Classic Interview: Olivia Colman: Page 2 of 2

Olivia Colman

There have, however, been less fulfilling projects. In 2006 she co-starred with Robert Webb in the British rom-com Confetti. They played naturists, which meant appearing nude. Colman has previously said that this was the “worst experience of her life” and does not want to talk about it, except to say that it was a “steep learning curve”. Since then she has been more cautious about scripts.

Beautiful People, by contrast, is clearly a happy shoot. The cast bonded when Colman arranged for a mobile blood donor unit to visit the set. A friend recently had leukaemia and, following a bone marrow transplant, is now recovering. Colman is a passionate proselytiser, persuading everyone to register: “It takes a minute and can save a life.”

One thing has been puzzling me all day though. How come Hayley is the family auntie and yet is clearly of Asian descent? Meera Syal pops into the catering bus for dessert and sheds some light. “Debbie was working as a barmaid and met Hayley when she was drunk and brought her home and adopted her. I relate to that because we had all sorts of aunties and uncles in our house when we were growing up.”

And that may explain the appeal of this clan that puts the Gallaghers in Shamelessin the shade. The Doonans might appear dysfunctional, but they are probably no more eccentric than any other domestic set-up. Just because you do not burst into Broadway tunes like Simon or have boxing matches in the street like Debbie does not make you any more normal. Maybe the Doonans are an average household after all.

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