‘It’s a sad and redemptive tale’ - Christopher Eccleston on new BBC drama Come Home

PUBLISHED: 11:10 27 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:14 27 March 2018

Chistopher Eccleston stars in new BBC One drama Come Home. Photo BBC/Red Productions Limited/Steffan Hill.

Chistopher Eccleston stars in new BBC One drama Come Home. Photo BBC/Red Productions Limited/Steffan Hill.

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There’s a new reason to come home on Tuesday nights to turn on the television: Come Home on BBC1.

The new three-part series comes from the makers of Happy Valley, Ordinary Lies and Trust Me and has been created and written by Danny Brocklehurst – set in Northern Ireland, it focuses on mother Marie (Paula Malcomson), who decides to walk out on husband of 19-years, Greg (Christopher Eccleston), and their three children.

The first episode, on BBC1 tonight at 9pm, is told from Greg’s perspective, and follows him and their offspring as they struggle to comprehend their mother’s actions.

While Greg juggles work at Farrell Motors, raising his children and coping with the trials and tribulations of dating again, he tries to keep a sense of normality. However, it remains to be seen whether he will be able to move on when he’s trapped in the past.

With the aid of multiple timeframes, viewpoints and flashbacks, series makers hope that Greg and Marie’s story should be a talking point for viewers across the country. We spoke to Christopher Eccleston ahead of transmission tonight.

Q: What attracted you to the role?

A: The range of Danny’s writing. There was a great Thomas Hardy quote about Gabriel Oak... he says ‘on a good day, he’s a good man and on a bad day, he’s a bad man’. In short, a man of salt and pepper mixture and that’s definitely true of Greg. I think the main attraction was the arc of Greg’s journey; he’s a very different man by the end of episode three. He knows himself better at the end of this sad, redemptive tale.

Q: Tell us about your character, Greg.

A: Greg is a normal working man, he runs a small business in a garage and loves his family, his children and his wife but doesn’t know her. He has failed to recognise the distress in Marie until it’s too late. Fundamentally he’s a decent man but very flawed and controlling. He’s broken-hearted about the loss of his family unit. He learns an enormous lesson about generosity and forgiveness throughout the story.

Q: How did you perfect your Northern Irish accent?

A: I worked with a magician! A brilliant dialect coach called Brendan Gunn. I also spent a lot of time in pubs listening to locals. Belfast is my favourite city in the world, It’s such a great city to make television. I tried my accent out with the locals, they were supportive and critical when they needed to be but it helped and I stayed in character when I was in between scenes.

Q: Tell us about working with Danny Brocklehurst and Executive Producer Nicola Shindler?

A: I’ve worked with Nicola on Cracker, Our Friends in the North and Hillsborough and they’re all projects I’m very proud of, particularly, Hillsborough. They were works of great importance to me and Nicola. It’s the first time I’ve worked with Danny. I’d seen his stuff and I know he had worked on Clocking Off, and The Driver and admired it and wondered why I didn’t get an audition! It’s been a pleasure working with Danny. He has written a great script and I think he’s a very strong writer; it’s very unusual for a drama to be led by a woman who challenges the audience about the perceptions of femininity and why she leaves her children. Greg, Marie and Brenna are three dimensional characters neither good nor bad, and that’s down to Danny and of course to our brilliant director, Andrea Harkin.

Q: What were the biggest challenges you faced during the shoot?

A: I’m an actor, my job is easy. I turn up at work, learn my lines, don’t bump into the furniture and get on with the people I’m working with. I’m a very lucky man to be able to collaborate artistically with people and get paid for it. There were no big challenges other than staying out of the pub and keeping up with the gym.

Q: What’s going to surprise people about this series?

A: The extreme places and situations that the characters find themselves in. It’ll be interesting to see the story from everyone’s point of view rather than it being the typical male-led drama, there are six very strong characters in this and we see it from their point of view.

Q: What did you get up to in your spare time when you weren’t filming?

A: I ran a lot; I ran to the great Van Morrison’s house, took a photo and ran back. I then ran to great George Best’s house, took a photo and then to the great Alex Higgins house and took another photo! The Belfast geniuses who were all in East Belfast. They were massive figures in my youth. I loved filming in Belfast!

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