8:30pm Sunday, November 29 on TV One
Daniel Craig and Anne Reid star in tonight’s Sunday Theatre: The Mother, created by director Roger Michell, writer Hanif Kureishi and producer Kevin Loader – the team behind the award-winning series The Buddha Of Suburbia (tonight at 8.30pm on TV ONE).
The story follows May (Reid, Dinnerladies) – an ordinary grandmother from the suburbs. When her husband dies on a family visit to London, she recedes into the background of her busy, metropolitan children’s lives.
Stuck in an unfamiliar city far from home, May fears that she has become another invisible old lady whose life is more or less over. That is until she falls in love with Darren (Craig, Quantum Of Solace), a man half her age who is renovating her son’s house, and sleeping with her daughter.
Reid says she saw her character May as a woman who has lived half a life without realising it. “May settled for something when she was very young, as all women of her generation did. But it isn’t until her husband dies and she suddenly starts to be herself, and find herself, that she really begins to realise who she is. You can become completely submerged in a marriage, it becomes a habit. You don’t really know who you are until suddenly it’s gone and you think ‘Wow, that wasn’t really me; I did what I was supposed to do but it wasn’t really me’.”
Daniel Craig, who plays Darren, says, “May’s almost treated with disdain by the young women in this film. She represents something which hardly exists anymore – a woman who stayed with her husband and looked after him and played the sort of loving housewife. It’s as if they think that May’s done nothing with her life, so consequently, they don’t give her any respect.”
He says the idea that later in life one can carry on living is not explored too often. “It’s as if, as people grow older, they stop functioning, sexually and in every other respect. I know that’s rubbish – we all know that’s rubbish – but the reality is not something we see very often on the big screen.”
Director Roger Michell adds: “One expects to see images of old men with younger women, but for some reason, it’s seen as undignified for old women to have sexual feelings of any sort. It is gender specific and I think it’s wrong. It shouldn’t be something we find culturally unacceptable or disagreeable. Of course, it shouldn’t be something we spend ages of time dwelling upon, but it shouldn’t have this strange sort of biological taboo attached to it.”
“I think it’s God’s little joke,” says Anne Reid. “He takes your hearing away, makes you a bit short-sighted, the knees go and your back goes, but your desire for sex remains totally intact. I think it’s a very cruel joke. I speak to lots of women who feel the same way. When I was a girl I thought ‘when you get to 60, you’ll be ready to be old’. It’s not true. But I have no intention of becoming invisible as I get older. It’s different for actors, you see. As long as you can remember your lines and not bang into the furniture, you can keep going. Everybody else has to retire. All the other people in the business have to retire, but actors can go on forever; we really do have the last laugh.”