As part of Channel 4’s new Mating Season, a selection of the great and the good of British television have come together for new drama Dates – a nine-part series looking into the social minefield that is 21st century dating.
Sheridan Smith is just one of an illustrious list of actors to appear on the show, including Sherlock’s Andrew Scott, Neil Maskell, (Utopia), Merlin’s Katie McGrath, Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line), Fresh Meat’s Greg McHugh and Gemma Chan, Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones) and Will Mellor.
Masterminded by Skins creator Bryan Elsley, the drama follows various couples as they embark upon dates and is set to include confessions, lies, confidence crises and sexual confusion.
Intrigued? Good, because here’s Sheridan Smith talking all about filming the show with Andrew Scott and Neil Maskell before spilling the beans on the worst date she’s ever been on…
Hi Sheridan, what you can you tell us about your new drama Dates?
It’s nine episodes, following different couples in each episode. It’s basically what it says on the tin – Dates. It’s great fun – each one’s very different, and different characters come in and out. I’m in two of the episodes on two different dates.
Your character Jenny doesn’t exactly have it all together, does she?
No, she’s a bit complex! She has a big of an issue to deal with. She’s a really nice girl underneath it all, she just has this compulsion that she can’t seem to help. But in her everyday life she’s a schoolteacher and she’s good at her job. She goes on two very, very different dates. One’s quite dark and one’s quite amusing – actually, they’re both very funny in their own way.
You landed some pretty impressive co-stars in the form of Andrew Scott and Neil Maskell…
I’ve always wanted to work with Neil. I’ve had mates who have worked with him and I’ve seen him in loads of stuff and thought he was brilliant. So when I heard he was in it, I was thrilled. And he was so lovely – not like his character, put it that way! And then in my other episode, it was with Andrew Scott who’s a friend of mine who I’ve worked with before. We did Scapegoat together a year ago – we played husband and wife in that. There’s a lot of laughter in that episode and thank goodness because we literally could not stop laughing. He’s the funniest man to be on set with – I had tears streaming down my face numerous times. I was wiping away tears and wiping all my make up off!
Who was easier to pretend you were on a first date with? Neil who you’d just met or Andrew your good friend?
It was kind of perfect with Neil because I’d just met him and I was in awe of him so I had that nervous energy around him which worked really well. The nervousness of two people meeting for the first time was definitely there in that one. With Andrew, it’s a bit further down the line and she’s been on so many dates she’s started to give up, so she’s more relaxed – so that worked well that we knew each other and were automatically more relaxed.
So, tell us all about Sheridan Smith’s worst date of all time…
We’d gone out and he’d been drinking this red cocktail, which was already a little bit disturbing, and we left this bar and were walking through the night and I thought, “This is going to be a bit romantic.” And then he we got on the night bus and there were no seats so we were stood up and as we were swaying about holding on to the bar I could see him turning slightly green. And before I knew it, I had red sick all down my dress. Unfortunately I didn’t see him again. He probably didn’t remember the next day but if he did, he’d have been mortified.
Ergh, that’s horrid. So aside from vomit, what’s your biggest turn-off in a bloke?
Being too cocky. It’s nice to be humble.
You seem to constantly be on our screens at the moment – what has been your highlight?
They’ve all been so different. I really enjoyed doing Legally Blonde, but I’ve also really loved doing straight plays. I’m doing Shakespeare this summer which will be another challenge. Telly-wise, I’ve enjoyed each one for different reasons – Gavin & Stacey, Benidorm, and Dates would be right up there. But if I had to choose one, it would be Mrs Biggs (right). We filmed in Australia for two months which was an incredible experience. We became a little family and it was a real life story. I became really good friends with the real Mrs Biggs!
Do you get time to enjoy all your success?
I just feel so paranoid it’s all going to end tomorrow – I always think I’ll get found out. Because I didn’t train, I always have this fear in my belly that I’m rubbish and suddenly everyone’s gonig to realise. There are so many brilliant actors out there so to be working and getting paid for doing what I love, I can’t be any more thankful for that.
And your future ambitions…
I’ve been asked that a lot recently and I never know what to say. I don’t think too far ahead – that way you can disappoint yourself. Be grateful for what you’re doing, treat every day as if it’s your last, give it 110 per cent, and anything else is a bonus.
Sheridan Smith and Andrew Scott star in Dates at 10pm on Tuesday 2 July on Channel 4