Amanda Redman is one of our most consistent and best-known actresses, and she’s certainly no stranger to crime drama after starring in New Tricks for so long. But in ITV’s new three-part drama The Trials Of Jimmy Rose, which starts this Sunday (30th August), she plays a very different role – the wife of an armed robber who’s getting out of prison for the umpteenth time. Here’s what Amanda has to say about it all…
The Killing Times: Who is Jackie Rose?
Amanda Redman: Jackie is married to Jimmy, a career criminal played by Ray Winstone. They met when they were about 12 and were childhood sweethearts. She grew up in a culture, society and area of London at a time when women were required to marry, have children and basically do whatever their husbands told them to do. Unlike other women of her age, Jackie wasn’t encouraged to go to university and she fulfilled the role set out for her, falling pregnant at the age of 16 or 17 which was all part and parcel of it. It’s an old fashioned relationship and marriage. Which is why Jimmy can’t cope when it gets dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. She did everything she was supposed to do until Jimmy’s last stretch in prison. Because if you add up the years they have actually spent together, it’s far less than the years they’ve spent apart. So she’s reached a certain age and thought, ‘I don’t want to do that anymore. Enough’s enough.’ Jackie started to see her own mortality, their children were grown up and she wasn’t going to be there for him anymore. She will always love him because he’s part of her DNA and she can’t help that. So it’s going to be a tricky journey because the love hasn’t gone. But she’s got to stick to her guns.”
TKT: Why did you want to play Jackie?
AR: I had always wanted to work with the director Adrian Shergold. That is the reason I took the role. I knew in the hands of someone like Adrian it would be fabulous. And, indeed, he was just so fantastic to work with. He is extraordinary. Adrian was an actor and is so unusual in his approach. He’s not like any other director I’ve worked with at all. We did a lot of improvising. It’s a completely different way of working. He demands a lot of his actors, which I already knew. I have adored watching his stuff. So when they said Adrian Shergold is directing it, that was a no-brainer.
TKT: What was working with Ray Winstone again like?
AR: They sent me the script first and it was only later they said they wanted Ray Winstone to play Jimmy. Ray and I met when we were in our 20s so we have known each other a long time. We’re best mates. Marion Bailey, who plays Jackie’s sister Sue, is one of my best female mates. We’re godmothers to each other’s daughters. And we played sisters before in a series called To Have And To Hold in the 1980s. Sue’s husband Roy is played by Paul Jesson who I’ve also known since my twenties. So it was like real family with that shorthand between us.
TKT: Jackie’s sister Sue tells Jimmy that every time he went to prison, Jackie got a sentence as well. Is this the case?
AR: That’s true. Wives like Jackie are also left to deal with society’s take on it. Because they’re noveau riche, they would be living in an area where there wouldn’t be, perhaps, too many other criminals’ wives hanging around. She would have been ostracised. There would be no money coming in. At all. So you’ve got the big house but you haven’t got the wherewithal to maintain it. She would have had to go out and get a menial job because she’s not trained for anything else. She had to do that to keep the wolf from the door as, in effect, a single mother, a single parent. Jackie would also have had to make the long journey every week or two to wherever Jimmy was in prison, anywhere in the country. That travel costs an enormous amount of money. And what do you do with the kids? Do you take them or not? The children don’t know their father because they haven’t grown up with him. It’s very tough.
TKT: Jimmy fights for his family, who all still live close by each other…
AR: A lot of families don’t have that close connection any more. Which is a shame. Because if you still live close to each other you’ve got that family support and a family can be very strong.”
TKT: Doesn’t he tells Jackie she is the only woman he has ever loved?
AR: She is absolutely the only woman he’s ever loved. That doesn’t mean to say that he hadn’t played away at some point. Who knows? But Jackie is certainly the only woman he has ever loved. And that’s very much the psyche of people like that. When they commit, they really do commit. And if you’re the mother of their kids then you’re on a pedestal. And women for other things are treated and thought of in a completely different way.”
TKT: There’s a very memorable scene where Ray, as Jimmy, is naked, face-down on a bed…
AR: That’s what the director Adrian Shergold does. That wasn’t in the script. He’ll suddenly come up with that sort of thing. There were all sorts of weird and wonderful shots. He also does huge, long takes. Going all over that house from the front door into the sitting room, kitchen, out again, up the stairs, into our bedroom, out of the bedroom, down the stairs, back into the kitchen, the hall, into the pool room. It was something like 10 pages in the script. He did it all in one take and he didn’t cut in. Which is amazing. So it demands a lot of the actors and the crew. But it’s fantastic.”
TKT: Having been in prison for many years, Jimmy is baffled by new technology and what he calls “progress”…
AR: I’m all right with that kind of thing now. I wasn’t at first. I couldn’t make head nor tail of it. But I’m absolutely fine now. In the early days I’d ask my daughter how to do things and she’d say, ‘It’s like trying to teach a two-year-old to talk.’ And I said, ‘And you’d know, would you?’ So at first it was quite hard. But my mother was on Twitter and Facebook with her iPad. It’s a double edged sword. Social media is extremely useful for lots of good things. But it’s also extremely damaging. I think too many people spend too much time doing that and they don’t communicate with each other. You can see kids phoning or texting and they’re just around the corner from each other. It’s silly. And look at how these things have been used for terrorism and paedophilia. But there’s lots of good stuff that comes out of it as well. And that’s progress. It’s like everything. There’s always going to be a bad side that can be abused.”
TKT: You’ve been vocal for many years on the lack of roles for women of a certain age…
AR: I’ve been saying it for a very long time. There aren’t enough good roles for women in their 50s. If that was the same for male actors then you’d just have to go, ‘Well, that’s life.’ But it isn’t. And therefore it’s insidious sexism and it makes my blood boil. It’s not me ranting. I only say these things in response to questions. For example, I had been nominated for an award and somebody said the role I had been nominated for was a great role. So did I not agree there are great roles for women? And I said, ‘It’s one role. And in those nominations I am the only woman in my 50s. There are no others.’ So the truth is there just aren’t the roles written for women in their 50s. And there are quite a few of us. So, consequently, there are not enough to go around. It’s labelled as whingeing. But why is it whingeing when all you are doing is defending your right to work? Why is it wrong to say that needs to be redressed? Another actress said to me once, ‘Can you imagine a world where New Tricks was about three women in their 50s, late 50s and 60s and a younger good looking bloke?’ No. And that’s sexism. Dramas like ITV’s Home Fires are fantastic. How bloody brilliant was that – that there were roles for older women. But they’re so few and far between. There are still plenty of roles for younger women in their 20s and 30s and, actually, late 60s and upwards. But not the 50s. Because they don’t know what to do with us. They don’t know what we are. We’re not old, we’re not young. So what are we? What they forget is the demographic of people watching television is women of our age who would like to see themselves represented on screen.
The Trials Of Jimmy Rose: Sunday 30th August, 9pm, ITV