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Lesley Sharp talks to TV & Satellite Week about playing happy families as comedy-drama Starlings returns to Sky 1 this Tuesday…

Your character, Jan Starling, is studying at college in this series. How’s that working out for her?
“The thing about Jan is that she’s incredibly positive. She meets this tutor who’s kind of strange, and throws these curveballs at her, and you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Were you all excited when you heard Starlings was coming back?
“There’s a good work ethic among the group, and Matt King and Steve Edge are fantastic writers and very generous in the way they share their ideas. It is an ensemble piece, so everyone gets a good crack at a story. This is a really good, fun group of people to work with, so we were all really pleased that it was going to go again.”

Is this a welcome change from Scott & Bailey?
“It is. They are two very different genre shows, and two very different characters, so I feel very lucky.”

What was the weather like filming up in Derbyshire?
“It was a terrible British summer last year so there was a lot of rain. One day we were filming and it literally went from sunshine to pouring rain to hailstones, and back to sunshine again. That’s what we got on a day-to-day basis, and it was a nightmare for continuity. In episode two of this series, Terry [Brendan Coyle] picks Jan up from college and they go off on a drive to this wonderful beauty spot. We had to shoot under an umbrella because of the torrential rain. That’s what’s filming in summer in this country is like.”

Since this is about people who know each other very well, is that something that’s feeling more natural because you’ve already done a series?
“Definitely. We look forward to days when we’re all on set together, because there is a very good vibe among the nine of us and we bonded on the first series.”
 
How does Jan respond to all the attention from her tutor?
“Jan doesn’t invite that stuff to make her feel great, because she’s got what she wants. So it’s quite a surprise to her when she does cotton on to the fact.”

The Starlings have always been a relatively functional family, but are we going to be seeing some cracks in Jan and Terry’s relationship?
“You might do! But I can’t give much away…”