Earlier this year, I visited the set of Mount Pleasant in Manchester to find out from Sally Lindsay and Dan Ryan what’s in store for Lisa and Dan as the show enters its fifth series.
This September, Sky 1 comedy Mount Pleasant returns to the channel after spending the last three series on Sky Living.
Lisa and Dan, played by Sally Lindsay and Dan Ryan, have been there since the very beginning (2011), and whilst the series is very much an ensemble piece, they’re very much at the heart of the series, the glue that holds it all together.
What's the relationship like between Lisa and Dan this series? Not particularly strong I believe?
Sally: Well it's interesting. As Mount Pleasant always does, it reflects the minutiae of life, and they've had a baby and they're both getting back to normal.
She's got an absolutely fantastic business, it's really doing well, and I think what's happened is that they've sort of lost each other. Because so much has happened to them.
Dan: They haven't noticed everything that's changed. They haven't noticed that they now have a father-in-law who now lives in the house with them, they haven't noticed that they're not paying each other enough attention, there's a baby...
Sally: Lisa's still grieving her mum.
Dan: I remember, you can put your relationship on the back burner for five years until your kids start going to school properly, and I think they're just in the midst of not realising that all of that is getting between what they had.
It's not bath time fun anymore. The bath time is bathing the baby.
Sally: Lisa and Dan are intrinsically selfish. They've always loved each other, but they've got that selfish thing, where Dan gets really stroppy if he doesn't get his own way and Lisa obviously kicks off, and everything is not their own way because they don't have their own space anymore. I think that's what's happened.
There's a really profound statement when Lisa is talking to Roger, and she's just trying to say "I just don't understand why" - obviously there are a million reasons why, but she just can't understand why. So I think there's a very real heavy threat to their marriage and their relationship.
Dan: It's not about the arguing and the making up anymore, it's just about niggling and niggling. Everything is annoying between them.
And what's that like to play?
Sally: It was quite hard to do actually, because Lisa and Dan are always so on it, but it's brilliant because I think it's a thing a lot of relationships go through. Especially when you've got young children.
It's that competition thing, and it's amazing what you say to the person you love so much in the world. It's very interesting to see it back.
There’s a lovely scene when Lisa is having a good old gossip with her dad about Jenna from across the road, and she’s all smart and she’s got a briefcase, and she’s about to go to work and then Dan goes mad saying “Are we ever going to talk about what’s really going on?” - and Lisa just goes mental at him! It’s so brilliantly written though that you’d be a dick to mess it up.
Dan: There’s always something interesting to play every single day on this show.
Sally: You never feel like you’re going through the motions. It’s a massive challenge every time.
How are Lisa and Dan coping with the new neighbours?
Sally: Well it's sort of a comedy of errors really. Lisa and the Millers get off on the wrong foot really. Not so much Cameron Miller.
Dan: No, he's nice. But we've got two ladies living opposite each other who are too alike. They have very similar personalities, and are both very strong women. They get off on the wrong foot and it gets worse and worse!
Sally: Basically what happens is that Jenna moves in and she's a businesswoman, so she pops round with some leaflets and Lisa has had the day from hell working from home, so she literally says "I don't want what you're selling" and slams the door in her face.
And that's their first meeting. Lisa's a bit of a cowboy this series.
Dan: And Dan and Cameron are trying to be mates but we've got two warring wives so it's never going to work.
Sally: It’s amazing how this world progresses and it just seems to get bigger.
Dan: It’s very interesting when you bring new characters into a show and they’re big, bold, brilliant characters. We know how Dan and Lisa will operate with each other, although we have done scenes that were kind of weird, because they were just not like Dan and Lisa are to each other.
I know how he’ll treat Greg, and I know how he’ll treat Barry, but when you bring in new characters you suddenly realise that you’ve got to find out how Dan would operate with this person. It adds another layer to the character you play, you find another side of them.
Why do you think Lisa and Jenna don’t get on?
Sally: Essentially, without giving the plot away, she goes and has her hair done (at Jenna’s salon) and it goes wrong, through no fault of her own, and it sort of progresses from there really.
It’s almost like Lisa’s in a state of paranoid, which makes Jenna paranoid, which means they feel like they’re scoring points as neighbours, and they’re not actually. It’s almost like it’s become an obsession.
I think Lisa drives it more if I’m honest. Because they’ve got a little dark secret that they don’t want everyone to know about and Lisa becomes obsessed with it. It really is about distraction for her. There’s a connection between the Dawsons and the Millers you see, that’s the dark secret you see.
What is it about Mount Pleasant that people love so much?
Sally: I just think people think they are Dan and Lisa. Seriously. I think people relate, because it’s the normality of life that we study and break apart and I think it’s just such a world that people want to live in.
They want to be friends with people on that close, they like the world. I mean I like it when I come back, I find it very comforting. Some of the biggest drama I’ve ever done has been on Mount Pleasant. Ironically I’ve been in Mount Pleasant as long as I was in Coronation Street, and when you study a character that much, there’s something that dramatically you can never do in any other thing because you know the character so well.
Dan: You’ll know from Twitter, but for people who know this show, it’s their favourite show. I had people on there today going “Where’s the DVD for Series 4? I live in Toronto and I can’t get hold of it!” And then you get people who only just discover it and watch all four series in one go and you go “What’s wrong with you?!” (Laughs)
Outside of Mount Pleasant were you both happy with the reaction you got for Home Fires and Ordinary Lies?
Dan: I went up for Ordinary Lies and didn’t get it!
Sally: I went up for Home Fires and didn’t get it! They won’t put us in the same show anymore. That’s a bit of a shitter isn’t it? We can’t be in the same thing which is a bit annoying.
But yeah, Ordinary Lies got a brilliant reaction, and it was one of the best pieces of writing I’d ever seen, it was fantastic.
Dan: I’m glad Home Fires went against what people were thinking, that it was going to be boring.
Sally: It’s great to do different things that are so different to Dan and Lisa. But I love coming back to Dan and Lisa, I’d play her forever, I love it!