A quick chat with Hermione Norris

Hermione Norris tells us about her role in ITV’s bold new remake of the 1970s drama Bouquet of Barbed Wire…

In 1976, TV viewers were gripped by Bouquet of Barbed Wire, a shocking and controversial drama about family betrayal, based on Andrea Newman’s best-selling novel, with incestuous undertones.

Now ITV1 is showing a three-part, modern revamp of the racy drama (Mon, Sept 6, not STV), in which the family of architect Peter Manson (Trevor Eve) is torn apart by his obsessive love for his daughter Prue (Imogen Poots).

TV&Satellite Week magazine caught up with the former Spooks and Cold Feet actress Hermione Norris, who plays Peter’s wife Cassie, to find out more…

Have you seen the original?

“No, when you say Bouquet of Barbed Wire, people of a certain generation say, ‘Oh I remember that, it was amazing.’ So I thought, ‘Ooh, remake, be careful,’ because I knew it would draw a lot of attention. I made a decision not to watch the original and just take it completely freshly through this adaptation’s eyes, but now I’d be really interested to see it.”

How would you describe the show?

“It is the story of Peter (Trevor Eve) and his obsession with his daughter Prue, played by Imogen Poots, who is astonishing in it. She is just so raw and open and in the full bloom of youth. To play her mother when these terrible things happen is really upsetting, especially having my own daughter.”

Why is your character Cassie so understanding about Prue getting pregnant by her teacher Gavin (Tom Riley)?

“Because she is a therapist, so she has a good understanding of people’s behaviour. Also I think that she sees that Gavin mirrors Peter. He is single-minded and unafraid, so on some level Cassie went through the same thing when she met Peter. She also knows her daughter and rather than saying, like Peter does, ‘This is unacceptable,’ she tries to respect her decision.”

How does the mother-daughter relationship develop?

“You see them more together later on. Prue is protective of Cassie and knows that Peter is not that kind to her. Later Cassie tries to save Prue and says that she has to come home because things are so awful, so they have a coming together.”

Where do you think Cassie and Peter are in their marriage?

“I think she does love him, but a lot of therapists are good at analysing everybody else’s behaviour and not taking the time to look into their own marriage. It isn’t until Gavin comes onto the scene that she starts to look.”

Where will our sympathies lie?

“I think with Prue. Watching that youthful beautiful girl being totally destroyed by that level of dysfunction is just awful. It’s like a Greek tragedy. I watched it myself and I was quite shaken. It is such a sad story and there is no reprieve or happy ending. It just gets worse and worse.”

Will the show still shock?

“I think so. My worry was that nothing is taboo now, we have seen it all. I thought no one would care now, but it is so beautifully acted by Imogen and not sensationalist or gratuitous. It is quite starkly-told, and is all tastefully done and believable.”

What was it like to film?

“When we started filming, Trevor and I had a week together filming at the family house in Hertfordshire. Trevor is really good at rolling stuff around and getting messy, and I loved working with him. I have never known so much testosterone in a man in my life. At the end of the first week I felt like I had been married to him for 20-odd years, because we had really been through it.”

Was it easy to switch off when you went home?

“Yes, I am good at that because I have children and so am disciplined about it. If I was wandering around in a state I would drive everyone mad. I have no tolerance for that type of thing at all. I have more important things to do.”

Will you miss Spooks?

“Hugely, but I know I have done the right thing coming out of it. I absolutely loved playing Ros and I had the best time with the loveliest bunch of people, but I wanted to leave her before she left me. I had gone as far as I could with her and needed to do something different. I will miss the stunts, though, because as a girl you don’t get to do that stuff much. But I have had my go, so it will go in the closet, along with my youth.”

What is next for you?

“I have been to South Africa to do Outcasts for BBC1. It is set in 2040 on a the planet Carpathia because Earth comes to an end due to war so it is no longer a viable place to live. I play an eminent scientist who is on the first transporter out there and leaves behind a one-year-old and a husband on the condition they are on the next transporter out. But 15 years later, no other transporter has arrived. It is about how civilisation tries to start again and not make the same mistakes it made before.”