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I TALK TO Niky Wardley & James McArdle

After last week's opening episode, this week's Love And Marriage focuses more on the relationship between Heather and Charlie so I caught up with Niky Wardley and James McArdle on set for a chat.

In episode two we really get to explore more of Heather and Charlie's relationship and begin to learn of the problems in their relationship, the main one of which seems to be the struggle they face trying to have a baby.

What can you tell us about your characters then?

Niky: Well, we play Heather and Charlie who are the only childless couple, and we are desperately trying to have a baby. Heather is probably trying to have a baby slightly more than Charlie is.

We sort of join them at a bit of a weird time in their relationship. Heather's a very jealous person, and she's got a very low image of herself. She doesn't think she's quite enough for Charlie, physically as well she sees him as kind of a 9 and she's a 6. Unfortunately she let's that paranoia eat away at their relationship. 

James: And there's an age gap in their relationship too. I know it doesn't look like there is, (laughs), but there is. It's more sort of, psychological for Heather isn't it?

Niky: Yeah, yeah it is. And it's a bit of a shame actually because she causes problems in their relationship where there are none and where there doesn't need to be. 

James: But Charlie loves her, he's so solid and it's really obvious to Charlie, although it's not obvious to Heather, and that's the thing that Charlie could probably show a bit more of consciously.

But he just thinks everything's fine you know, because he loves her and no matter what she thinks he will always always love her. And he does you know, and he loves the family as well. Which I think at times can be difficult for Heather, as obviously he's an outsider, as you can tell, [thick Scottish accent a bit of a giveaway there] and he's really taken to all the Paradise's. 

Niky: Yeah and I think sometimes Heather thinks sometimes, that's the reason he's still with her is because of his love for her family rather than his love of her.

James, your character Charlie is a Fireman, did you have to do much training at all?

James: Yeah absolutely! That's been fun. We had to go into a fire and unfortunately the old lady whose house we go into dies, so we had to film all that which was very exciting because Stuart (Wright), who you'll meet who plays Kevin, had to have Fireman training before we started the shoot, a couple of days before.

And all the guys who have been helping us are real Firemen, so it's been amazing, down to the language they speak and it's been very helpful having them down on set telling us how to do things. Just to have someone there to really quickly telly you - "You'd do this. Or you'd do that." has been a lot of fun. And you know, I've enjoyed dressing up as a Fireman.

You mention having to dress up as a fireman, isn't there a certain mankini involved at some point too?

James: Oh no! Honestly, I've been going around pretending to be introverted going - "oh no, don;t look at me in my mankind!" walking around everywhere. That was one of my first scenes, back in January, and that was an ice breaker for people. And it was actually my first scene with Alison Steadman, who's like one of my heroes. I'm just out of Drama School and when I was training, at Youth Theatre, we got told we had to choose a male actor and a female actor to study - and mine was James Dean and Alison Steadman. 

So I am OBSESSED with her! I've met really famous people doing what we do, and I'm not really phased by stuff like that. I don't really get starstruck or anything but I was so nervous. I was just absolutely petrified and the first time I met her, I was in this mankini. 

I was like - "Hi there I'm James." - she just didn't react at all and I was like - "Oh no! I've mis-judged this completely. She does not look impressed." She's fine with it, but I was more nervous than her.

What does Heather do for a job?

Niky: Heather works for a football club, in the marketing department, so she has an office based job. And yes, she's very friendly with someone there, who's also her flamenco partner! I had to learn a few moves. It was a bit difficult actually because we didn't really have that much time and the schedule was so packed anyway so we were trying to find a few hours where we could. 

Because it wasn't just when I was free, you know, the other actor who plays Ashley had to be too. We didn't have an awful amount of time, but I think we kind of got there in the end. They used a bit of smoke on the day, so hopefully it's just us coming through the smoke. (Laughs).

So a big factor in your relationship is that you haven't had kids yet. Why is it that? Does Heather think that her husband is resistant to the idea?

Niky: No, I think just in that sometimes it takes a long time doesn't it? She's doing the ovulation sticks, and she's really trying and it's just taking it's sweet old time. And of course that can thing can get in the way of being too stressed. She's very stressed about it. 

James: And there's the age difference. 

Niky: What?! Stop bringing that up. (Laughs). 

James: Charlie's not resistant to it, but I don't think he's as keen I think. He's not as eager to have a kid now I don't think. If they have a child great, but he's not sort of as desperate for one as Heather is. And I think it's heard for Heather to watch, because he's great with all the nieces and nephews and he is great with kids. 

Actually, on that point, we do love the real kids that play our nieces and nephews. They're all a family, they're wonderful. It's just so easy. I love doing scenes with them because you don't need to act do you? 

Because no matter what the scene has been written about, or what you think the scene is going to be, take 5 toddlers into it and suddenly it's about something else. And all you're doing is dealing with them - which makes you look believable. They're really good and they're really talented. I mean the 3 year-old, Lucy, she sometimes gives me a run for my money, and I'm like - "I better go away and work on that!" (Laughs). She's really excellent.

Does Heather disapprove of the break-up of her parents' marriage?

Niky: Yeah, she does massively. I think it really rocks her, hugely. Well I think for all of them actually, in fact there's a lovely scene where Charlie makes note of it, that they're the kind of pinnacle for most of us of what to look for in terms of a solid home and a solid marriage. So when that starts to crumble, Heather has a really difficult time with it. She gets quite angry with both of them actually, both her mother and her father at different points.

What is it about the show that will get people watching do you think?

James: I think the thing that makes the show unique, I hope, I mean we feel it, and you must hear this all the time, but the cast really do get on. We genuinely do, it's just like this lovely feeling, and everybody takes the rip out of me because whenever we have a scene all together I go - "Oh. I love it when we're all together." - because I do, it's so easy to act. I mean even visually, seeing 15 characters on the screen is quite unusual now, and all of them being quite close, that kind of love... is 'paradise'.

Love And Marriage continues Wednesdays at 9pm on ITV


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