April 20, 2009

TWO SEASONS OUGHT TO SUFFICE:

Interview: Keeley Hawes on Ashes to Ashes: Last year Life on Mars 80s spin-off Ashes to Ashes arrived on our screens to some less-than-favourable reviews of its new star Keeley Hawes. She tells us how she overcame a critical lashing. (Benji Wilson, 17 Apr 2009, Daily Telegraph)

Hawes’s arrival as Gene Hunt’s new sparring partner, following John Simm’s Seventies sojourn in Life on Mars, displeased a lot of people from the outset. Reviews of Ashes to Ashes when it began last year fêted the gloriously unreconstructed Hunt once again, but criticised both the character of Drake and Hawes’s performance, often blurring the line between the two.

‘I don’t think I’d ever had a bad word said before, so it was very unpleasant,’ says Hawes. ‘At one point somebody had written, “It’s clear that the other cast members do not like this actress.” But their characters are supposed to not like Alex Drake when she arrives. We’re acting! The cast were all coming over to my house for lunch and I had to say, “I have got a bit upset by all of this – you do like me, don’t you?”’

While she received encouraging letters from many women, as well as public support from Philip Glenister, who plays Hunt, most of the criticism came from men.

‘They didn’t like that Alex was coming in and shouting at Gene Hunt in a way they didn’t think was acceptable,’ she says. ‘I didn’t realise how tabloidy the show was either.

In the Mirror they have pictures of him [Hunt] with his head on the Prime Minister’s body – he can do no wrong. I wasn’t aware of that. Foolishly. Otherwise I never would have gone.’

If by ‘gone’ she means she never would have joined the show because of all the tabloid scrutiny, it has at least, she says, helped her to grow a thick skin. ‘Now I think it was probably one of the best things that can happen to me because nothing can ever get to me again,’ she says. ‘The worst thing that can happen, happened.’

And it’s Hawes who has had the last laugh: a third series of Ashes to Ashes has already been commissioned. Then, just as with Life on Mars, that will be that.

‘Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah [the creators of Ashes to Ashes] have always said it was a story that would last three series and then be wrapped up,’ she says.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 20, 2009 6:36 AM
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