Things that are fun to watch aren’t always fun to make – what makes The Windsors different?
I think it's a fair indication of how much people love working on it that, even though everyone's very busy and we're never sure if it can happen, people drop things and make time. Three of us were doing a play in the evenings and Ellie (White, playing Beatrice) was doing other filming while we made the Coronation Special, so everything was complete chaos, but we make it a priority because it's just really fun. It’s big and arch and silly and theatrical. I remember auditioning years ago and being told: “you can go bigger with that.” You rarely get asked to do that in a TV meeting, so people get a lot out of that performance aspect.
How do you and Hugh Skinner muster that onscreen chemistry as Wills and Kate?
Hugh’s one of my best friends in real life. He’s just a joy to be around and he's got the perfect personality for making a TV show, like Morgana Robinson (playing Pippa) – very generous, and much more energised than I ever am!
Kate feels like the heroine of The Windsors. Is that how you see her?
I think so. Much like in real life, perhaps, she is the character who is dependable, well-meaning and kind – she’s always there. It's fun to play – when you sometimes start thinking that everybody else is much funnier than you, you appreciate your role within that family dynamic. Not everyone can be bonkers. One of my favourite shows is The Office: an American Workplace, and Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam, once said, “they told me: don't be afraid to be boring.” As an actor, you want your character to be the most exciting, but I've learned over this series that there's a huge amount of pride in Kate for being the sensible person, guiding people and listening.
What are Wills and Kate up to for the Coronation Special?
The big question is: will the coronation be big and sparkly and expensive, or will it be budget? You’ll have to see which way it goes… We went from these very plush, grand surroundings to the basement of Brocket Hall, which was set up to be the bar of a Holiday Inn. That gives you some indication of how things might develop. It’s another existential crisis for Wills and Kate, all about being true to the family and making the right decision for them.
Is Kate starting to think about what she might want for William’s coronation?
Exactly. There are some lovely flashes of ego in this Special, which I really enjoy because with great power comes great responsibility! It's hard to hang on to your roots and she does talk about the Roma background we’ve given her in the series, but we do see her ego escaping while she's trying to be very contained and humble.
Apparently she has a new best friend this series…
Yes, the enigmatic Sophie Wessex (Anna Morris)! I feel like she’s quite enigmatic in real life as well, because she doesn’t say a huge amount. In the Special, she's got this amazing scrunchie which needs more attention, a perfect royal velvet scrunchie in her hair. There’s a lovely dynamic for Kate to want to have this new friend and make that friendship work, despite how grand she is with Sophie. It’s a blossoming friendship, but it may get sabotaged!
How is the relationship between Wills and Kate and Harry and Meghan?
It's complicated. It becomes more difficult to parody something that's quite dramatic in real life. The more dramatic that situation becomes, the more confusing for a writer to know how much is too much, but Bert (Tyler-Moore) has managed that very well,
Is your Kate entirely her own character now, or do you ever refer to the real thing?
I do enjoy looking at her outfits. Morgana is and was an impressionist and she can do Kate very well. I can't do an impression, so from the outset, it was always about taking a personality trait and running with that. When we started this Special, we all had to check in with each other that we were doing the right voice. People were going: “is this what he or she normally sounds like?” It's like a muscle memory so it comes back to you. Amit Shah (playing Rishi Sunak) called me and said, “what do I need to do?” And I said: watch a video of him, take one characteristic or aspect from that and use it as your starting point, then go anywhere you like with it.
What would say if you ever met Kate?
I don't think I could meet her, because I'd be too embarrassed about The Windsors. I couldn't look her in the eye!
What was your favourite moment from filming?
Corpsing is such fun, but then it just won't go away and it turns into sort of fear and panic… Hanging out with Hugh and Morgana is so great. There was a particular moment where Hugh was playing the piano with his hands and Morgana was playing with her bottom – it was one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life.
Will you be watching the real coronation?
When Will and Kate got married, I went away with my friend from drama school because we wanted to get away from the fuss. But I don't feel that way for this – embrace the fuss and the bunting!
What’s next for you?
I've directed a couple of short films so I’m developing something for TV. Directing and writing is what I'd like to continue doing.
Is The Windsors helpful for that?
Yes, it's really interesting, actually. The Windsors is made in quite a short amount of time, so I don't feel uncomfortable coming to set as a director because I'm comfortable in that world. I have experience in front of the camera, I like working with actors and I know everyone’s role. But I embrace the collaborative side of directing, so it helps hugely to see it and take in everything that's happening.