Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Cast Aside Ideas of a Cosy Costume Drama ; Make a Date for the Making of A Lady, a Period Drama with a Dark Heart. Lisa Williams Talks to the Cast - Including Joanna Lumley as a Woman with Absolutely No Redeeming Qualities

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Cast Aside Ideas of a Cosy Costume Drama ; Make a Date for the Making of A Lady, a Period Drama with a Dark Heart. Lisa Williams Talks to the Cast - Including Joanna Lumley as a Woman with Absolutely No Redeeming Qualities

Article excerpt

THE Making Of A Lady is a new one-off period drama set at the turn of the 20th century and based on a book by Cheetham Hill-born writer author Frances Hodgson Burnett, who wrote The Secret Garden.

There are stately home settings, corsets aplenty and Joanna Lumley playing an acerbic lady of the manor.

But it's not a frothy period drama. Rather, it's an unconventional love story which develops into a gripping psychological thriller.

The love story is between Lord James Walderhurst and Emily, the maid of his snobbish aunt, Lady Maria Byrne. Emily is pretty, educated and longs for a family, but has no means of her own, while Lord Walderhurst is a wealthy widower with no children. He decides to propose to her in the hope that love might blossom between them.

"It doesn't sound romantic but it's beautifully written," says Titanic and Coronation Street star Linus Roache (son of Ken Barlow actor William Roache), who plays Lord Walderhurst.

"These people get married for pragmatic reasons, and yet there's the potential of, 'Will they love each other? Will it work?' It's beautifully drawn."

Though Lady Maria is appalled at the decision, Lord Walderhurst thinks it might work.

"He sees a depth in Emily and a woman who's smart, intelligent and independent. He admires her independence, which is quite interesting for a man of that era," says Roache. 'There nothing loving remotely kindly about aunt' "He's not looking for a wife who'll just be dutiful and be in the background. He responds to the fact that she's her own woman and I think he's attracted to that."

Lydia Wilson, who plays Emily and is in nearly every scene of the drama, thinks there's more to their decision to marry than pure economics.

"I think both of them have an instinct about this, which transcends the practical and, even though they don't know it at the time, it makes her say yes. She thinks she can have a connection with this person," says the actress.

"I think that even though she doesn't know it at the time, she's making a decision from her heart as well as her head."

this " But there are certainly obstacles in the way of their happy ending. Firstly, the couple have Lady Mary to contend with. Played by a starklooking Lumley, Lord Walderhurst's aunt has no redeeming qualities at all.

"The most sympathetic thing that you could say about Lady Maria Byrne is that she probably wasn't loved as a child," says Lumley.

"That might explain why she has absolutely no affection for anybody else and never has had."

The normally glamorous actress, who was happy to have her face powdered with a flourlike substance to get the right "ghastly look" for her character, adds: "When her nephew returns from serving in the army in India he's had a wretched time.

"His wife has died and he could do with some consolation and kindness from his aunt, Lady Byrne. …

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