Barbara Flynn plays Pat...
Hi Barbara. How have you found it working on Pat & Cabbage?
From the very first reading, this production has been an absolute delight, a rollercoaster of hilarity. The cast have been a joy, I am joined in Pat's story by Rosie Cavaliero and Diane Morgan and Marcus Garvey as my children and son in law, and a heavenly grandson too. Peter Davidson is Pat's love interest! And of course Cherie Lunghi as Pat's beloved friend Cabbage, with Tom Turner playing her son.
Were you impressed by the script?
Definitely. For me the deciding factor on any project is always the script. When the writing is there, I'm interested. I have been lucky enough to work with many wonderful writers over the years, amongst them Alan Plater on The Beiderbecke Trilogy; Andrew Davies on his original A Very Peculiar Practice; Jimmy McGovern on his groundbreaking Cracker and delightful times on Open All Hours.
As soon as I read Pat & Cabbage, I thought the scripts were new, original and brilliant. Amy Shindler and Beth Chalmers write about these two engaging women and their glorious children with such a light and very witty touch. There is such zest, fun and fondness in the text.
One scene just naturally tumbles into another. Amy and Beth touch on areas of life's comedy with an absolutely fresh approach for television. What they have written is tremendous fun. But above all, their understanding of human nature is accurate and appealing and Pat and Cabbage will I'm sure give great enjoyment to all those who watch.
How would you describe your character?
Pat married for many years and is now finding her feet as a widow is a kind, thoughtful and rather cautious woman who discovers with a little help from her friend Cabbage that there is still a lot fun to be had out there! She is always thinking of others and takes body blows very well. And when her family or her friends are in trouble she discovers strengths she didn't know she had! Pat has a lot of love in her.
How does Pat compare with characters you played in the past?
Pat is perhaps a less feisty character than I have played before, I'm not really known for playing shrinking violets. I'm absolutely loving the role of Pat, and so happy to be back in comedy again.
How would you characterise Pat's relationship with Cabbage?
Pat is not soft, but Cabbage is more of a leader and appears more confident so Pat normally defers to her - except in certain circumstances where Pat saves the day. In any friendship, there is always give and take. Cabbage often picks up on things that are wrong with Pat physically, but Pat lets it all ride over her! Only once does she say, "What do you mean?" Friendship is often about one person appearing to be the leader and the other person being the supporter - that's where the fun comes in as they enjoy each other's friendship rather as they did when they were much younger.
How did Pat and Cabbage first get to know each other?
Pat and Cabbage have known each other since their children were small and then drifted apart as friends but have rediscovered each other now that they are both on their own once more. Amy and Beth, our writers, have excelled at bringing out this really good female friendship in a quick-firing, light way. All in all, Pat and Cabbage have a very strong, symbiotic relationship. They look after each other, and that's great to watch.
Have you enjoyed working with Cherie?
Absolutely. We get on really well. There is a lot of pressure on us, but I think we have great chemistry on and off screen. We are very different people, but I think that has actually helped. I've learned from not being the feisty one - I've had to sit on that during this production. But it's been very easy because Cherie is so sweet. Some actresses never work well with women - they're too competitive. But I feel that Cherie and I have collaborated really well. We support each other.
Will viewers identify with these two women living life to the full?
Definitely. I certainly find it very hard to realise that I am the age I am and that I should act that age! As the wonderful Alan Plater used to say, "Growing up is overrated!" I think this comedy will occupy a completely new space and charm viewers. I think people will really relate to these characters, both the older and the younger.
Do you think that the theme of adult children still living with their parents will strike a chord?
I think it will strike several chords! It reflects what's going on in so many families. The writers have brilliantly mirrored what's happening all over the country.
You have given so many wonderful performances over the years. What's your secret?
Heavens - I don't know. Each job is different and equally hard, and so in working, by breaking down the text and asking, so what is my job in this scene? It's the constantly stimulating challenge of my job that is the joy. And the laughs, and yes, probably faster and funnier!
Finally, what has the atmosphere been like on the set of Pat & Cabbage?
It's been very good, we had an extraordinarily happy atmosphere on set, a superlative crew, fantastic Director and very special cast with amazing young talent. It's been an honour to be in such wonderful company. I've had an absolutely glorious time with this marvellous team. I couldn't have asked for more.