The day Aisling Bea found out she had won a Bafta Craft award last year, she was knocked off her bike and felt lucky to be alive.
“It definitely put the Baftas in perspective,” recalls the 37-year-old Kildare-born comedian, actress and writer. “The prizes were virtual, due to the lockdown, so I won watching him in my scarf and flip flops, out in the garden with a few friends – and it ended up feeling a lot more special as a result.”
Breakthrough Talent’s victory was for his work on This way up, which she created and in which she also plays. She plays the main character, Irish immigrant Aine, who teaches English as a Foreign Language (Tefl) in London.
The first series of the uplifting and moving Channel 4 comedy saw Aine leave rehab and attempt to rebuild her life – with the help of her sister Shona (Sharon Horgan) – following a “little nervous breakdown “.
The six new episodes pick up on the finale of the first series, and there are many more ups and downs for the couple, from Aine’s complicated situation with one of her employers, Richard (Tobias Menzies), to the nuptials. upcoming Shona with Vish (Aasif Mandvi) – whom she saw, despite that stolen kiss with her business partner, Charlotte.
Expect plenty of brilliantly hilarious sibling scenes – again, This way up focuses on Aine and Shona’s unwavering bond and how they’ve always kept up with each other, even in the darkest of times.
Another reason the first series resonated so much with viewers was its authentic exploration of themes such as loneliness and vulnerability.
Mental health is an issue Bea has already discussed in her stand-up routines, and in 2017, she also wrote an article for The Guardian on her father, who committed suicide when she was three years old.
Asked what she hopes people get out of series two, the star – real name Aisling Cliodhnadh O’Sullivan – said: “Really, I hope if you’ve had a lockdown or a year difficult, hope you feel seen, hope you feel hopeful and like it’s worth fighting and trying.
“I hope you identify with the show and see that there is value and nobility in the middle of health, where you don’t have to be a millionaire to be a good person or to have a good life, and you’re not supposed to be happy all the time, but that’s okay. “
Horgan – known for shows such as Pulling and Disaster, which she also co-wrote – agrees with that sentiment. “I think there is a real message of hope in there,” suggests the 50-year-old Irish star.
“It’s impactful when it needs to be, but even when there are difficult topics being discussed or scenes being acted out, there is a message of hope.
“This show sends a message to hold on to life, because it’s precious. I think maybe after the year we’ve all had, it’s a good message to get across.”
Bea, who has appeared on most of the major UK panels, and also had a role in the hit drama ITV Quiz last year, confides that “turning the show in winter during a national lockdown was incredibly difficult on several levels”.
“But one moment, I remember laughing, it was with my brilliant makeup artist Lisa Kennedy who also did the first series. She kept me sane during the shoot and when we were shooting the sauna scene. , which is the opening of episode one, Lisa had to cover me in red makeup to make me look hot and sweaty in the sauna.
“And because there was a bang from above, that included painting my ass red, so I was on all fours in a swimsuit during the winter in a pandemic time, as they were wearing medical masks and painted my ass red. “
The show is being directed by Merman, Horgan’s production company with Clelia Mountford, and everything took longer, due to strict health and safety guidelines.
“Making sure our cast and crew were absolutely safe, on and off set, was a priority,” Horgan continues. “But the people who were in the production lost loved ones, and there were times when it was overwhelming to go through that and just try to ‘go to work. Plus, the whole team had their faces covered – so you can’t see smiles – created a distance. It was rather strange and difficult. “
Covid-19 also affected part of the show’s narrative. Mandvi was in New York at the time of filming and couldn’t make it back to the UK, so this series sees Vish and Shona having to walk long distances, while he’s overseas to work, putting on the show – which is Also airing in the US this month on Hulu – a more international vibe.
“I think it worked really well and it helped foreshadow what was to come,” Horgan notes. “In the series, the pandemic hasn’t hit, but it’s just around the corner. The distance between Vish and Shona and the fact that their relationship only took place over the phone and online added to the relevance of the show. “
Asked about her favorite Shona moment, Horgan teases an upcoming scene in series two where Shona and Aine try on wedding dresses.
“She and Aine get a little drunk while trying on different styles and they’re giddy – it was so real. I never did this for my own wedding because I got married in a suit – like Shona did. foresees in the end – which could have impacted the scene. “
It certainly wasn’t a difficult process for the dynamic duo to return to these roles after a two-year hiatus between the playoffs.
“I know how she walks, talks and dresses very easily, I know her by heart,” Bea says of Aine. “I know all of my characters a lot better now than I knew him in the first series.”
It was easy for Horgan to find the essence of Shona: “She’s not that far from who I am, but she has an extra layer of neurosis, because of her sister’s situation.
“And then, of course, there are the jokes between the sisters. That’s what Shona exists for, bouncing off her Groin, her sister – it makes it so easy to slip into her world.”
This way up returns to Channel 4 on Wednesday July 14.
Source: Press association
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