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I TALK TO Larry Lamb & Celia Imrie

Things are about to get interesting in Love And Marriage as episode four sees Larry Lamb and Celia Imrie's characters, Rowan and Tommy come to the forefront. I caught up with them on set for a chat.

In the last episode we found out that Rowan's daughter who went missing has been found and I for one can't wait to find out how that story plays out.

When I went along to set earlier on this year I spoke to Celia and Larry about their characters, that missing daughter and Larry spoke about similarities to Gavin & Stacey, as well as what it was like to work with Alison Steadman again.

Rowan and Tommy have a, shall we say, very interesting set up. How would you best describe their situation and their characters?

Larry: Well, it's me being led astray! 

Celia: Well I'm quite sure that there'll be lots of people looking who, will understand it I think. It's brilliantly written I mean, we were discussing actually how good he (Stewart Harcourt) writes for women. 

Larry: Yes, very well. Which is not to say he doesn't write well for men but he does write brilliantly for women. There's no doubt about it. Wonderful stuff. 

Celia: Yes and the way you sort of find them is not sort of thrown in your face. I love the 'acting down' of it all. I'm sure there'll be many people thinking - "Oh god... maybe I'm in that situation." - It's not a bad situation I don't think. We're not doing any harm to anyone really, I'm sure there'll be lots of people who will understand. I think she absolutely adores Tommy, there's no question about that. 

Larry: There's definitely a bit of - "Have your cake and eat it" - with both of them, absolutely. But there again, you know, as soon as you start to look to stray, you're looking for some sort of fulfilment. And if the other party, the one you're living with, gives you license to do it, which is what's happened here. Then it must be that both parties aren't getting what they want. 

Even if all she wants is - "Just get him out the house." - and doesn't really want him around, you can only assume that's why the deal's been done. Because it is very definitely NOT an illicit relationship, which certainly changes and sets the tone. That's the interesting thing about it. If it were an illicit relationship, the dynamic would be completely different. It's on the level but it's got boundaries within it.

Does Pauline's arrival change your relationship at all?

Larry: Good point. That's an interesting question. Perhaps one we should have addressed - but we haven't! The fact is, the situation is that Pauline has arrived into our relationship. 

Celia: But it hasn't, seemingly, upset the balance. And strangely today, in a scene, she tells me off about all the people that I've had and I say to her - "You said I was wrong about Tommy." - To which she says - "No. I was wrong about Tommy." Which in those two sentences, actually, means - "He's great." 

How would you best describe Rowan's relationship with her granddaughter? Rowan's brought her up right in the absence of her mother, your daughter?

Celia: Yes, it's like a second chance for her to make it OK. But at the time we're at now, episode four, things are on very very icy ground. I find the situation of her daughter having gone, is unbearable. I don't know how she's coped. I mean it would have been better if the daughter was dead, really. How she's coped I don't know. An awful lot has been buried, Rowan's had to absolutely smash it all down. It's just awful - when she has to see her again in episode four - it's awful, unbearable. I mean to realise what's happened, it's quite cruel actually as well, of the daughter. 

Would you say Love And Marriage is predominantly comedy, or is it very much balanced between comedy and drama?

Celia: I think marvellous balance. I don't think you should ever in a play have one without the other. Like Shakespeare, you know, he leads up to a ghastly bit and then you have the porter coming in. 

Larry: It's real, you know, commedia, it's of the people. It is whatever comes out. The drama comes out of the comedy, the comedy comes out of the drama - you can't have one without the other. I think, looking back at Gavin & Stacey, as a sort of reference point for me, that was the sort of joy of that thing. You never really knew what was going to happen. One was feeding the other. 

So for me, there are sort of elements of that mixture in Love And Marriage. It's very difficult to define this, it's a real fusion of the two, really it is. Very witty and very moving. 

I would have thought this would have a very broad appeal, and very much so appeal to anyone who's ever loved Gavin & Stacey - without doubt. Because I mean the thing about Gavin & Stacey, is the way that it crossed all age groups, all classes and this very much is of middle Britain, you know. And I think it's very good that it's been placed here (Coventry) and not London. That's what Gavin & Stacey had, it was of Britain, it wasn't of London. Not London-centric you know, and that's a real positive move.

Talking of Gavin & Stacey, Larry you're reunited with Alison Steadman in this...

Larry: I know! It's very bizarre, talk about incestuous - shacked up with her sister now. Because the trouble is with those things, you do essentially become married. You become that person's partner. I find myself looking across sometimes at Alison and Alison looking at me sort of like - "Hmm...". So there's a level of ownership, we had this very organic relationship and now all of a sudden, there I am because this other organic relationship is now set up, but now I'm sort of party to another element of another life. 

I mean Alison and I knew each other way before Gavin & Stacey, not that we see a lot of each other, but we live around the corner from each other and we you know, certainly stay in touch.

Back to Rowan then, does her wealth come from marrying wealth?

Celia: Well yes, and I'd love to find out about that because I haven't been given an answer really, but it must have been. She talks about her first husband Micky's 'trust fund', who ran off with her best friend. I also think she earnt a bit too as a model in the seventies, which I think was cleverly invested somehow. But it's interesting, I haven't got an answer about what he did, Micky.

What's her relationship like with Pauline, her sister?

Celia: I think she adores her really. But we do have a row, and actually we did a dinner scene the other night where she says - "I love having you here." and then Pauline says - "Actually I might go and find my own place." I found that really shocking actually, because it's not an easy thing living with your sister, I shouldn't think, but at the moment it's fine, but we do have a row. 

Larry: A spectacular row! (Laughs).

Throughout each episode there are piece to camera for each couple. What do you think this adds to the story?

Celia: It's quite clever isn't it? I like it for it's unusual-ness apart from anything else. It's different.

Larry: You see, I think it's a very canny move because, modern, contemporary television audiences are so hip to it all. They've seen the backstage side of everything, people are not living in la la land anymore.

And that's nice, that's taking them in on it a little bit. I think it's a brilliant stroke. I remember when I first read it I thought - "Whoa. This is clever." - it really is. Because you're speaking to the character, and the character is speaking to you. Then you watch the character you know, it's a very clever device.

Love And Marriage continues Wednesdays at 9pm on ITV


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