Recommended second chance
Joanna Page stars with Tom Ellis as parents Helen and Mark. The pair desperately try to avoid getting mixed up with the other parents, and their after school activities, when they move to a new area, and their daughter starts a new school. Joanna tells TV Choice more about the comedy…
So what’s Gates about?
Helen is an estate agent and a mother who has decided to go back to work. She’s given over the responsibility of her daughter and the school run to her husband, although she’s finding that incredibly difficult to do. I just see that she’s like every woman. I think women watching will identify with her. Also, Helen is quite tough, feisty and madly in love with her husband Mark.
Helen is quite nervous giving the school run to Mark, and in the first episode advises him not to look at the other parents and get involved…
Yes. Helen is very much, ‘Let’s get into the school, let’s get out.’ Don’t talk to anybody because you get dragged in and involved in all of the school stuff. I don’t have any children but talking to all the guys that do, it seems pretty true. I’d say that Helen is so much like me. I was reading the first episode and I’m so anti-social! I think people think that with me and my husband (ex Emmerdale actor James Thornton) that I’m always the life and soul of the party and he’s quiet and anti-social, but it is the other way around. When we go home I’m just like, ‘I don’t want to talk to or see anybody.’ He’s always much more bubbly than me.
Apart from being anti-social, is there anything else in Helen that you identify with?
Yeah. I think I’d probably be quite like her as a mum because she is pretty strong, tough and feisty, and she’s got a good sense of humour. I imagine that I would like her as my friend.
What’s it been like working with Sue Johnston on Gates?
Lovely. I worked with Sue on a play called The Mysteries at the National Theatre in the Millennium so it’s really lovely to work with her again. She’s just a joy and really funny. Even though I know her, and I’ve worked with her before, I still think, ‘Oh my God! It’s Sue Johnston.’ I look at her and think of all the work that she’s done, so I was still quite scared and wanted to impress her.
Has being surrounded by the children on Gates made you feel broody?
Oh yes because they are so adorable. I’ve always thought I’d be quite good with little babies.
What do you think you will be like when you turn up to the school gates for real?
I think I’ll dread it because I won’t want to get involved with doing all the cakes. I’ll probably be the sort of mum that within the first week will be baking all of the cakes, then give me a week and I’ll be in Waitrose buying stuff and passing it off as my own. I will be drawn into competing with people. I’ll be the type that turns up, hair in a ponytail, no make-up on and probably still in my pyjamas — I won’t be all glamorous!
How have you coped with the attention since making Gavin & Stacey?
It’s funny, now I’m in my thirties what I love doing is staying in the house playing board games and cooking. It’s not like I go out. I suppose it would be completely different if people were recognising you in your early twenties when I was going out clubbing or whatever. I’d probably be out all the time having a right laugh. Now I just think it’s funny because I’ve been working for so many years and seen how hard it is and you end up in a show like that. None of it means anything. It’s nice when people say, ‘Oh we love the show’, and sometimes when you’re out and about people will recognise you, but most of the time I have my head down when I’m walking around and don’t look at anybody. Although, the other day I was in Top Shop and the queue was really long. Then one of the shop assistants came up and said, ‘I’ll open this till, just go to the end.’ I thought it was for everybody and I walked along and she went to do mine. I said, ‘Do you realise I’m at the end of the queue?’ and she said, ‘Yes I know. We’ll just do you.’ I thought, ‘Oh my God don’t look at anybody else.’ I couldn’t go, ‘No let everybody else go first.’ I thought, ‘I have been waiting for ages. I do quite like this.’ So every now and then a perk comes along that I think is quite nice!
Do you wish you had had this fame in your twenties?
Not really because I probably would have gone mental and been out clubbing all the time and having a laugh. It’s quite nice because I remember going to a psychic in my mid-twenties and she told me that my acting career would be over by the age of 30, and that I’d probably become a writer or something. Honest to God it did stay with me, and I did Gavin & Stacey when I was 29. Then I remember getting to my 30th birthday and being like, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’ Then I thought about it all the way up until I turned 31, and then I thought, ‘I’m still working, she must have been wrong.’ So it’s quite nice that it’s happened now.
Do you think Gavin & Stacey will ever come back?
I don’t think we will ever do another series. When we finished the third one we were all devastated and couldn’t stop crying. But I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a couple of years, James Corden and Ruth Jones said, ‘Oh come on let’s do a Christmas special.’
And would you be up for that?
Oh yeah. I think we all would. I think we would all love to meet up for three weeks and just go, ‘Let’s have a laugh again.’ I would just love to meet up with them again for three weeks, stay in the hotel, have a chat with everyone because it was just really good fun.
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