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Paradise lost in No Return

Paradise lost in No Return

Star Sheridan Smith, executive producer Nicola Shindler and screenwriter Danny Brocklehurst tell all about gripping new drama No Return

By Jon Billinge, Staff Writer

A dream holiday abroad with all the requisite sun, sea and sand sounds just the ticket right about now. But what if a sudden turn of events were to shift that dream scenario into a nightmare?


This is the predicament Kathy (Sheridan Smith) and Martin (Michael Jibson, Four Lives) find themselves in when their teenage son Noah (Louis Ashbourne Serkis, The Kid Who Would Be King) is accused of sexual assault while holidaying in Turkey.


Across four intense episodes, Kathy and Martin are forced to grapple with an unfamiliar legal system, spiralling legal costs and fast-growing media attention as they fight to save their son.


We heard from star Sheridan Smith, executive producer Nicola Shindler and screenwriter Danny Brocklehurst on what to expect ahead of the show’s debut on ITV.


It’s ordinary people in an extraordinary situation

Danny Brocklehurst: Obviously I’ve done quite a bit of this kind of thing over my career, especially with Ordinary Lies, which me and Nicola did together. Where you take ordinary people and push them into a very extreme, extraordinary situation, but hopefully one that’s reasonably recognisable.


I do the school run every morning with my youngest and I wanted to write about those families; ordinary people who take their kids to school and want the best for them. Who save up and go on a family holiday maybe once a year. I purposely designed the family to be very like people I know, and people I recognise. 


Nicola Shindler: I think the holiday [aspect] brings fun elements as well. It feels different and they’re acting differently because they’re abroad. And there is fun, whether it’s Michael’s character lying in the city fanning himself, because he’s so hot – in a freezing cold studio in Bolton – or just that enjoyment they have before everything goes wrong.


The drama gets intense

Sheridan Smith:
 When we filmed the scene of the police arresting Kathy and Martin’s son it was actually really horrible. We were in this little room and they had all of these supporting artists with guns playing the police officers. They barge in, push Kathy out of the way and get her son. It’s like, “What’s going on?” Kathy doesn’t speak the language so doesn’t understand them.


It was genuinely terrifying doing the scene. Let alone what it would be like in real life. It’s your worst nightmare as a parent. The family are just lost, basically, and [their lawyer] makes suggestions about how to deal with the police. It’s such an ordeal for them.


Serkis shines as 16-year-old Noah

NS: We auditioned quite a few young men that age and it’s always hardest in many ways to get children right, because you don’t want them to feel like they’re acting in stage school and you don’t want them to feel they’re giving nothing either.


Louis just blew us away. He was just extraordinary from the first reading and just feels very real. And I think, as well, that when you are working with someone like Sheridan, you can’t put other people around them who look like they’re acting in a different way. It has to be really grounded and it has to be really earthy. And thankfully they got on brilliantly from the off. 


Smith related closely to her character

SS: I read it and was gripped. It instantly gave me that jelly belly feeling of, “What would you do in that situation?”


Like Danny said, it’s ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. And Kathy is an amazing lead role. I was very honoured to be asked. She’s a great character: fiercely loyal, fiercely protective and someone I could relate to.


It’s not all doom and gloom

DB: I don’t think it's a grim, depressing drama. I think it’s tough in places, but it doesn’t feel like one of those relentless dramas. There are moments of levity, there are moments of hope. There’s a sort of strange romance in it.


NS: And that’s why having Sheridan play that part is so important as well, because she can bring humor and tragedy in the same sentence almost. And Kathy is big and bold and funny, and Sheridan doesn’t hold back from that.


SS: There’s a brilliant scene in a restaurant where Kathy shouts at everyone. And I remember filming that scene. It was hilarious. And right at the end she just goes “More wine!”


When is ITV’s No Return on TV?

No Return starts at 9pm on ITV HD (CH 103/113) on Monday 7 February.


If you miss any episode, it will also be available in Apps & Games > ITV Hub.

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