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TV Interview

Neil Morrissey 'Me and Mrs Jones' Q&A: 'Doing this was a no-brainer'

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Me and Mrs Jones: Jason (Neil Morrissey)

© BBC / Hartswood Films/Laurence Cedrowicz

BBC One's new family comedy Me and Mrs Jones has attracted an all-star cast - Coupling's Sarah Alexander plays Mrs Jones, a mother of three who's torn between two male admirers - the suave Tom (Nathaniel Parker) and the charming young Billy (Robert Sheehan).

Playing the ex-husband of Mrs Jones is the legendary Neil Morrissey, who spoke to Digital Spy about his role as the childish Jason, his comedy credentials and why he enjoyed dipping into drama with recent BBC Two cop thriller Line of Duty...

What is Me and Mrs Jones about and how does your character Jason fit into it all?
"Right, well the basic premise is... Sarah Alexander - she is Gemma, Mrs Jones. I'm her ex husband, of it would seem quite a few years. She has an older son by a different liaison and then we have twin daughters between us. Our marriage is obviously over and I no longer live in the family home, although I haven't lost all proprietary feelings towards it.

"Mrs Jones is on the market as it were, and in episode one we see the local DILF from school (Nathaniel Parker) ask her out on a date. Then that evening the son arrives back home from his world travels with one of his really good mates - this young gorgeous Irish boy played by Robert Sheehan, who also takes a shining to Mrs Jones...

"So she stands torn between the romance of the two guys, with me - the ex-husband - constantly getting under her feet. I'm like an extra problem for her - as well as the tough family life, keeping up with her family home and juggling jobs, she also has me to deal with."

How would you describe Jason's relationship with Mrs Jones? Is there still a spark between them?
"There's no spark between them, it's definitely over. But then he does behave like an extra child, so she has to deal with his emotional naivety and childlessness. She has to deal with my relationship as well, because I bring my woes to her while she brings no real woes to me at all. I'm also fairly critical of her relationship with the DILF - she has all that to deal with, me being a small thorn in her side."

Me and Mrs Jones: Jason (Neil Morrissey)

© BBC / Hartswood Films/Laurence Cedrowicz



Jason has another woman in his life, hasn't he?
"Yeah, Jason's now living with his new love, who is a Swedish beauty, played by Vera Filatova. She's absolutely fantastic, she's really funny."

How does Jason feel about all these new men in Gemma's life?
"My character knows nothing of the young boy, he only knows about the older guy. Jealousy wouldn't be the right word, but he thinks she is dating a knob and he doesn't mind telling her - in fact, he comes out with it in episode one, 'Who's the knob in the Range Rover?' She's quite pleased to tell him she's got a date, but he doesn't like the idea. He just thinks he's a knob."

Gemma and Jason have kids together - is he a good dad or is he quite irresponsible?
"No, he's a good father to the twins. He's irresponsible to the point where he is still slightly childish, but he loves the kids and he gets on great with them and they get on great with him - that's one thing in [his and Gemma's] relationship that they've preserved, you'll see that's a good thing."

Me and Mrs Jones: Jason (Neil Morrissey)

© BBC / Hartswood Films/Laurence Cedrowicz



You've done some great comedy shows in the past. Does that make you more picky when it comes reading new comedy scripts?
"Yes it does. It's difficult always with comedy, because it's in the playing and there's factors that you have to take into consideration, like who's going to be doing it with you, who's going to be directing it, what's the overall look of it and where it'll be placed on the network, etc etc. So it is a process and you have to be constructive as you're going through it to find out what's going to be good and what's not.

"This show was a no-brainer - I mean, number one, it comes with Beryl Vertue, the great quality producer of the Men Behaving Badly series. There's Nick Hurran, who is a fantastic director... and Sarah, of course, who is brilliant and hilarious and extremely talented. And then there's the up-and-coming Robert Sheehan, and the writers Oriane Messina and Fay Rusling are from Green Wing and Smack The Pony - it's all there, and now we just have to keep up the high standard!"

You've also starred in quite long-running series - do you think Me and Mrs Jones has that potential to run and run?
"Definitely. I think it's got great family appeal and it seems pretty much relevant to what's going on today with parents in that particular age group, trying to [get] their life back together and having choices, dilemmas. It feels good, so I think the public will latch onto it."

Me and Mrs Jones: Jason (Neil Morrissey)

© BBC / Hartswood Films/Laurence Cedrowicz



This is another comedy role for you. Do you enjoy shifting between comedy and drama, and do you find people associate you more with one than the other?
"Yeah probably I've been seen doing more comedy. I think more of the stage work I've done has been on a serious note. But even on a six-week tour, you're not going to get to a million people, whereas when you're doing big comedy roles on television... it's kind of what you get known for.

"But then Line of Duty was very good and I really enjoyed doing that - that was a really fantastic piece. That did surprise a few people - people coming up to me saying, "Oh my goodness, that was you... have you got a real limp?'."

Were you pleased with how well Line of Duty went down with people?
"Oh, I was extremely pleased. Jed Mercurio is such a talented man, a writer / producer, so the script when I first saw it was so tight and good and pacey. The twists and turns in it were just wonderful, it was great. It was able to confuse with clarity and the way the twists happened was so cleverly weaved into the plot.

"It was weaved in with the absolute emotion of the characters and also you were dragged into the administrative cock-ups in the police force and the politics involved with that, and how it affects people's lives. I just thought it was great, a great piece of work, especially since it had plenty of action. It had a quite dark undertone to the whole thing - that feeling of helplessness, so that was great. I really enjoyed that."

A second series of Line of Duty has been confirmed. Will Nige be making a comeback?
"Wouldn't you love to see Nige again? You know, I would love to do that again. But it's about AC12, the undercover guys and where they go next is anyone's guess, I'm assuming. Who knows? All I can do is suck up to Jed and see if it works!"

Me and Mrs Jones starts tonight (Friday, October 12) at 9.30pm on BBC One.

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