Meet the cast of The Paradise

Susanna Lazarus talks to Joanna Vanderham, Emun Elliott and Elaine Cassidy about their characters' love triangle


Katherine Glendenning played by Elaine Cassidy – the pampered only child of local landowner Lord Glendenning – whose unrequited love for The Paradise owner John Moray often ends in frustration.


Describe your character Katherine in three words…

Spoilt, manipulative and dangerous.

So she’s the villain in the story?

Not exactly. She’s got everything – she’s complex, she’s manipulative, she’s strong – but then she does have a softer side, as everyone does. It’s just how often you get to see it.

But she’s lusting after dashing businessman John Moray?

Yes – their relationship is animalistic, very lustful and dysfunctional. They’re very passionate, but at the same time should never be together.

Their union sounds like bad news…

As a lady of a certain age, she should be married by now with kids but she said no. She’s a rebel and she’s spoilt. If you tell her to behave one way then she’ll do the exact opposite if that’s what she wants. She shouldn’t be fraternising with Moray – he’s not in the same class as her. But the ambition he has is similar within her, and the cat and mouse game makes it even more appealing.

That’s right – he’s not really interested in her, is he? He’s after lowly shop girl Denise Lovett instead…

Denise is definitely more wholesome. But she’s feisty, too. I think Katherine, Denise and Moray are all very similar in that sense – they’re very ambitious, trying to break the mould. Instead of settling, they instinctively think, “no, I want something else”. It’s an odd love triangle as they’re all very like-minded.

Who are you rooting for?

Definitely Katherine, but I don’t know if people will warm to her. I love her – but that doesn’t mean I like her.

Like her or not, those dresses she gets to wear look rather delicious…

The costumes are gorgeous – she’s just dessert, dessert and more dessert. There’s no starter or main with her. And she dresses to impress. Whenever she goes to The Paradise it’s more power dressing – she puts her armour on, and then when she’s at home she’s a little bit softer. But you still have to wear the corset underneath so it’s never relaxing – not like Sunday afternoon vegging on the couch in your tracksuit bottoms! Sitting down is so uncomfortable with your organs squished into those tiny waists  – you just think, “God, just let the men rule the world – who cares!”

Denise Lovett played by Joanna Vanderham – the rural newcomer whose eye for business and wholesome good looks catch the eye of ladies man, John Moray.

Describe your character Denise in three words…

Ambitious, confident and intelligent.

She’s a bit of a country bumpkin – how does she end up at The Paradise?

She’s left behind a life she doesn’t want and a young farmer who asked her to marry him. She turns up looking for work with her uncle, Edmund – a city draper. He’s always said he will hand his business down to her but there’s no work for her when she arrives. He wants the best for her so he says, “go to The Paradise”, even though it’s his fierce competitor and right across the street.

So she jumps ship to her uncle’s rival?

Denise sees the “city look” and thinks “I want to be part of that”. She gets given this silk dress, the most glamorous thing she’s ever been given, and that’s just her shop girl uniform!

You mentioned she was ambitious…

She is changing things and she is different. Everyone tells her not to mess with the system but she does. She sees more to life – yes, she wants to fall in love, but as a woman she also believes she can achieve a lot. Moray likes that about her.

Oh yes, Mr Moray – he takes a shining to Denise, doesn’t he?

It’s unstoppable. They have this instant connection – it’s overwhelming. Their relationship begins with her admiring him as a businessman and Denise says at the start, “I don’t want to marry Moray, I want to be him.” She sees how successful he is and wants to emulate that, wants to be a part of it – but at the same time, he is gorgeous – it’s Emun Elliott!

But what about all that ambition? We can almost hear the collective feminist groan as she sacrifices her glittering career for a man…

She wants to do both. If anything she’s realised that you can do both – look at all the working mums today. It’s really hard but they’re managing it. Denise is very modern thinking in that way.

So how would you describe her relationship with Moray?

Oh, fabulous! It’s only gradually they realise what a connection they have and how easy it is between them. It’s this very uncomplicated, unmanipulative contrast to Katherine and Moray – neither he nor Denise want anything from each other, they just want to be together.

John Moray played by Emun Elliott – the self-made businessman who’s risen through the ranks following the death of his first wife, using his charming smile to leave the ladies trailing in his wake.

Describe your character John Moray in three words…

Off the rails.

So he’s not the hero of the story, then?

I think on paper he looks villainous – on the surface he’s this ruthless, greedy, hungry businessman. What’s interesting for me as an actor is to show the other side of the man, the softer, more vulnerable side. I’m trying to show the audience the reasons behind the drastic, huge ambition. Men at that level of business and success have another side to them, whether that’s a darker or a more fragile one. With Moray you get glimpses of that when he’s alone or with his associate, Dudley, but the Moray on the shop floor is a very different version altogether.

He and his partner Dudley (played by Matthew McNulty) seem to clash in their approach to business at The Paradise…

They do clash a lot but it’s a necessary clash – Moray would go off the rails and take things too far but Dudley’s always there to rein him in. They came up the ranks together and started this business so in that sense they’re solid, but it constantly fluctuates. It goes between Moray going too far to him occasionally having to pull Dudley out of the shadows and force him to be bold. It’s a perfect match – opposites attract and they work well together.

So they team up to take down all the local businesses – sounds like they’ve taken a leaf out of Tesco’s book. Doesn’t Moray feel guilty?

No. Guilt isn’t the word, but he definitely has a conscience. He’s aware of what’s happening but he sees himself as a catalyst for the change rather than the man responsible. He’s aware that it’s going to happen anyway and he’s quite willing to be involved. The Paradise is almost like a character in itself that lives and breathes. Moray’s just an extension of that space – he embodies everything you should feel as you walk in those doors.

But what about poor old Edmund Lovett – Moray’s forced him out of business…

He’s not set out to finish him off or ruin his life. There’s a touch of sympathy there, just not enough to act upon it and hold back.

But he has no qualms about going after his niece, Denise. We heard he’s quite the womaniser…

Denise is passionate about what she does. She’s not just there to work and earn money – she has a genuine interest in what Moray’s trying to do, and understands it. He’s never come across that before in any of his employees so it puts them on the same wavelength. She’s talented and on top of that she’s a beautiful woman – Moray has a great appreciation of the female form…


The Paradise begins tonight at 9pm on BBC1