Skip to main content

“I’ve not done anything like this before”

“I’ve not done anything like this before”

Stars Imelda Staunton and Russell Tovey talk twisty new ITV drama Flesh And Blood

Families, eh? They can be testing at the best of times, but what happens when that unique familial bond is threatened like never before?

Flesh And Blood, Monday 24 February, 9pm, ITV/HD (CH 103/113). Also available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > ITV

That’s the question at the heart of ITV’s brilliantly addictive new four-part drama Flesh And Blood.


When the recently widowed Vivien (Cranford’s Francesca Annis) falls in love with the mysterious retired GP, Mark (The Honourable Woman’s Stephen Rea), it looks as if Vivien has found happiness once again after putting everything on hold to care for her late husband in their home on the gorgeous East Sussex coast.


Her three adult children, Helen (Lark Rise To Candleford’s Claudie Blakley), Jake (Russell Tovey, Years And Years), and Natalie (Gentleman Jack’s Lydia Leonard), don’t see things quite the same way. Instead, these contrasting siblings are suspicious about what their mum’s new man is up to.

But as they attempt to discover more about Mark, devastating family secrets come to the fore – including some home truths about their late father. And with their own lives not exactly full of cheer (addiction, affairs, financial problems), it all makes for a rather combustible mix.


The siblings aren’t the only ones keeping a close eye on Mark, either. Vivien’s neighbour and close friend, Mary (A Confession’s Imelda Staunton), is naturally curious about the new fella’s intentions. But is there more to Mary’s curtain-twitching than first appears?


Created and written by Sarah Williams (Poppy Shakespeare), Flesh And Blood is a compellingly dark drama about the unique relationships within families and the extremes people are prepared to go to when that dynamic is endangered.


Want to know more about the show? Here, stars Imelda Staunton and Russell Tovey talk Flesh And Blood and much more…


Imelda Staunton

Flesh And Blood star Imelda Staunton

On watching Flesh And Blood back…

“I’m pleased with it. I wanted to keep watching it, and I know it – which is quite a good sign. I didn’t think I’d done anything quite like this before. As they go on, you learn about everyone. It’s quite interesting to watch all of these messy lives. They’re really well-drawn characters, all of them.”


On playing Mary...

“Mary’s a pretty ordinary woman. A little bit overprotective, one might think. I don’t think she’s weird, which might make me weird. Vivien has other people; Mary has only got Vivien. Mary is genuinely happy that Vivien has got someone, but she doesn’t want it to interrupt their own friendship. I think she’s frightened.”


On filming around the East Sussex coast…

“On television you pretty much go in, do your bit and then go home. It’s funny, because when you’re filming away from home you can never treat it as a holiday. There’s always a work thing going in your head. It’s not a jolly – really!”


On what she looks for in a role…

“You look for a good script and then a part you might not have played before. But the first thing is the script. Every script is different. On television you’re also in people’s sitting rooms. It’s different to doing film. If you’re doing lots of television you’ve got to be careful (of people becoming overfamiliar with you).”


On theatre versus filming…

“I like doing both theatre and filming. I go wherever the job is. They’re both different disciplines and they demand different energy. It’s good to be shaken up a bit and frightened again. I like to be frightened. Theatre is much harder on your life. The energy and the commitment to the discipline… it’s a different ball game. And that’s wonderful.”


On the state of British telly…

“It’s extremely healthy. The things that are being written now, even compared to ten years ago, are amazing. People are loving it and lapping it up, and people are putting money into it. It’s also taken over from film, in a way. It’s a bit of a golden age, I think.”


Russell Tovey

Flesh And Blood star Russell Tovey

On playing a loveable idiot…

“They’re the best characters. They frustrate you, but you want to give them a cuddle. If Jake was on the night bus, drunk, you’d get off. He’s like the most popular boy at school who didn’t do well academically, had loads of mates, was really sporty, and never really grew up. He’s definitely an example of when men get to their 30s and they drift. They can’t find their way back.”


On toxic masculinity…

“Characters like Jake have been enabled through life to act like a kid. I think that’s a problem for a lot of people. No one’s talking. No one’s breaking it down, but I think we’re more aware about mental health issues with men now. I think people will recognise a lot of themselves or people they know in Jake.”


On families…

“I’m drawn to relationships between siblings. I find it fascinating when you go to someone else’s family and you see how they live their life. It can feel quite alien to your own. I think people are going to love the characters, particularly the siblings.”


On how he knows if a script is good…

“I can usually tell within ten pages. You start reading it and you think, “I like that line. I like that line. That’s cool. I want to do it.” It’s an instinct thing. You’ve got to do what you believe in.”


On reading his own reviews…

“I read theatre reviews. If I’m doing a play I’ll read the reviews. If it’s a nice review, my publicist will forward something on. It can be dangerous, though. I watch my TV stuff when it goes out and I like to watch things back when I’m filming. I’ve been doing this since I was 11 so I don’t know if I’ve mastered the ability to separate myself from my work. Some people can’t bear it.”


On being a workaholic…

“I’ve started writing more. I’ve got two shows in development at the moment. I’ve also got my own podcast. I’m going to Broadway to do a play next year. It’s exciting. I’m busy. You’ve just got to keep going. I do have to be forced to go away on holiday.”


When is Flesh And Blood on TV?

You can watch the first episode of Flesh And Blood at 9pm on Monday 24 February on ITV/HD (CH 103/113). Also available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > ITV Hub.

You might also like

TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.

HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box or Virgin TV V6 connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.

ITV HD is subject to regional variation. ITV HD is not available where STV HD or UTV HD is available.

Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.

Interviews: Any opinions expressed in interviews are those of the interview subject and not those of Virgin Media.