Learning from the successes of The Thick of It, Getting On and Twenty Twelve, BBC Four return with a new sitcom, this time a studio sitcom, a first for the channel. Up The Women, written by Jessica Hynes, best known for her roles in Spaced, The Royle Family and Twenty Twelve, is set in 1910, based around a movement called ‘The Banbury Intricate Craft Circle’ and set in the Banbury church hall.
Well I did a treatment for a film, and as a result of that I did a lot of research and I really got into the research. My initial treatment was for a comedy film about these suffragettes who tried to assassinate the Prime Minister, and as I researched it more and more I got into it in a much more serious way and so the treatment got more and more serious. So then when I delivered it, it wasn’t really comedy enough. So then I had this idea to right it into a sitcom basically. I left it for a while, and then I decided the characters would be maybe, well served in an old fashioned structured sitcom.
No, not at all. It’s only until I read that article and started researching it that.
Q Up The Women is set in the one room, the Banbury Church Hall. Was it always the idea always to set it in one room?
Yes, I mean initially I thought I might go into cutaways and different locations, but then when they commissioned it, the budget for the studio restricted it. So basically all I had was the Church Hall. It was an incredible challenge, an incredible writing challenge.
She’s book smart, with no practical experience basically. She means well but she’s a terrible leader. She does her best but she doesn’t really do very well.
Yes, I mean it was always about the characters and how they interacted yes.
Yes, this was just a pilot. They’ve commissioned it for another six episodes.
Well, we’re just talking about it now really and the schedule was quite tight before, so we’re just trying to work out a way of making it not so intense. And yes, I’m just thinking about the characters and where to go. It’s odd thinking about it before it’s actually been on television.
I think it does. And I think when people offer you constructive and good criticism, it’s foolish to completely ignore it. I know people who never read critics, but I’ll be interested to know what people think.
My starting point was just thinking about types of characters that would together be good, and work well together. And I guess that’s how Gwen’s character came about.
Aw thank you. Yes it’s really great. Erm… I don’t know really, I’m not sure. I know John (Morton)’s working on something, and I know he does like to work with the same people, so I really hope he does give me another job. I’d love to work with him again.
Q So what’s next for you then? I read that you want to do more stand-up, is that true?
No, no, no. I don’t know where that came from. I think that was written in my Wikipedia page and for some reason I’ve been unable to change it. No, I did do some stand-up, and I do love it but I really don’t have time to write it really at the moment. Up The Women is my main focus for the minute, I’ve got a few other things to diversify myself.
No not at all. If things come along, I’m always up for, you know, reading good scripts. In terms of writing, what spurs me on to write is that I write stuff that I want to see and what I feel is missing.
I did toy with the idea of playing Helen, because I think Helen’s a really nice character. But then, you know, when Rebecca (Front) agreed to do it, I just thought – Oh nothing could be better than that! She said yes straight away, I think on the same night this is on, Psychobitches is on I think at the same time. So it’s Frontovision – she’s so good. It was lovely having her on board.