About The Kennedys

The Kennedys. Image shows from L to R: Jenny (Emma Pierson), Tim (Harry Peacock), Emma Kennedy (Lucy Hutchinson), Tony Kennedy (Dan Skinner), Brenda Kennedy (Katherine Parkinson), David Palmer (Clive Rowe), Dee Palmer (Shola Adewusi). Copyright: BBC

The stars of The Kennedys talk about their characters and the show.

Katherine Parkinson: Brenda Kennedy

The Kennedys. Brenda Kennedy (Katherine Parkinson). Copyright: BBC

How would you describe Brenda?


Did you know Emma Kennedy before?

Only vaguely, through my friend Katy Brand. I had long admired her as an actress though, especially in People Like Us.

What was it like in full 70s fashion and on set?

I love vintage clothes so was delighted. The men's trousers were very tight though, which could be distracting!

What do you love most about Brenda?

Her hypocrisy. She is my spirit animal.

Is there a pressure to get Brenda right, as Emma's mum?

I could only be a pale imitation. I only wish I'd met her.

Dan Skinner: Tony Kennedy

The Kennedys. Tony Kennedy (Dan Skinner). Copyright: BBC

What can you tell us about your character, Tony Kennedy?

Tony is the father of Emma and husband of Brenda. He's a very proud, working-class Welshman who teaches art at secondary school. He adores both Brenda and Emma and he is what you might describe as the strong reliable type. He can build things, fix things and does it all with a willing smile on his face. Although Brenda is a strong woman Tony isn't under the thumb, it's not a traditional 70s sitcom relationship. He gives as good as he gets and does the things she asks because he loves her.

What was it like having to grow your hair and beard for that authentic 70s style? Or is it a wig?

It is not a wig, it's all my own! There was an awful lot of hair about in the 70s it's true, the popular belief at the time being that lots of hair equals lots of manliness. I think you can always tell when an actor is wearing a wig or fake beard, we decided to grow our own. I started growing mine in November and we began filming in March. When we came to filming it was deemed that I had too much hair, so they chopped a bit off, did a bit of sculpting and created the final result you see on screen. We are all very proud of the hair!

What do you think of Tony's 70s style?

Well, Tony has a fairly practical approach to clothing. He's got quite a few pairs of wide corduroys, plain shirts and lovely jumpers. In terms of looking like a 70s dude, I think Tim (played by Harry Peacock) wins in the fashion department; he gets to wear all the stuff you might have seen Barry Sheene wearing in a Brut advert from about that time: double denim, ankle boots, gold chains. Whereas Tony looks every inch the responsible art teacher he is.

How was it working with your other male co-star Harry? Are there any funny stories from being on set?

Harry and I bonded very quickly. We are both massive rugby fans so we spent most of the time talking about who we would pick to play for England for the upcoming Rugby World Cup. Not everyone's cup of tea of course and I'm sure on occasion we bored everyone on the makeup bus to death, including Harry's real-life wife Katherine, who weirdly is playing my wife in the show. Confused? I was...

Anyway, Harry and I would play rugby every lunch break and on one occasion I was a bit over-eager with one of my passes and put my shoulder out and had to have a bit of the afternoon off. It was boiling that day as well so I think I had a bit of sunstroke too, and when you're wearing 70s clothes (mostly thick materials, wool, corduroy etc.) you burn up pretty quickly. In fact I don't know how they coped in the summer in the 70s wearing those clothes. It must have been very unpleasant on the underground every morning.

Harry Peacock: Tim

The Kennedys. Tim (Harry Peacock). Copyright: BBC

Can you tell us a bit more about Tim?

Tim's a man of his time, drenched in Brut Aftershave, who idolises George Best, Jackie Stewart & Errol Flyn. He has very few redeeming features but somehow is still quite charming and likeable.

What drew you to The Kennedys?

I love the world that Emma has created from her memories. Although, it's obviously a hyper-real world for entertainment's sake. Tim is brilliant to play because he says what he thinks and lives his life entirely for his own selfish purposes, which is fun!

What did you think of Tim's 70s style?

I loved all of my costumes! It was like a bit like being in Starsky & Hutch.

Was that a real moustache?

Yes, it is all my own hair.

What was it like on set?

Set was brilliant, we all got on well. Emma Pierson is an old friend - we'd done a sitcom together before [Days Like These], weirdly also set in the 70s. Dan is a big rugby fan as am I, so that's all we talked about, and Katherine is my wife and mother of my children.

Emma Pierson: Jenny

The Kennedys. Jenny (Emma Pierson). Copyright: BBC

How would you describe Jenny?

Jenny is a very sweet and kind woman; she is also rather ditzy and does often teeter on the brink of hysteria - whether that be laughter or tears. She adores her best friend Brenda and Brenda's family, and while Tim leaves her exasperated most of the time she is very in love with him and his caveman ways.

Jenny is creative in spirit, perhaps not so much in talent, but you can never doubt her enthusiasm for giving it all a good go. Whilst she hasn't quite got her head around feminism in the way that Brenda has described it to her, she certainly knows what she wants in life and is determined to get it. It just so happens that her big dream is to have a baby with Tim and marry him - in whichever order that needs to happen and whatever way that needs to happen! She also loves shoes, Farrah Fawcett's hair and knitting.

Are you quite different?

I think, truthfully, we are quite different. I'd be thrilled to say we are similar in terms of having enthusiasm, and Jenny has a good and kind heart for the things and people she loves, but I would hope that I'm able to execute the things I approach in a slightly more logical way. Although I also love shoes, Farrah Fawcett's hair, and I'm rather partial to a good piece of knitwear - just haven't quite got round to knitting it myself yet.

What drew you to The Kennedys?

I've worked with Chris Gernon, the director, and Emma Strain, the producer, before [Up The Women] - they're an absolute dream team, so when they asked me to be part of this project I didn't hesitate in saying yes! Coupled with the scripts, which are completely and utterly brilliant. Emma Kennedy writes such glorious, funny, characters and dialogue, and every episode has so much joy and life and bonkersness in it, that they are a treat to read in themselves - let alone the fun one has in bringing them to life.

Then the icing on the cake was this cast. Katherine I have worked with before, and we had such a laugh and really enjoyed hanging out and getting to be ridiculous together so we were thrilled we'd get to do that again. Dan is just one of the nicest people that could exist within this industry and his performance is melt-your-heart lovely, and Harry I've known since I was 17 when we worked together - on another 70s sitcom funnily enough - called Days Like These. Tim and I have lots of scenes together and I have been laughing out loud at his performance.

Then little Lucy turned up and put us all to shame with how incredibly talented and clever and professional she is. And to be honest, you have one of the loveliest jobs and bunch of people you could ever have wanted to work on and with - that's what drew me to this!

What did you think of Jenny's 70s style?

When you are doing a period piece it can be easy to get over-excited with the era and just chuck in all of the fashion references that we know existed, but these need to look like clothes that exist within a real person's wardrobe - and within a certain type of person's wardrobe. So for instance, Jenny and Brenda dress very differently, because Jenny tends to be a bit girly - though I have to say some of the pieces that Jenny had were really lovely.

I think in today's fashion, we pull our influences from so many different times that our style appreciation is very broad. Rather fittingly the 70s are hugely influential on the high street right now and I genuinely wouldn't have felt out of place wearing Jenny's outfits in London - East London especially - I think all of the cast could have gone out and no one would have batted an eyelid!

Are there any funny stories from set?

There are so many funny moments that cropped up across every day as we were filming that I couldn't possibly single one out. We really did go to work and enjoy each other's company and enjoy the scripts and scenes and watching it all come to life. We were very lucky and having seen some of the episodes I'm ever so proud to be part of it - and I really hope that the audience have as much fun watching it as we did making it!

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