Mrs Gemma Jones played by Sarah Alexander – the divorced yummy mummy harangued by her demanding children and caught between two men: the dashing single dad versus the 24-year-old heart throb.
Tell us about your character…
She is very busy. She’s a kind of cat chasing her tail, she’s got three children, two young twins of about ten, a grown up son and an ex-husband… and she spends most of her life running round after them as well as having a job.
So she’s having a pretty torrid time?
Well, having spent some years looking after the children and the ex-husband, she hasn’t had much affection coming her way. She hasn’t had much time to spend on herself, I think because she’s been looking after other people – she’s probably lost a little bit of her confidence and her identity which women and parents do when they’re consumed with bringing up children.
But now there’s these two men in her life?
Yes, and she doesn’t really know what to do with their affections. There’s Tom, who is the rather handsome, single dad from school, who is lovely and would take care of her and we all think that makes sense. He’s a single parent as well and that would be a very easy union.
There is this beautiful 24-year-old, who is her eldest son’s best friend. She certainly doesn’t ask for it, it just sort of comes her way. Through the series we see her struggling with what to do with it as she becomes more and more fond of him, and he is rather keen on her.
It must have been rather fun spending all day on set surrounded by lovely men?
Yes, there’s Neil Morrissey playing my ex-husband, there’s Nathaniel Parker playing the man I possibly go with, then there’s the very lovely Robert Sheehan who plays young Billy. So it was a heady mix of talent!
Sounds ideal! But is the series something audiences can relate to?
I think parents will relate to it – you see a lot of the stress and trials that you’re under as parents, what you have to juggle – job, work, family. But it is also really funny – we’re telling this story in a really humorous way. Also, it is a love story. It’s a romantic comedy and everybody loves a romantic comedy.
Jason Jones played by Neil Morrissey – Gemma’s ex-husband who’s currently shacked up with leggy Swedish girlfriend Inca but can’t quite let go of the family life they used to share.
So where does Jason slot into Gemma’s manic life?
I share children with her, but I am now with someone else – a much younger, beautiful Swedish girlfriend called Inca, who is an ice queen. So I’ll probably be marrying her, the kids aren’t sure about mummies and daddies and that sort of thing, and I haven’t quite let go of Mrs Jones yet…
So he’s still hung up on her?
I’m constantly walking into the house and disturbing her sense of calm. I’m another thorn in her side. I think there’s some sort of deep-rooted love in there, but not the kind of love that she’s seeking with these other two guys.
Sounds more tragic than funny…
There are huge amounts of laughs. I mean this is written by Fay Rusling and Oriane Messina who wrote for Green Wing, so there are quirky elements to it as well, and great comedy doesn’t work unless there’s an edge of pathos to it. The situations we’re dealing with are very real and very ‘now’. That’s what’s going to make it funny and interesting, and you’ll want to watch more.
Have you enjoyed working with Sarah?
She’s a masterclass in comedy. She’s brilliant to work with, but we really have to keep ourselves ‘zipped’ because it’s a mutual appreciation society and it’s hard not to laugh. We’ve even had the cameramen laughing and we had to do retakes because the camera has been wobbling. Every day there was highlight after highlight.
Tom Marshall played by Nathaniel Parker – the suave single dad and envy of the playground mummies who tries to impress Gemma with his martial arts and fluent Thai
Is Tom meant to be the knight in shining armour of Gemma’s story?
Tom as a character has many facets. He is one of those chaps that we all admire and like, but there is just something about him which is ever-so-slightly irritating. I think he’d make a very good choice for Gemma. At one point he’s described as a “toothbrush with three speeds” – dependable and strong. He may not be the most inspirational choice for her, but he likes her very much.
He’s a bit of a show off, isn’t he?
He can speak different languages and, dare-I-say, comes across as a bit of a knob, or a bit of a know-it-all. I do that actually! There are too many of us out there who are a bit too close to Tom.
Well, he’s certainly the envy of the school playground…
There have been some other ladies and mothers flitting around the school gates at the beginning who I think would love to have made a play for Tom, but he makes his own play and takes the ball into his own court.
And he takes Gemma on a rather sophisticated first date, doesn’t he?
The Thai restaurant is a wonderful scene – Sarah and I had a blast when Tom gets to speak Thai. That was very good fun. So many of the funny things are very natural – we do them all every day, they’re just that little bit heightened which is what makes you fall on the floor when you’re doing it. Sometimes we can’t finish a take because we’re laughing too much…
Billy played by Robert Sheehan – the 24-year-old dreamboat who makes a play for Mrs Jones, despite being best friends with her son, Alfie.
Why is Billy hitting on a woman twenty years his senior?
He’s been travelling with Alfie and needs somewhere to crash so he follows him home and ends up having this spontaneous romantic spark with Alfie’s mum. I think Billy is an all-round hopeless romantic. He lives his life for his heart more than his head, so I think he sticks around because of this connection he’s felt with Gemma. Billy isn’t troubled by the 20 odd year age gap. I’d say if anything it’s spurring him on; it’s an incentive.
But Gemma tries to fight her feelings?
She eventually has to admit to herself that there is something real between the two of them. Every time they meet there is chemistry and over the course of the series there are more and more manifestations of that, so there’s a development there.
But poor old Alfie – it can’t be much fun having your best mate hooking up with your mum…
Billy is trying to be as forthcoming as he possibly can and as honest, because if he wasn’t he would just be a slime ball that has followed his mate into his house and tried to have it off with his mum. He can’t keep this thing from Alfie anymore and he wants to tell Gemma, “let’s be honest about it, let’s tell people”. There’s an impending doom there which I’m sure they’ll get over because they’re chums.
Do you muck in with the slapstick comedy?
What’s interesting about my guy is he’s not always the overtly funny character – sometimes it’s the opposite side of the coin. That’s almost more difficult in a way, to be the one that’s grounded in the reality so the other characters can be more surreal.
There’s a funny scene involving myself, Sarah’s character Gemma, Neil’s character Jason and Nat’s character Tom. There was a lot of projectile vomit involved which was spurring on my gag reflex…
Me and Mrs Jones starts tonight at 9:30pm on BBC1