The Version Interview... Dawn French on new Sky 1 drama, Delicious

Dawn French, Emilia Fox, Iain Glen and Sheila Hancock star in a bold new four-part drama on Sky 1 this Christmas.

Written by Dan Sefton and directed by Clare Kilner and John Hardwick, Delicious is part of Sky’s commitment to offer customers brand-new original drama all year round. Passionate cook Gina (Dawn French) was once married to Leo Vincent (Iain Glen), a successful entrepreneur, chef and hotel owner in Cornwall. Leo owes much of his success to Gina’s exceptional cooking, but since leaving her for the glamorous Sam (Emilia Fox), his business has continued to thrive. When Sam has suspicions that Leo is having an affair she confides in Gina, confident that she’ll recognise the signs. Only to later discover that it’s Gina herself who is the ‘other woman’.

The secrets and scandals that spill out are proof that sleeping with another woman’s husband is never a good idea – even if he was your husband first. As Sam and Gina try to fix their broken families, will a friendship rise from the ashes of betrayal or will they tear each other apart? Delicious is an honest and compelling story of love, sex, lies and betrayal, where things are never as they seem.

 

Dawn French tells us more...

What attracted you to this role?

The script was excellent. I didn’t know Phillippa [Giles, producer at Bandit Television] at all, but we met and she was full of energy and she talked me through all her ideas. Then I met the writer, Dan [Sefton, Mr Selfridge], who’s a young guy and a doctor, and annoyingly I couldn’t dismiss it any more. That was the clincher. He writes women so well. I asked him, “How do you know this stuff?”, and he said, “I’m married, I have a mother, and a mother in law”, and he has just listened to women. And it was set in Cornwall so I could sleep in my bed at night and see my family, plus Cornwall gets to be the other character in the piece, so it all came together. Originally it was set by the sea, but that’s been done by Poldark and Doc Martin, so we did it inland. I love the sea, I live by the sea, and it’s so beautiful. But we are showing another side of the place.

 

Can you describe Gina?

It’s hard to describe the female characters in this piece because none of them are one thing: they’re lots of different things. They rub up against each other in a very real way. They are complex and flawed and they’re mothers and they have complex relationships with their sons and their daughters. It’s not about two women fighting over a man. It’s not about the men, weirdly. 

There’s not a winner and a baddie. Everyone’s got a secret. So it’s hard with Gina because the minute you think you have the handle on her, she does something to surprise you. She’s bountiful, nurturing. She’s a feeder – literally. She has Italy in her blood. Her back story is that her grandparents are Sicilian – her father is Sicilian and her mother is Cornish. Her cooking is easy, second nature, and in her blood. Cooking is how she spreads her love. It can be cloying and suffocating.

 

You wanted to work with Emilia Fox again, didn’t you?

Why was that? I had worked very briefly with Emilia on The Wrong Mans. We only had a couple of days of scenes together but I found her fascinating. She’s very bright, and utterly beautiful, much younger than me, very opposite to me. She’s a substantial actress, and a worthy opponent – I don’t mean that in a precious way, but I wanted someone who wouldn’t be bamboozled by my massive bosoms. I can fill up a character and overwhelm people. I’m so used to working with Jennifer [Saunders] who responds to that. The moment Emilia’s name came up, it was right.

 

What’s Gina’s relationship with food like?

It’s sensual. And that’s what Gina is; that’s what Leo fell in love with. He left her for another woman but Gina’s still involved with the restaurant. She’s a patisserie chef and she cooks delicious things at home and takes them to the restaurant. And she’s his muse, his inspiration for creating new dishes. Leo’s signature dishes at the restaurant are ones that she invented in the very beginning, then he has really pushed ahead with the business and turned it into this incredible restaurant. She doesn’t begrudge him it at all.

 

And what’s your own relationship with food like?

It was very ‘meat and two veg’ growing up, so I don’t have a history of learning to cook well. They had to teach me how to cook for the cameras so that it would look right. We had an incredible food person called Lisa who was on set at all times, who told us how to do it. It all had to look luscious but artisan and peasanty at the same time. You should watch it at home and be all licky lips and kind of, “Mmm, I want to eat that”. We had lots of cannoli – little creamy desserts – and biscotti, and pastries. I had to use the rolling pin and lots of flour. Then there was spaghetti vongole and fish. In one scene we had an entire stuffed piglet. The extras are real-life, young chefs, so everybody in the kitchen should look like they know what they’re doing.

 

Delicious airs on Sky 1 next month