Julie Hesmondhalgh with Dawn French in a scene from "The Trouble with Maggie Cole".
Picture: Supplied
Julie Hesmondhalgh with Dawn French in a scene from "The Trouble with Maggie Cole". Picture: Supplied

Dawn French ruffles feathers in 'The Trouble with Maggie Cole'

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published May 3, 2020

Share this article:

Dawn French is best remembered for tickling the funny bone in French and Saunders and The Vicar of Dibley. 

The 62-year-old actress is back on the small screen, this time in a more dramatic role as a medium in ITV Choice’s "The Trouble with Maggie Cole". 

In the show, French, cast as Maggie Cole, finds herself in a heap of trouble with the townsfolk from her close-knit seaside village for revealing more about them than she should have in an interview on a radio show. Not only is she forced to face the music but she also has to manage the fallout from unintentionally revealing a few dark family secrets, too.

Peeling back the layers of her character, French shared: “She’s got a high opinion of herself, let’s put it that way.

But I think she’s the kind of person who’s like that because she actually is the opposite. She has a low opinion of herself. She feels like she doesn’t matter very much and Maggie wants to matter.

“So when she’s asked if she would like to do an interview for a local radio she couldn’t think of anything better. It ticks all the boxes. Suddenly someone is listening to her. Somebody thinks that she matters. In fact, they don’t think that. The journalist does not think that she matters at all. He thinks that she’s the conduit to the  gossip in the village and indeed she is.”

The cast of "The Trouble with Maggie Cole". Picture: Supplied

Maggie finds herself in a moral dilemma afterwards.

She added: "In a way, Maggie is betrayed by the journalist but she also led herself into that, so there is some responsibility for her to take. Before all that happens, though, Maggie has got a funny, lovely, ordinary marriage. 

"She and her husband have a son who is married and a slightly spiky daughter-in-law. They’re just a family muddling along. But Maggie is somebody who interferes. She’s got a need to control things. 

"I think many of us will recognise that. She was born and raised in this village so she knows all the families and knows everybody’s business and she likes it like that.”

On working alongside Julie Hesmondhalgh, who plays her best friend, the seasoned actress shared: “That’s the good thing about this trade actually, at moments like this these worlds can collide. You’ve admired somebody from afar and thought, ‘I love that actress. I’m sure they’d be great. I like their politics. 

"I like their attitude. I like everything that they’ve done. I’m sure I’d like that person’. Then you need to find a best friend for a part and you think, ‘Oh God, wouldn’t it be great it was her?’ I was really chuffed when she said yes.”

Interestingly, she’s not as active as Jennifer Saunders on social media despite having a huge fan base. 

She laughed: “I’m not really on it except for Twitter, Jennifer Saunders encouraged me to go on that. She said I’d have fun on it because there are lots of good jokes. That’s really why I do it. I’m also aware that there is some of my work that is hard to let people know about. 

"There’s an in-built system. When you write a novel or do a play or a one-woman show there is no such thing. You need to let people know. 

"To be able to tell the very people who have got an interest in you – that’s all it is, an immediate connection to people who are interested in you – I like that. But I wouldn’t ever want to be just selling on social media. 

"I think if you’re going to be on it you need to entertain people a bit or connect properly.”

*"The Trouble with Maggie Cole" kicks off with back-to-back episodes on ITV Choice (DStv channel 123) on Thursday May 7 at 8pm.

Share this article:

Related Articles