Life

Amanda Redman's back on our screens and seeing red

Amanda Redman's returning to familiar turf playing Ray Winstone's wife, this time in new ITV drama The Trials Of Jimmy Rose. The acclaimed actress tells Susan Griffin why life's too short to 'work for the sake of it' and how the industry's 'insidious sexism' makes her blood boil

Amanda Redman as Jackie in The Trials Of Jimmy Rose

WHEN you tune into ITV's The Trials Of Jimmy Rose, take a close look at the photos dotted around the mansion owned by the titular Jimmy and his wife Jackie.

They haven't been Photoshopped but donated by actors Amanda Redman and Ray Winstone, who play the troubled couple, and who've known one another since they were in their 20s in real life.

"Ha, yes – they've got pictures of us all over the house of when we were young," says Redman, laughing.

This isn't the first time she's played Winstone's wife; the pair memorably played a married couple in 2000's crime film Sexy Beast too, so they knew the chemistry was there before reuniting for the upcoming three-part drama.

"We've got a shorthand," says 58-year-old Redman, who didn't know her pal was going to be part of the series until after she read Alan Whiting's script.

The strength of the writing, along with the idea of working with director Adrian Shergold, was too tempting to turn down.

"Adrian's not like any other director I've worked with. He turns everything on its head. You'll go, 'Well this scene is about this', and then you get on set and he goes, 'Ha ha - no it's not'," she explains. "It's fantastic when you've been doing something for such a long time, and you finally get to do something where you think, 'I'm going to be challenged today'. How fabulous is that?"

The series tells the story of notorious armed robber Jimmy Rose, who's made crime pay with his beautiful home - but he's spent more time behind bars than with the love of his life Jackie, and their two children and three grandchildren.

"Jackie wasn't encouraged to go to university and she fulfilled the role set out for her, falling pregnant at 16 or 17. It's an old-fashioned relationship and marriage, which is why Jimmy can't cope when it gets dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century," says Brighton-born Redman, who trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

During Jimmy's latest stint behind bars, his family has moved on, so there won't be a warm welcome when he returns home.

"Fundamentally, the love the two have is as strong, but he's been inside for over 20 years of their marriage. That's a long time," continues Redman.

"I think like a lot of ladies in her situation, she knew what was going on, but as long as she didn't ask, she could ignore it and get on with life and it wouldn't infringe on her," she says of her character. "But of course it has done, and everything's come home to roost."

Redman notes that Jackie has reached a certain age and thought, 'I don't want to do that, enough's enough'.

"She started to see her own mortality; their children had grown up and she wasn't going to be there for him any more."

Jimmy assumes that all the money he's made through his criminal dealings will be waiting for him on the outside, but there's nothing left in the pot.

"Jackie's had to keep it going, while he thinks he's been supporting and protecting them. As she points out - no, it's down to her - there would've been no money coming in at all. So you've got the big house but you haven't got the wherewithal to maintain it. She would've had to go out and get a menial job because she's not trained for anything else."

The story also explores the potential of drugs to destroy young lives. "It's not something limited to a certain sector of society. It's across the board," says Redman, who starred in New Tricks for a decade until 2013 and has two Bafta received to her name, for At Home With The Braithwaites and 2014's Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This.

"It doesn't matter what class you are, what school you've been to. The worry and the danger is there," she continues. "With my own daughter [Emily, from her previous marriage to actor Robert Glenister], I was always terrified. Thank God she never went down that route, but it's certainly something I think all parents are scared of."

She credits Emily with helping her embrace the technology that baffles Jimmy when he's released from prison.

"She'd say, 'It's like trying to teach a two-year-old to talk'," recalls Redman, laughing.

She admits she thinks social media is "a double-edged sword".

"It's extremely useful for lots of good things, but it's also extremely damaging. I think too many people spend too much time doing that [using social media], and they don't communicate with each other," she explains. "You can see kids phoning or texting and they're just around the corner from each other. It's silly. And look at how these things have been used for terrorism and paedophilia. But there's a lot of good stuff that comes out of it as well - and that's progress."

She feels there isn't much progress, however, with regards to roles for women in their 50s.

"If it was the same for male actors then you'd have to go, 'Well that's life', but it isn't, and therefore it's insidious sexism and it makes my blood boil. It's labelled as whinging, but why is it whinging when all you are doing is defending your right to work? Why is it wrong to say that needs to be addressed?

"There are still plenty of roles for younger women and [for those in their] late 60s and upwards, but not the 50s, because they don't know what to do with us," she continues. "They don't know what we are. We're not old, we're not young, so what are we?

"What they forget is that the demographic of people watching TV is women of our age, who would like to see themselves represented on screen."

This year, the actress, who married husband Damian Schnabel in 2010, celebrates the 20th anniversary of her Artists Theatre School in Ealing, West London.

"It's hugely rewarding when you see the students do well. I get more of a kick out of watching them do well then anything I might do," says Redman, who's been busy directing plays for the drama school's adult graduation show but says she has "no idea what I'm doing next".

"Nothing has been sent to me that I want to do. Not one thing. I don't see why I should work just for the sake of it," she adds casually. "I never have done, so I'm not going to start now. Life's way too short."

:: The Trials Of Jimmy Rose is a three-part series on Sundays, ITV.

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