The Replacement on BBC One Meet the cast BT TV blog

“The premise for new psychological thriller The Replacement might bring to mind the likes of Single White Female and The Hand The Rocks The Cradle, but writer and director Joe Ahearne insists it’s not about “shifty women”.
It’s about “shifty people”, he clarifies, laughing. “But yes, it’s about women in the workplace and them perhaps not getting on, but I don’t think it’s all that massively different from The Social Network or Nightcrawler, where different characters don’t like each other,” continues Ahearne, 53, who earned a Bafta nomination after directing five episodes of Doctor Who in 2005.
“The thing that’s different about this, which is gender [-related] of course, is that men can’t get pregnant and they [women] can, and that’s the thing which kicks it off.”
In the three-part series, Scottish actress Morven Christie, plays Ellen, an architect who unexpectedly falls pregnant just after landing the biggest contract of her career.
She hires Paula, played by Vicky McClure, to cover a brief maternity leave – but soon worries she’s made the wrong decision when she sees Paula manipulating situations and ingratiating herself with her bosses and client, and even moving in on her friends. Does she have an ulterior agenda, or is it just Ellen’s own paranoia?
“I quite liked the fact there’s no clear protagonist and antagonist situation,” says Christie, 35, who’s appeared in The A Word, Grantchester and Murder. “I think that’s a more truthful depiction of human beings and the relationships they have with each other.
“I guess I’ve always been interested in characters that don’t behave in pleasing ways. Human beings are all capable of some spectacularly s****y behaviour sometimes,” she adds, “and it’s good to look at where that originates.”
McClure, 33, who won a Bafta for her role in Shane Meadows’ This Is England ’86, admits Paula’s character didn’t resonate with her.
“I instantly knew it was something I didn’t relate to,” she says. “It’s a challenge, because you’ve got to tap into something that doesn’t come naturally, and I like to do acting when it feels natural.”
But, McClure adds, she and Christie embraced the unease between the two protagonists.
“There’s that feeling of being at a funeral and nervously laughing, that kind of weird, nervous energy that runs through it,” explains the Nottingham-based actress.
“We found some really awkward moments. It’s complicated to play, but you can find a bit of fun in it as well. Joe also gave us the freedom. He’d say, ‘Have a play with it’, so it wasn’t a regimented take.”
Ahearne acknowledges one of the great advantages of directing your own material is not waiting around to make amends.
“If you’re directing other people’s scripts, you can’t really change it, unless you ask them first,” he says. “If you’ve written it yourself, you can change it straight away.
“Actors usually know better than the writer if the line’s a clunker, or if a joke’s not fu
y. If you’ve written it yourself, you say, ‘You’re right, that’s s**t, let’s change it’.”
The story explores how the women’s differing approach to motherhood and work proves a catalyst for tension.”

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