I’ve been enjoying my commutes to work over the last week – away from the sounds of Chris Evans on Radio 2, and any other channel. The reason? I’ve had five CD’s to go through, from Radio 4 comedy drama ‘Love in Recovery’.
Published by Penguin Random House, Series 1 and 2 are now available in a 5 CD box set, and if you haven’t heard the show before, there’s almost five hours to enjoy.
The show has an outstanding cast (Sue Johnston, John Hannah, Eddie Marsan, Rebecca Front, Paul Kaye and Julia Deakin) – and the chemistry is there from the start. Each episode is set during a weekly Alcoholic Anonymous meeting. We hear their stories, we hear their highs… we hear their lows. We hear them laugh, and sometimes cry.
Eddie Marsan is Andy, the “self-appointed” group leader who you can always rely on to bring the biscuits.
Sue Johnston is Julie, who’s been known to have the odd relapse here and there, and everywhere, but had a husband who relied on drink – and one day, she decided to do just the same…
John Hannah is Simon, a snide journalist with a big secret.
Rebecca Front is the snobby and guarded Fiona, who used to be a banker who had it all, and then lost the lot.
Paul Kaye is Danno, a dodgy geezer with no front teeth, but a lot of heart.
I was fortunate enough to be able to ask writer Pete Jackson some questions about the show…
Love in Recovery has an outstanding cast – how easy was it to assemble the cast for the show?
The cast really are our dream cast and we were amazed and very very grateful when they all said yes. And they’ve been wonderful. They find layers in the scripts that aren’t always there in the writing (but which I always take credit for). And they’re all utterly lovely too! Infuriating isn’t it? I can’t act, and I’m a dick!
Series 1 consists of 6 x 15 minute episodes, with the first five all focusing on a different main character. From the Christmas Special onwards, the episodes increase in length to 30 minutes, what brought on the change in duration?
We increased the duration because we felt like we’d proved the show works and wanted an opportunity to tell more complex stories. In the first series, we covered how each of the characters had arrived in the room- and so for series two we wanted to focus on things happening in the present as well as the past- and link two, sometimes three stories in the same episode.
What has been your favourite episode so far? (Mine so far has to be the Christmas Special, which I listened to on the way to the office this morning, excellent).
My favourite episode so far has to be episode six of series 2, ‘The Wake’ because it was a story that’s quite personal to me, and I also managed to rope my whole family into singing at the end. And I gave my mum and my uncle Bill a line each- which they delivered with aplomb.
Are there plans for a third series?
I’m writing the third series as we speak (hence my rapid answers to these questions- they’ve been a very welcome distraction from trying to plot an episode). We’ll record later this year I think.
I’ve also been lucky enough to interview actor John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Marley’s Ghosts and Sliding Doors).
You play Simon in the series. How did you start preparing to play Simon when you first got the role?
I’ve had my share of issues over the years but the writing spoke of so much more than single issue problems. Putting oneself in that skin was, unfortunately all too familiar.
I used to attend GA meetings and the show has really managed to capture the sometimes claustrophobic atmosphere in those meetings. Is each show recorded in exactly the same way?
The show is recorded exactly like the meetings… In a church room. Maybe the biscuits are a bit better!
Apart from Simon, who is your favourite character in the show?
It may be a cliche but every character is so beautifully drawn and played. I love and feel for each one. As you know in every group there’s always a dick. I’m just happy they let me play with them- being the dick.
What has been your favourite episode to date of the series?
I honestly felt each story each episode took us on a journey of such beautiful discovery We really felt like we walked a mile in their shoes. I hope you enjoy the 2nd series. Pete and Ben managed to top their 1st series and I think that’s no mean feat.
‘Love in Recovery’ Series 1 and 2 is out now on CD from all good stockists. Buy it. You will not be disappointed. It will leave you wanting more. Chris