Interview with Kate Robbins – Jean

Category: Press Pack Article

How would you describe Jean?

She’s a long-suffering wife. She’s been with her husband a long, long time, so she’s loyal, but she doesn’t really know her husband is up to all the time. She believes in marriage.  But there’s a seed of doubt in her somewhere. She can’t get upstairs to see what he’s up to. Jean has a slight disability with her leg and I have a ripped meniscus. It was quite apt really. I related to her struggling to get up the stairs. I don’t think I can tell the story of how she gets up the stairs, but my character does find out what he’s doing, and I think we are allowed to say he’s a bit of a peeping Tom.

You had form working with Hugh Dennis who plays your husband haven’t you?

I go back way with Hugh. He and Steve Coogan were the new boys on the block when we were doing Spitting Image all those years ago, doing all the silly voices. It’s a great departure for him to play this role because everyone knows him as the nice, jolly, funny, hilarious person on Outnumbered and all those panel shows where he’s bloody brilliant with his ad libs.  But it was just great to get back with him, I haven’t seen him for ages. 

At the beginning your character is housebound – do you only do two-hander scenes with Hugh?

Most of my scenes are with Hugh but there’s Janine Duvitski, who most people know from Benidorm and Abigail’s Party, who plays the nosey neighbour and there’s a very emotional scene with Jess de Gouw, who plays Becka, when we realise what’s been going on and I go over to see her. It’s intense stuff, it really is. I draw on some really dark areas.

So how did this come about?

I have a good agent who believed in me, and he said how I could do some serious stuff.  The thing about doing impressions is you get to an age where it doesn’t seem very graceful anymore.  It was great fun in my 20s and 30s taking the mickey out of politicians. Now at my age I just get annoyed with politicians and can’t really be bothered doing an impression of them.  Drama is more fulfilling, let’s put it that way.

Is the process of getting into the head of someone like her very different from doing an impression? 

I know what you mean, the voice and everything. I think when you create a new character that’s never been seen you talk to the director about what accent you’re going to have, because it’s set in Leeds, so I’ve given her a soft West Yorkshire accent. Then in my mind I just think about the person and create this character. Then the director either likes it or he doesn’t. Fortunately, he liked it.

What’s it like working with Dries?

Dries is quite young, and he knows what he wants. He just goes, “No, yes, do it again, love it, great”.  He really got the best out of me, I think. It’s nice to be playing something that I would watch because I’m quite fussy about my viewing.

He’s got a slightly satirical view of suburbia wrapped up in a psychological thriller, which isn’t typical is it?

It’s poking a bit of fun at people keeping up with the Jones’s, the twitching net curtains of people who live their lives competing with each other.  Who’s got the best bin store outside and who’s got the nicest car, who’s the new neighbour and how old are they? It is a slight satirical look at that but it’s also very dark. When she eventually does get up the stairs and sees what’s going on up the top of the house, it’s not a horror but it’s ghastly. The show has got everything – it’s sexy, it’s fun, it’s glossy and it deals with lots of social morals.