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The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard

Jane Horrocks

Jane Horrocks first came to prominence in Mike Leigh's acclaimed 1990 film Life Is Sweet -- for which she won the Best Supporting Actress prize at the Los Angeles Film Critics' Awards. She then became a familiar face on television as Bubble, Edina's air-headed assistant in Jennifer Saunders' Absolutely Fabulous.

Equally at home in comedy and drama, Horrocks' numerous TV roles have included Watership Down, Jericho: To Murder and Create and The Street alongside Timothy Spall and Jim Broadbent. She appeared in the All-Star Comedy Show, with Steve Coogan; Mirrorball, which reunited her with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley; and her own TV sketch show, Never Mind the Horrocks.

An associate member of RADA, Horrocks' first role out of drama school was in writer Jim Cartwright's Road, directed by Alan Clarke, in 1987. It was Cartwright's fascination with Horrocks' impressions of singers such as Julie Andrews and Shirley Bassey that led him to write The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, the West End hit which would become the hit movie Little Voice (1998). Horrocks starred opposite Michael Caine and Brenda Blethyn in the award-winning film.

Horrocks is at work on the comedy No One Gets Off in This Town (also starring John Hurt, Gillian Anderson and Brenda Blethyn), currently scheduled for release in the UK in 2008.

I'm not a politician. Politicians lie. That's why people struggle with whom to vote for. When politicians may or may not be telling the truth, who can you trust? Someone who isn't a politician! Exactly! -- Ros Pritchard

The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard is a story of political revolt against 'politics as usual'... do you share any of the disillusion with ordinary politics that your character exploits in the series?

Yes, very much so... I totally sympathize with the character and Sally Wainwright (the program's writer) who also didn't know who to vote for. And that's why she wrote the series -- rather than run for office herself, she thought 'well, I'll write a program about it..."

It has been said that your character is nearer to you than many of the characters you've played in the past...

Yes, I made a concious decision to play the character closer to me than any other. It just seemed to leap off the page when I spoke as me. I thought there's no point in pretending to be anything other than what I am in this role...

Ros goes all the way from first thinking about politics to actually being elected Prime Minister. Do you have a sense of sympathy for the hard choices politicians have to make as a result of doing this program?

Absolutely. I've been asked my opinion about politics and - I mean, I'm an actress! It would seem very arrogant of me to have opinions; it is such a difficult job. There are so many decisions to make and, when you have so little time to think about them... they are quickfire. And often they're wrong decisions.

You've got your own female Alistair Campbell (Tony Blair's Director of Communications and Strategy), as it were, in the series... did you do a lot of research about the people around you as Prime Minister?

Yes, I did, I visited the public galleries at Parliament and I watched from there... I met Andrew MacKinley (Labour Party, Member of Parliament) and his wife -- I sort of saw their world and was told about their world... that was incredibly useful. But I wanted to be more of a 'people's politician.'

The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard is quite feminist -- 'women can run the world better than men, women can run politics better than men.' There are comparisons made with Margaret Thatcher. Do you hope people watching will want to get involved in politics?

Well, the show is a satire! It will be great if people watch and feel "it could be me..." who becomes prime minister, but I think it's probably very unlikely...

Tell us more about your interpretation of Ros Pritchard...

Mrs. Pritchard runs both her life and her shop with the kind of friendly efficiency that makes her loved by everyone she meets. She's the voice of reason with the ability to cut through the flim-flam of politics.

When I first read the script, it touched a nerve. So many people don't feel involved any more and find politics so dull that they don't even bother voting. I haven't voted at the last two elections for that reason, which is outrageous -- but I know I am not alone.

That's why I think this could be quite an important piece of drama, because it might get people to talk about politics again and become more interested in what is going on. As a result of making this film, I will certainly be taking a greater interest at the next election!

I don't know if a woman would necessarily make a better Prime Minister than a man. The reason why Mrs. Pritchard is a potentially good Prime Minister is that she is an honest person and a people person. She really cares about what the public wants -- unlike, it seems, many politicians today.

I only hope that people don't think I really am the Prime Minister, although I know there are people around who will be daft enough to think I am!

If it is a success, I don't know how I will deal with the attention. Mrs. Pritchard does look more like me than any other character I have played. In the past, I've always managed to avoid being recognized until I open my mouth.

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Masterpiece Theatre The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard

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