Steve Morris

‘I’ve started talking to myself’: Tamsin Greig interviewed

Tamsin Greig, who will play Rosemary Horrocks in the BBC’s remake Alan Bennett's Talking Heads later this year. Image: Magnus Sundholm / Shutterstock

C4’s Friday Night Dinner was the nation’s stop off point for feeling a bit better about ourselves. It featured the Goodman family. Every week the Goodman’s two sons returned to their parents’ home for Shabbat dinner. Every week, things didn’t go to plan.

Of course, the chaotic Goodmans stand in for all our chaotic families in these times. It is good to know that it isn’t only our own family that is a shambles. The guiding force, the everyday matriarch of that family, is Jackie Goodman – long-suffering mum, played by Tamsin Greig.

‘It is charming because it is all about coming home. I think that’s why people love it. The two boys come home every week to somewhere they know they are loved. It might be a nightmare, things might always go wrong, but they come home. A lot of teenagers tell me that they find it very comforting.’

If her career looks like one easy hop from great role to role that isn’t quite true. After university (she didn’t get into drama school) she had a stretch temping and even attended secretarial college. Did she ever think it would never happen, that she might have to get a proper job?

‘I think my mum thought the acting was a bit of fun that I might grow out of. I always thought I’d go on with it till it stopped and I had to do something else.’

But it hasn’t stopped, and she hasn’t had to do anything else. Being Fran Katzenjammer in Channel 4’s Black Books established Tamsin and her co-stars. From there, she went on to be the perpetually embarrassed Dr Caroline Todd in Green Wing and Beverley Lincoln alongside Matt le Blanc in Episodes. But it is as the feisty, funny, long-suffering Jewish mum Jackie Goodman that she has really connected with people.

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