The Abbey. Marianne Hope (Morwenna Banks). Copyright: Baby Cow Productions.

The Abbey

ITV sitcom about a rehab centre. 1 pilot in 2007. Stars Morwenna Banks, Russell Brand, Omid Djalili, Tamsin Egerton and others.

Morwenna Banks interview

Morwenna Banks talks about created The Abbey...

What inspired you to write The Abbey?

It was something I've wanted to write for a long time. I think that rehab is a very necessary thing for many many people. And I think that there are clearly some brilliantly run places that have a very positive effect on people. But I was fascinated by the places that don't run along such orthodox lines and can sometimes be counter-productive for people seeking help.

I wanted to write about an establishment that has been set up by someone who has all the right intentions, but all the wrong methods.

Can you describe Marianne and The Abbey in your own words?

Marianne has been to hell and back. She thinks that she is a completely reconstructed character but her own rehab hasn't even scratched the surface of her problems. She wants to help people but is the last person on earth who should be giving out advice. She is the toddler in charge of the Nursery; at any moment she may have a massive tantrum.

The Abbey itself is a beautiful old country house that could do with a bit of its own rehab. She and Tony don't really have the money to do it up completely and so parts of it, like Marianne, are crumbling.

It's run along very unclear lines with no proper medical or psychotheraputic guidance. It's more about candles, chants and massages.

Marianne runs many of the therapy sessions: music therapy, sports therapy, make-up therapy. You only have to be in one of her classes for two minutes to know that's it's always all about her.

Where did you get the inspiration from for Marianne?

I'm fascinated by celebrity culture and music and in the intersection of the two. She's really an amalgamation of all the best female rockers of the past thirty years.

What can we expect from a series? Can you give away any plans for the characters?

Lots of plans for a series. It's inevitable that everyone will fall in love with person they shouldn't fall in love with and detest the person who can help them. I think over-all it will be a series of dramatic misunderstandings, intense therapy sessions, big hair, inappropriate clothes and the odd prat-fall. And obviously every episode will have to feature Omid Djalili in his bathing trunks.

Published: Monday 1st January 2007