Interview with Sarah Solemani

Did you know of Paul Abbott/No Offence before joining the drama? Yes, my favourite TV of all time was Shameless series two. So to join an original Paul Abbott show in the second series felt like a really good omen. I also don’t view his work as straight drama - it’s dramatic but with lots of comedy, the kind of thing I like to watch.

Tell us about Lickberg... Helen Mirren and Kenneth Williams were both character inspirations for me. She’s the boss, but she’s also intrigued by Deering, she has a different way of working, a bit more formal, following protocol, doing things by ‘the book’. She observes how Deering not just thinks ‘outside the box’, but puts a grenade in the box, blows up the box then pisses on the box to destroy the evidence. They were a great ‘odd couple’ in that respect.

What research did you do? All of C4’s 24 Hours in Police Custody gave me all the education I needed. Also one of our drivers, David Turner, was a former policeman so he told me lots of stories.

A very contemporary drama - how was it working on the show? This was the most women on one set I’ve ever worked with + we had mostly female directors and it was a treat to work with all female leads on a show that didn’t have gendered storylines. By ‘gender’ I mean ‘female issues’ and by ‘female issues’ I mean ‘romance.’ A welcome change and proof that all women can front heavyweight storylines.

Have you ever worked/visited Manchester before? I did a play at NT that toured to the Contact Theatre, Manchester, years ago and loved the music scene here especially. I was a MASSIVE Oasis fan in the 90’s and the Stone Roses + loads of Britpop bands that originated in Manchester, so the city holds a special place in my heart for a time before X Factor, when bands were how they should be, rock’n’roll and not giving a ****. I can really recommend Mat Whitecross’ film Supersonic documentary about Oasis, it’s a great tribute to the band and the city.

Have you ever worked with any of the cast before? I’m lucky enough to have worked with Joanna on several jobs, including Bridget Jones’ Baby. Funny and talented and open - you can start talking about the most random topic, serious or funny and without blinking, she’ll join in and discuss it with you. I love how open she is with her great brain and how she writes and acts in her own work. I adore her! I’ve admired Alex and Elaine from afar so was thrilled to get to act alongside them and they didn’t disappoint. Don’t care if I sound gushy I mean it - I adored them all!

You've moved to LA? I am currently in Los Angeles working with Bill Hader on a new show for HBO - we are just in the writers’ room figuring it all out but it’s very exciting and it’s nice to be a weirdo in a weird place where everyone finds you weird. I think it’s good for the soul.

What's the main difference between British and American TV drama? America doesn’t have such strict divisions between ‘comedy’ and ‘drama’, where as we have completely separate departments. Comedy often look for ‘joke counts’ and drama looks for ‘cry counts’ and that’s how budgets are divided out so work can get a bit polarised. That’s why I LOVE No Offence because it breaks all those rules and just does what is dramatic or funny and doesn’t follow convention. In fact, I don’t feel like Paul Abbott has ever followed convention his whole life which is why he is such an important voice on British TV.

November 23, 2016 10:45am ET by Channel 4  

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