Meet Queen Charlotte, the King's mother

We sat down with Annette Crosbie, who is set to be the King's mother in Henry IX

Annette Crosbie as Queen Charlotte, the King's Mother

Annette Crosbie as Queen Charlotte, the King's Mother

Can you please outline your character for us?

Queen Charlotte's very regal. Because she is determined to remain regal, she finds adapting to modern times very difficult. Her son is having a midlife crisis and wants to abdicate, and that is not something that Charlotte would ever consider in her wildest dreams.

How would you characterise Charlotte's relationship with Henry?

She's fond of him - he's her son after all. But they're not as cosy as most other families would be. She has a very strong idea of duty, and anything that deviates from that is not acceptable to her.

Is your character based on anyone in real life?

There are certain similarities with the Queen Mother. Charlotte bets on horses, and gin is mentioned. But Charlotte is not as jolly behind the scenes as the Queen Mother was.

What makes Dick and Ian so special as writers?

They have the rare gift of being able to make people laugh. It's very difficult to do. It's hard to tell if an audience will find comedy funny. People didn't get the first series of One Foot in the Grave until it was repeated. Similarly, when you perform a comedy in the theatre, one night it will get roaring laughs, and the next, nothing. You just can't predict it. But Dick and Ian are always capable of making us laugh. Henry IX is written to be entertaining, and it really is.

How have you found it working with Charles?

It's been great. I already had a connection with him. I first met him in 2000 when he was very young. We were both working with the marvellous Ian Richardson on a drama about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called Murder Rooms: Mysteries of the Real Sherlock Holmes. Charles played the young Conan Doyle. He was wonderful.

Why do you think we're so fascinated by the Royal Family?

It's natural. It's the same reason why we are fascinated by film stars. They have a glamour, and they're out of our reach. That's a great attraction. They're also an institution. We don't have religion much anymore to hang on to, but the Royal Family represent a very important sense of continuity. As long as they're there, it's a great reassurance to us. The Royal Family are always there as a totem for us. They have a consistency that we all cling onto. We know that they have difficulties like the rest of us, but they are always there doing their job.

What do you enjoy most about working on a production?

I love working with a group and having that whole feeling of being a unit. When I'm not acting, I'm not especially gregarious, so I really enjoy the sense of camaraderie you get on a set. I love the idea that we all here for the same reason, and seeing the same faces every day. There are laughs and jokes all day long. It's a huge family and I love it.