Downton Abbey star Phyllis Logan, Miranda Richardson and Zoë Wanamaker on their new ITV drama, Girlfriends, which starts on ITV tonight at 9.00pm

From Band of Gold to In the Club, writer Kay Mellor has always put female friendship at the forefront of her work. Girlfriends is no exception, with a trio of strong but troubled women at 
its heart.

The six-part drama centres on friends Linda (Downton Abbey star Phyllis Logan), Sue (Miranda Richardson) and Gail (Zoë Wanamaker), who are dealing with tough dilemmas while facing the trials of growing older.

But their friendship is vital after Linda’s husband Micky (Steve Evets) disappears on a cruise and is presumed dead.

Phyllis Logan, 61, Zoë Wanamaker, 68, and Miranda Richardson, 59, tell us more…

What can you reveal about your characters in the show?

Phyllis Logan: “Micky going missing sets the cat amongst the pigeons as Linda’s left in dire financial straits and we discover other things about him, too. Her friends have their own fish to fry and it’s about their struggles in life, but also how their friendship binds them together.”
Miranda Richardson: “Sue’s work as a magazine features editor is her driving force, but that’s wrapped up with her secret relationship with her married boss John [Anthony Head]. All these women are vulnerable, but they’re doing the best they can.”
Zoë Wanamaker: “Gail has a mother with dementia and a son who’s been in jail who has a child, and she’s also getting divorced from a man she loves. But the connection with her friends never goes away and they always support each other.”

Girlfriends

What makes this an interesting time to depict in a woman’s life?

Phyllis: “I have friends like Gail who are worrying about ageing parents and small grandchildren. But it’s great that this is principally about us being women, because usually you are tagged on as someone else’s mother or wife. Maybe people are discovering that women over 50 are still interesting and have a viability and attractiveness about them.”

What appealed to you about working with Kay?

Miranda: “She’s got such a fab track record, she writes for women and everybody has a fully rounded character. As the director also, she is very enthusiastic and supportive.”
Zoë: “Her work is slightly quirky, but always comes from reality. She’s so dynamic and instinctive.”

What has it been like for the three of you working together?

Phyllis: “We really muck along well doing these nice meaty scenes together. It’s been really good fun.”
Zoë: “I’d never met Phyllis before but it has been lovely. Miranda and I worked together a long time ago and we’ve often bobbed into each other’s lives, so this is terrific.
Miranda: Zoë has a good poker face so you don’t know if she’s taking the mickey, and Phyllis has as daft a ragbag brain as I do when it comes to music, so she’ll start singing something and I’ll pick it up!”

Girlfriends begins tonight on ITV at 9.00pm.