Interview with creator, writer and star Aisling Bea (Aine)

Category: Press Pack Article


Congratulations on the success of series one and your breakthrough talent BAFTA win in 2020! How did it feel, and did you expect This Way Up to resonate with viewers the way it did?

Thank you! It felt like a very amazing moment. On the morning of the BAFTAs, I had been knocked off my bike and felt lucky to be alive, so it definitely put the BAFTA into perspective. The awards were virtual due to lockdown, so I won watching it in my sling and flip flops, in the garden with a few pals and it ended up feeling far more special as a result.

Can you describe Aine in three words?

Funny, dreamy, speedy.

There are some real joyful and simultaneously thought-provoking moments this series. What is your favourite memory either on or off-screen?

Truthfully shooting the show in the winter during a national lockdown was incredible difficult on many levels, but one moment I remember laughing my head off was with my brilliant makeup designer Lisa Kennedy who also did series one, she kept me sane during the shoot and when we were shooting the sauna scene which is the opening of episode one, Lisa had to cover me in red makeup to make me look hot and sweaty from the sauna. And because there was a shot from above, that included painting my arse red, so I was down on all fours in a swimsuit during the winter in a pandemic while they wore medical masks and painted my arse red.

There’s a brilliant karaoke scene in one of the episodes, what’s your go-to-party-starting-karaoke song?

Well, even though I wrote it in, I strongly believe that professional performers should not do karaoke and that it should be left to terrible singers to have their one night in the spotlight. But needless to say, since series one aired, I do not mind throwing out a bit of Zombie [By The Cranberries] when pushed.

Is it a difficult process for you to recapture the essence of Aine when you return to filming after the break between series?

Not at all, I know how she walks talks and dresses very easily, I know her inside out. I know all of my characters way better now than I did in series one it helps having found such a strong cast and knowing who is playing who now too. The cast is bloody incredible, even just the calibre of actors I had in for one or two days sometimes was just nuts.

With a variety of different platforms and hours of content to view, given the choice, what TV shows do you think Aine would be binge-watching during lockdown?

Oh she would be watching what most women living alone watch – true crime stories of hideous murders.

If you could have acted in any other role, who would you like to play and why?

Ooh there are loads of badly written heroines in giant movie franchises who have been written with absolutely no senses of humour - never mind making them actively funny. So, I would love to revisit loads of parts which are iconic, but essentially are just brilliant actresses being under used and poured into PVC and running around worrying and not getting to deliver any gags. So, maybe I would have to be allowed to rewrite them first too.

This Way Up touches on friendship, family, loneliness, nurturing relationships and also explores mental health and its impact on the characters. Why was a comedy-drama the perfect hybrid genre for you to explore these themes?

I suppose that is where I sit naturally, I think “genres” only really matters to producers when they have to submit things into official categories for awards or for the people or robots who run the algorithms on streaming sites when you want to pick your category. But mostly it is reflective of a change of how people watch comedy and they can sit with you longer without it needing to be giant laughs non stop. But also people just enjoy watching things, they don’t care about genres, that’s more for press than audiences.

What do you hope viewers will take away from series two?

Truthfully, I hope if you have had a rough lockdown or year, I hope you feel seen, I hope you feel hopeful and like it is worth battling through and giving it a go. I hope you identify with the show and see that there is a value and nobility to the middle ground of health where you don’t have to be a millionaire to be a good person or have a good life and that you are not supposed to be happy all the time, but that is okay.