Imelda Staunton has been announced as the star taking over as the Queen in the fifth and final season of The Crown, but before we see her don her regal attire for that role, we’ll get to watch her in ITV’s new series Flesh and Blood.
In the series, Imelda plays Mary, a neighbour and friend of a family with lots of unfolding drama happening within it – resulting in a dead body being found. Throughout the series, we see Mary giving her account of events to police, and ultimately viewers will discover who has died and how it came to happen.
The show was written by Sarah Williams (The Long Song), directed by Louise Hooper (Cheat) and stars Francesca Annis as Mary’s friend Vivien as well as Claudie Blakley, Russell Tovey and Lydia Leonard as her children, who are deeply sceptical about her new relationship with Mark (Stephen Rea) after their father’s death.
“As she nears her 70th birthday, the siblings’ suspicions are heightened when retired GP Mark sweeps their mother off her feet, shifting her priorities away from her children. The happiness of her 45-year marriage to their father, Terry, is called into question, which sends a seismic shock through the lives of the siblings,” ITV said.
“Years of secrets, lies, rivalries and betrayals come to the surface and threaten to blow apart everything they’ve held dear.”
Living next door and being close with Vivien and her family, Mary is in a prime position to watch events unfolding. Speaking about Mary’s involvement in the story, Imelda told Goodhousekeeping.com/uk and other press ahead of the series airing:
“You might think she’s a bit weird but no, she’s just a good mate – a little bit over-protective one might think. [The story] wasn’t what I thought it would be, then it was what I thought it would be, then it changed again. It really kept me guessing.
“It’s interesting to watch all these messy lives… they’re really well-drawn characters,” she added.
The series is shot in a remote coastal location, which director Louise Hooper has previously said was intended to make the show feel like a “modern parable.”
Imelda described the location as “refreshing”, adding: “Visually it's different. And I think the story is different. So that was quite nice. This isn’t a very dark, dark piece, it is a bit playful,” she said.
Mary is the narrator of the piece, talking viewers through events as she sees them through her kitchen curtains.
“I think that's a good device… sometimes I'm suspicious of narration… I sometimes think they put it on afterwards because it's not good enough. But I think this was absolutely a really key ingredient to drawing people in,” she said.
“It’s quite an ordinary voice, it’s not creepy. It draws you in,” she explained.
With work on The Crown underway, Imelda is surely about to become very busy indeed, but would she like to work on more Flesh and Blood?
“I don't know. I mean, everything depends on the script, doesn't it? And I don't know if people would be hungry. I couldn't even think [about it] until you know if there's a demand for it,” she said.
“People always ask if there would be another Downton Abbey film. Unless there's a demand for it there’s no point saying: ‘Yes, I want to do that.’ It’s never worth even going there.”
One thing’s for sure – Imelda’s acting prowess is taking centre stage for the foreseeable.
Flesh and Blood will air on Monday 24 February at 9pm on ITV, continuing nightly until Thursday 27 February.
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