Tell us about Caroline. What sort of life has she had?
She’s a headmistress and mother to two boys. She’s very academic, holding a chemistry degree from Oxford. We sort of meet her character in reverse as she’s dealing with the breakdown of her marriage to John who then returns to ask for a second chance. We can see that she once loved him; I suspect she was charmed by his love of words, he was a romantic who balanced her out. I can see why she was attracted to him. But the promise he had shown as a young novelist, sort of withered and she outgrew him. She realises that the discontentment she felt as a teenager has re-emerged and she isn’t being true to herself. She needs to rediscover an aspect of her character that was there when she was younger and we see her true character emerge. She just wants to be true to herself and embarks on a relationship with someone at school.
So why do you think she agrees to take John back?
Her bark is much worse than her bite and I think there’s an element of her that feels he simply made a mistake. And although she says it’s ok for him to come back the relationship can’t continue, not because he ruined it but because it was already ruined. She has a real love for him but she’s not being honest with herself. She’s spent so many years having to conform, denying to the outside world who she really is, I think taking him back is her trying to keep that up.
What’s her relationship like with her mum?
They live side by side and there’s undoubtedly a deep love and respect between them but Caroline, being such a high achiever, needs order and control. She can be a very prickly, arrogant woman – it’s her defence. As a public figure head she’s used to building scaffolding around herself, but take that away and she crumbles. Although her mum irritates her, the thought of losing her terrifies Caroline, so as her mum’s relationship with Alan develops and she starts to lead her own life, Caroline feels that she’s lost the equilibrium of her life and this leads to conflict. But humour sits at the heart of their conflict and they really do need each other.
How does she feel about her mum reuniting with Alan?
Anything left field or out of the ordinary just completely throws Caroline. When her mother first reunites with Alan she’s fine as it’s just a friendship, she’s actually pleased her mum has a companion. But her shock on hearing that they’re getting married is completely genuine, knowing her mother of old she thinks she swings with the wind and that this is just a moment of madness. But remarkably, it’s her mother’s relationship with Alan, a relationship that wouldn’t ordinarily be deemed by society to be conventional, that gives Caroline what she sees as ‘permission’ to finally admit to being who she really is.
Does Caroline remind you of yourself in anyway?
Yes, in the respect she’s a working woman trying to keep everything under control – at least to the outside world!
What made you want to be part of Last Tango In Halifax?
I read the first two scripts and within two pages I knew it was very special. Sally’s writing was immaculate, Anne was on board, Derek was on board, to be part of a piece that has beautiful writing, consummate actors and a story that is genuinely heart-warming but with real humour – it was a privilege to be part of.