From Life of Wylie:
I attended the London press launch for the new series last month.
Where we were shown the first episode, which begins in September 1938 with Sir Hallam worried about events in Hitler’s Germany.
Writer and executive producer Heidi Thomas then took part in two Q&A sessions with fellow executive producer Faith Penhale, who is also Head of Drama at BBC Wales.
The first included the Upstairs cast and the second the Downstairs.
Q: We understand that Lady Persie is rather naughty in this series. How naughty does she become?
Claire Foy (Ladie Persie): “As naughty as it’s possible to get, I think.”
Heidi Thomas: “Whilst never perceiving herself as anything other than good, I think.”
Claire Foy: “Oh yeah. She loves herself. And I love her too very dearly. Apart from fascism. She just does what makes her happy and doesn’t really see why everyone else has a problem with it. But people have lots of problems with lots of things that she does in this series. Literally she does everything that’s possible to do, wrong.”
Faith Penhale: “She very much has her own moral code that she lives by. Not shared by others.”
Q: How does what happens affect her relationship with older sister Agnes (Keeley Hawes)?
Faith Penhale: “There are consequences when that is then played out. It’s a very complicated sisterly relationship.”
Claire Foy: “They’ve got a really difficult relationship anyway. Not difficult, but there’s so much history to it. There’s so much jealousy.”
Keeley Hawes: “But Agnes still loves that little Nazi (Persie).” (laughter)
Q: The Downton Abbey issue?
Faith Penhale: “The shows are so different. And I think the settings are so different and the worlds are so different. There’s absolutely space for both shows. It’s never about, ‘In what way are we similar to Downton?’ We see ourselves as very much like we do our own thing. So they really are different. The fact is we’re London 1938 – I don’t even know what year they’re set. But it’s way before that. And it’s not London. A very different set of characters, worlds and themes.”
Heidi Thomas: “It hasn’t been part of our thinking while we make the show at all. We’re so centred on what we do and I think we’re all so passionate about these two families at this time in history. That’s our story.”
Claire Foy: “I don’t think anyone who ever writes any TV programme ever would ever say…someone who was writing Corrie would ever say, ‘Oh in EastEnders they did this, so we’ll do that.’ It’s not really how it works.”
Heidi Thomas: “No, it just isn’t.”
Michael Landes (Casper Landry): “Except for in America. They do that all the time!” (laughter)