Sue Johnston in Lapland

Sue Johnston stars in a bittersweet comedy about a grieving Merseyside family going to Lapland for Christmas. She tells TV Choice more about the show, and also reveals how she likes to celebrate the festive season.

You play Eileen, the family’s mum. How would you describe her?
She’s very much a family woman but she’s also mouorning her dead husband, and trying hard to have a good time.

Is she finding it hard?
Yes, but she’s keeping it hidden for the sake of the kids. Obviously she loves her children and grandchildren. Of course, it’s all too much in the end.

Does she go on a spiritual journey, of sorts?
Yes, because the children keep dumping the grandchildren on her. She can’t get any sleep, because all the kids are in her bed. She’s absolutely exhausted. The one thing that she’s looking forward to is not cooking the Christmas lunch, but she ends up cooking all of the Christmas lunches for the whole of the hotel.

In the drama, the family want to see the Northern Lights. Have you ever seen them yourself?
Yes, I was on a plane, and I saw them coming back from Canada. They asked me if I wanted to go into the cockpit to see them. It was extraordinary.

Is it a moving experience to see them?
Yes, because it’s just one of those things of nature, that just take your breath away. It’s wonderful, and you don’t know why it’s there – although I’m sure scientists do. But for us ordinary folk it’s just this magnificent light show. Phenomenal.

What do you do at Christmas? Do you just spend it with your family?
Yes, family and close friends. After my dad died, that first Christmas was terrible. So I thought, ‘I’m never going through that again.’ So I started asking friends over. And it’s now a tradition that we all do Christmas together. Now there are wives and husbands as well, the group is growing bigger, and it’s lovely. I love it. My son and I cook the dinner – and we have goose and turkey.

Are you a good cook?
Yes. My son is as well.

Do you like to put your feet up, and let someone else cook for you at Christmas?
I much prefer doing it myself, but last year, my son had it for the first time in his new house – and we all went there. As long as we’re together, I don’t mind. But I don’t think I’d want to go away. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere hot for Christmas, and I don’t think I could do a Lapland Christmas either.

David Collins