay. So she has learned something, but maybe not the lesson you'd want her to learn. She's getting deeper into a criminal underworld and becoming more ruthless, rather than keeping her head down.


The British heist never loses appeal, does it?

No, heists are really satisfying to watch because it’s almost a victimless crime – you're always robbing an institution or a bank or a casino. And a heist requires some cunning, so it's satisfying to watch sort of a group of ne’er-do-wells get away with something, even though our idiots are really not cunning. They’re sweet and likeable.


What was the most challenging aspect of making this series?

Having more dramatic scenes. The boys are chaos, so the harder you try to act well, the funnier they find it. If I'm trying to cry in front of Allan, it’s a red rag to a bull. There’s a scene where Tash is crawling through the desert, covered in blood and crying, and she does this emotional speech to a dying man, which I loved because it felt really challenging. Also, when anything weird you've written makes it into the cut it is such a win, and so is making any of them corpse. Honestly, making this show is a total dream.


How was the writers room experience with everyone?

Amazing. I wrote the whole of Karen Pirie by myself, so to be cracking jokes and thinking of the stupidest things with them over Zoom is such a joy. I love getting inside their characters and giving them stuff to say. Mick gives a speech about his memoirs and it's one of the weirdest and silliest things I've ever written, but to see Tom Davis do that was so satisfying. I feel very grateful to be in the mix with them.

Could Tash shine in the 1990s?

Hopefully! The character has grown in this series so it would be nice to continue that. It's only going to get bigger and bolder now they're in the kind of trouble that they're in. I hope we get to tell the story right to the end.