The event took place at the National Football Museum in Manchester, which is housed in the URBIS building, a unique piece of architecture in Cathedral Gardens. We (my Dad and I) arrived quite early to be sure of getting a good seat and we were second in the queue.
Before they opened questions to the audience, the chair asked a few of Peter, but there was nothing that he hadn’t already said in the press pack interview. Then the chair stole the question that I was going to ask Liz.
What was it being back in Manchester and filming with Phil after doing Life on Mars?
It was very different this time, it was quite a shock on the second day to have to… well I can’t say to much as you’ve not seen that bit yet, but stuff happens. In Mars I played his subordinate for two years so was nice to be his equal in terms of the relationship. I think we bored a lot of the production company though because every time we went to a new location we’d be pointing out places along the way saying, ‘Do you remember we went there for Life on Mars?’
And you’re filming with Philip Glenister at the moment right?
Yeh, but we’re filming something very different. It’s a series called Big School. I’m not playing his son in that though, which he’s very relieved about. He was furious that I’d been cast as his son and that his character was going to have grandkids and stuff! But yeh, he’s well – I’ll give him your regards.
It all looks very realistic; it looks like the Arndale looked then. How did you do that? Did you recreate a physical Arndale or is it CGI?
The answer was that it was a bit of both. The debris etc. that is seen on the floor was all recreated in a street in the Northern Quarter but then the tech guys super-imposed some photos etc. into it as well, to give the most realistic view possible.
Liz was asked what attracted her to the part of Joanne and she said, that she doesn’t need help or ‘saving’; she’s capable of managing on her own with her two boys. That jumped off the page to her and as such, she is very confident in playing her as she feels she knows here.
Daniel was asked why he took the job. He said it was for the money and the chair pressed him – was the script good? Looking at the writer sat two chairs down he nodded and said that yes it was very good. Then he stopped joking and said it was the quality of the script and, having worked with Peter Bowker before, he knew it would be good.
There were a couple of questions about how they think the show will be received.
Peter said he wasn’t sure but hopefully it would be positive. He said what he actually hoped for more than that was that people would watch all three hours before making any judgements on it, because with TV they do tend to make judgements after only one episode, but you wouldn’t read a third of a novel and make an over-arching judgement about it. He said with Twitter and other social media platform people are starting to make judgements even quicker (i.e. in the first 5 minutes) which can be really difficult but that you can’t think about that when writing. You’ve got to write what is true to you and let the audience decide.
Someone asked if they thought the show, being set in Manchester and being about Manchester, would appeal to southern places such as Essex and Norwich.
The team thought that it would because when they watch something set in a different place, it’s fine as long as the sense of that place is strong. If it seems like it could be set anywhere in the country, that when they find that they’re not as engaged in the show. And also, it’s about a family and those problems and situation are universal… families exist everywhere in the country and most have problems/secrets.
The chair then ended the Q&A by telling us that the show would air ‘at the end of May’ on BBC and that also it was to be accompanied by a BBC Four documentary about the writer ‘Peter Bowker’ which we also got a preview clip of. That will air on Sunday 18th May at 9.30pm and will feature contributions from Phil and Daniel.
Afterwards, I spoke with both Daniel and Liz and they were both really friendly. Daniel said it was the first time they’d seen the episode, so it was really nice to see how it had all come together and he thought it looked good. I explained that, being a local like him, I thought it was fab. He mentioned that he was going to the BAFTA screening tomorrow and then was back filming a couple of days on Big School. I told him I thought his description of Charlie in the Q&A was spot on (he called him a well-meaning tw*t) and he said, ‘well he is a bit isn’t he?’. He signed my ticket and after a quick thank you and goodbye, I made my way over to Liz.
Liz congratulated us on getting tickets – she said it sounded like there’d been a lot of interest (the chair said that they'd had over 3,500 applications for tickets). I said we were really glad we did and had really enjoyed the first episode; she agreed, saying it had come out really well. I told her I’d seen them filming a scene which had been in the episode (in the aftermath of the bomb) and it was interesting to see it after the edit. I told her I was sure it would be a big success. I told her I was a big fan of Life on Mars and Phil and she said it was a shame that he couldn’t come up for the screening but he was filming. I asked would he be at the BAFTA Screening in London tomorrow (because our other admin is going to that). She said yes, she thought he would be. I asked her for a quick photo and my Dad said, “Do you want me to take it, or are you doing a selfie?” I said I thought it would be best if he took it and Liz agreed. “Selfies are so passé.” So we had a photo and also signed my ticket before we said goodbye.