Sandylands interview - Sophie Thompson (Jeannie Swallows)

Sophie Thompson plays Jeannie, the put upon but loyal wife of Derek, with whom she runs the 'Swallows by the Sea' B&B in Sandylands.

Sophie Thompson (Jeannie Swallows)

What attracted you to Sandylands?

I just loved the script and all the maverick characters. The writers have created a curious world in this unique old English seaside town. These historic resorts offer up so many stories. Plus...I could be married to David Walliams. What more could a girl want frankly?

Talk us through the characters you and David play.

One feels that Jeannie and Derek have been together an inordinately long time. A childless couple running a B&B in Sandylands. They are incredibly overly keen, one could say invasive. That's especially true when Emily comes to stay. She's the daughter they never had.They have a lot of love to give. They're offering their guests that love - whether or not it's something people want is another matter. They're clearly a couple who, for a myriad of reasons, couldn't have children. Or who knows, perhaps they did have children... but at the point we find them, they are in some way just by themselves.

What other traits do Jeannie and Derek have?

They are local vigilantes. Derek rushes around with a hose protecting the neighbourhood. He's got a hose and he's not afraid to use it. Jeannie supports him on every level. She's the Starsky to his Hutch.

How did you find it working with David?

I simply loved working with David. I had worked on one of his projects before, Ratburger, but as is often the way - I didn't actually work with David on that. Getting to actually collaborate and be his wife was simply a joy for me.

What do we love about seaside resorts?

They resonate I think on such a profound level. The seaside represents our history as island dwellers. The coastline is our holidays. It taps into something quite deep and intrinsic in us. The seaside is so evocative. When you're there, you're literally on the edge. I popped down to Brighton the other day because I wanted to feel that edge. The seaside resorts underline our sense of being an island and it's quite odd, but also very brilliantly ordinary.

What was it like filming in Weston-super-Mare?

It was really lovely. Weston-super-Mare in the sunshine was beautiful. We saw it in all its slightly faded glory. We had a freak week in late autumn. It was like an Indian summer. It was so hot we were sweltering. The resort offers all the fun of the fair juxtaposed with a slight air of tattiness and messy humanity. I love that.

Did you enjoy working with this cast?

Oh gosh absolutely vividly. It's a corking cast. David is wonderful, Natalie is heaven. She and Harriet work so well together. Any job is a recipe - you never know if the cake will rise or go soggy. But this recipe felt tasty.

What did you like about working with the director, Michael Cumming?

He's a brilliant subtle director. He's worked on extraordinary, ground-breaking political comedy, and to have him on this was fantastic. He gave Sandylands a sense of its own world. He was very specific in creating the world. He gave it a weight and a darkness. That's always good in comedy I think.

How do you hope that audiences will react Sandylands?

I hope they find it funny, and are interested in the characters - that's the bottom line. I hope they enjoy the story and want to know more about that world and its people. I hope it floats a lot of boats. - After all that time by the sea, I have gone all nautical!

If it were recommissioned, would you be up for a second series of Sandylands?

Oh gosh definitely. We loved making it, playing those characters and endeavouring to bring them to life. I hope people find it a world that they want to spend time in. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that we can go back to Weston-super-Mare.