Corrie’s Suranne Jones on Maryland: I’ve lost both my parents- I know grief

Star of Doctor Foster,Vigil , and Gentleman Jack , Suranne Jones is known for the clever, gutsy and determined women she plays on screen. However, in ITVX drama Maryland she plays against type as the messier and more submissive of two sisters.

“I felt like I wanted to play a younger sister, someone who was kind of dragged along or felt stuck rather than had things all clued up and ran the show,” says the 44-year-old actress. “I wanted to be someone who I could unravel throughout.

"I had the choice of either sister at the beginning, and most people thought I’d play Rosaline. I wish I had the wardrobe of Rosaline – she had cashmere and now I’m going, ‘My jeans are a bit short.’”

The three-parter focuses on the relationship between high-flying Rosaline and down-to-earth mother-of-two Becca, who have drifted apart.

When a body is found on an Isle of Man beach they are devastated to learn it’s their mother, Mary. Arriving on the island, they are shocked at what they discover about Mary’s secrets and lies.

“I’ve always been fascinated by another life,” says Suranne. “Usually it’s men, so we were really intrigued about how a woman does that, and that’s what we kept coming back to. Every family has one of these stories, and we felt that was important to tell. It’s not got car chases, it’s very normal – but extraordinary.”

She and writer Anne-Marie O’Connor worked on the project together. Suranne says, “It’s no secret that I’ve lost both my parents. So obviously I know grief and a huge part of our conversation was what that is to someone. And this show doesn’t deal with it quickly. But there’s humour in it.

“It’s not an easy ride. Knowing sickness, knowing, illness, knowing grief, knowing death, was a huge part of it and we’re proud of how that turned out.”

Suranne, who is also creator and executive producer, adds, “The age of the sisters was really important to us – being our age. And then, because we didn’t have the mother, we wanted a strong character of the next generation, which is where Stockard [Channing] came in. Cathy [a friend of the mother] is intriguing and brilliant. She has her own storyline and mystery, which we thought was really important. With a 70-year-old woman, that’s something we often don’t see.”

Suranne reveals many of the cast and crew were starstruck at meeting Grease star Stockard, 79. “We said Cathy is played by Stockard Channing in the writers room for a year and a half. So I wanted to cheer when Stockard came on – as we manifested her. I don’t know if anyone believes that, but we did.

“What she brought to it was a very earthy performance, very real, very intriguing and by the end Stockard was sitting on the sofa with me and Eve asking what we were having for lunch. It was a family dynamic. It was exciting. She’s brilliant.”

Rosaline is played by House Of The Dragon ’s Eve Best, 51. And while the relationship between the sisters blows hot and cold, Suranne says she and Eve were inseparable.

“I loved Eve in The Honourable Woman and Nurse Jackie , so again, I was a bit fangirly,” she admits. “When we first met we hugged each other for an overly long amount of time, it was almost like we were going, are we ready for this?’

“But once we got over that and we went, ‘Right, let’s get into it,’ we didn’t leave each other’s side. I love her, I think she’s wonderful.”


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