By David Hennessy
After just picking up an IFTA last month for her portrayal of Siobhan in RTE’s hit gritty crime drama, Love/Hate, Charlie Murphy is set for a bigger profile in the UK thanks to her role in upcoming BBC drama, The Village which also stars John Simm (Mad Dogs) and Maxine Peake (Silk).
Described as the BBC’s answer to Downton Abbey, the epic drama charts the turbulent times of one English village over a century, starting in 1914. Staying within the locality at all times, the series recounts world wars, great political events and upheavals in national identity through the lives of the villagers and the village.
The first episode opens with the arrival of the first bus ever to stop in the village which brings Charlie’s character, Martha Lane. A woman with attitudes and views more in line with this century than the last, it does not take Martha long to make an impression in the village particularly on the Middleton brothers, Bert and Joe.
Pre-adolescent Bert can’t handle the thought of his older brother Joe leaving home even though that may be the idea behind him working in “the big house”. However, their overbearing father, played by Simm, takes all his frustration over his failing farm out on his family and mostly the boys. Both brothers are enchanted with Martha but devious Bert scuppers any plans his older sibling may have by telling him he has seen her in the intimate company of one of the village’s more well off inhabitants. Being 1914, war provides Joe with a getaway along with all the village’s other fit, healthy men.
“I played Martha Lane,” Charlie told The Irish World. “She has just moved to the village because her father runs a Methodist Church there. So she’s a bit of an outsider at the beginning. She’s young and full of energy and morals. She becomes very hands on with the fallen characters in the village – trying to save their souls, but with all this she’s still a young woman.”
What was the scene Charlie most enjoyed filming? “One of my favourites was with Nico (Mirallegro, Joe) and Bill (Jones, Bert) in the forest. We started filming in the sunshine running down a hill then torrential rain came and for continuity we had to carry on running down the same track which had turned into a stream, we were slipping and holding each other up all afternoon, it was farcical but fun. That was our first scene together so we got to know each other very fast!”
Filming entailed Charlie enduring a corset for over ten hours some days but she enjoyed being transported back to a different era: “I think in daily preparation I enjoyed being in the makeup trailer the most, the women there were fabulous, even to watch them dress wigs for the other actors, or work on wounds. But costumes were fun too, with a time span of six years so it was exciting to start in 1914 and then slowly change to 1920.”
For the full interview, see the March 23 edition of The Irish World