The Cockfields: Diane Morgan interview

A long-time collaborator with Joe Wilkinson (the pair form the sketch group, Two Episodes of Mash), Diane is also a stand-out in superb sitcom Motherland and takes incredulous stupidity to new levels as her comedy persona Philomena Cunk. We caught up with her to find out about her experiences on The Cockfields.

The Cockfields: Diane Morgan interview

Tell us a bit about your character.

So it's the first time I've been to stay with Simon's parents on the Isle of Wight. We are all a bit nervous and on our best behaviour. Simon's family are a little bit mad but I don't really know that yet, I quickly find out they are not normal.

And what is your reaction to that?

Bemused, amused.

That is a scenario most people will be familiar with so do you think it will resonate with people?

Definitely. Everyone thinks their family is weird. Sue plays the mum and I think she plays everyone's mum, fussing over you relentlessly. And there's a new brother-in-law to deal with in David, a stepdad in Ray. It's a modern family so I think everyone will be able to identify with it.

How would you describe the tone?

When I used to work with Joe, all of our sketches were described as 'mundane but surreal'. Both of us like that kind of humour - based in reality, boring and mundane but with something really weird thrown in. I always think that is the funniest thing.

How did you enjoy working with the rest of the cast?

I knew quite a few of them - Sue, from Rovers - it's always going to be a nice job when Sue's involved. I knew Bobby from Mount Pleasant, Joe and David from the stand-up circuit. I'd never met Sarah or Nigel so that was nice. Bobby makes a big difference. Throw him into the mix and it is a whole different job! There is a lot of larking about.

Did you get to go to the Isle of Wight? What does the setting add to the series?

I did, but only for a day - most of it was filmed in Surrey. I don't think anything has been filmed on the Isle of Wight. I can't think of anything that was set there. The show might be good for tourism but it also may have an adverse effect so we shall see which way it goes. People may stop going! I had never been before and it is beautiful. It's amazing and it was nice to visit.

Do you think David's obsession with celebrities will resonate with audiences?

Oh definitely and Ben's character, David, is such an oddball. There are these people who are obsessed with celebrity culture. He does it in a sweet way, not in a creepy stalker way, he just genuinely loves celebrities.

Did you ever meet any celebrities who made you starstruck when you were a kid?

Most of my heroes were dead - Tony Hancock, Laurel & Hardy, and Peter Sellers - so I admired them through the TV set. But I did get to meet Spike Milligan. It takes a lot for me to be like, 'Oh my God'.

And have you had any over eager fans yourself?

I was recognised when I was having a smear test by the nurse, between the legs! She looked at me and asked if I have been in twice this week. I said 'no' but she kept asking and said I looked really familiar so she asked what I did. I told her I am an actress and she said, 'What have you been in?', and I was like, 'Can we not talk about this now?' I can just imagine her going home that evening saying, 'Guess whose fanny I looked inside today?'

What are your best and worst experiences of meeting a partner's family?

They have always been really nice! There's always one person your partner is nervous about you meeting - like, 'Oh, you don't want to meet my auntie Nora', in case you suddenly go, 'Your family is too weird, I'm out, it's all off'. It's quite a personal experience. It is like you are laying all your cards on the table and saying, 'This is me, these are my people - do you still want to go out with me?'

What is the longest you can cope with your family before you get itchy feet?

I think, because my partner and I have been going out a while now, we are past that stage but initially it was a couple of days before we started to feel the strain of having to put on an act for that long.

Eventually you get to know them better and you can relax and be yourself but initially it is a strain so two days max and then have a break.