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I TALK TO Graeme Hawley & Zoe Telford

As the first series of Love And Marriage draws ever closer to the end it's time to get to know our fifth couple, Martin and Michelle, played by Graeme Hawley and Zoe Telford.

First of all, how would you best describe your characters?

Graeme: Well, I play Martin, who's the youngest son of Pauline and Ken Paradise. I'm married to Michelle and we have five children so we started having kids very young! We met at University and then got together, and then decided to get married and got pregnant. It all happened very quickly and then we decided that we wanted loads of children. 

Zoe: I made the decision not to pursue my career early on. 

Graeme: And I became a teacher, and the basis of where you find us at the start of the series is a couple in happy chaos, in a house full of mad children, with baby sick down their fronts and Coco Pops down their trousers!

ZT: I would say my character is fairly forthright, she loves the decision she's made to stay at home and look after the kids. Quite straightforward loving wife. 

Graeme: They probably see themselves as quite a modern couple actually. Out of all the family they're the only two who went to University. They see themselves as that couple maybe, not snobbish remotely, but they kind of see themselves as mildly bohemian etc. ZT: Yes I suppose so. And Michelle perhaps at times is a bit more on the periphery of the Paradise. They don't always see eye-to-eye, but she does love them all dearly.

And doesn't there come a point where she's no longer happy to stay at home?

Zoe: Yes, I think an old work colleague calls her and kind of floats the idea of her coming back to work, and then I think she starts to think a bit more about that. I mean she her life feels fairly fulfilled, clearly when you've got 5 kids, but there is apart of her that needs to go out and do something else. 

Graeme: And the house is sort of chaos isn't it? The house is kind of happy chaos, but it's chaos! 

Zoe: I don't think she's unhappy, I think she's very happy with what she's got but I think it's more a question of, this opportunity comes up and they talk about it and go - "Let's go for it and let's see what happens for 9 months." - and take it from there. I don't think they see it as much more beyond that. And Martin seems up for it. 

Graeme: He comes up with this thing that he's going to be a writer no, and he didn't really love teaching. That wasn't really his calling, and actually, he doesn't really want to be a writer. The underlying thing of it is that he doesn't really know what he wants to be. Whereas at that moment she's a lot surer of what she wants and what she is than he is. That's kind of the conflict that's set up between the characters if you like.

What's Martin's relationship like with his mother, Pauline, and how does he feel when she leaves?

Graeme: Her leaving at the end of the first episode is kind of devastating for all of the family really, including the in-laws as well actually. Everybody's really upset about it, because what you have at the beginning is what you'd call a very happy secure family unit, with mum and dad at the top of it. 

And then she kind of announces at the top of the series that she's leaving and it's kind of devastating for all of them really. 

And then a lot of the series is spent with them desperately trying to get their mum and dad back together, as they kind of see them as the figureheads of the family. Also, from my character's point of view if mum's not there then my eldest brother will end up running the family, who's a lunatic.

What's it been like working with all the small children?

Zoe: (Laughs). 

Graeme: (Laughs. They both laugh). Well... this is what it's been like! We're 12 weeks down the line and we're like... "yeah... it's good!" 

Zoe: Well, we've got five, Kevin and Ashley have three. 

Graeme: There's kids everywhere! (Laughs). 

Zoe: It's great, in that it just lends such an energy to a scene. You always have chaos around you, which is lovely because it brings truth to your scene instantly. 

Graeme: And they're brilliant. All our kids are a family. Debbie (Producer) had worked with the eldest before on Nativity and then found out she had these four brothers and sisters. 

Zoe: It's fantastic, so they have their relationships, and they're completely unaware of the camera and just messing around. Their character names are their own name, so they don't have to worry about that. So it all feels very very lovely and natural. And we kind of just slot in around what they're doing.

I have to ask Graham, as a Coronation Street fan myself, you must still get people coming up to you saying...

Graeme: "Where's Fizz?" - "I'm glad you killed Charlotte." and - "Where's your hammer?" (Laughs). And you know... "What was Rosie Webster like?" - "Is she really that crazy? (Helen Flanagan)". So yes, all of those things STILL are a daily part of my life. 

I made a lot of fantastic friends in Corrie, it's a wonderful place to work Corrie. In fact, when we're done here I promised I'd go in and say hello to everybody and have a bit of lunch and stuff. But Jenny McAlpine, who I did a lot of work with in particular is one of my best friends really.

Love And Marriage continues Wednesdays at 9pm on ITV


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