After 15 years, those Birds of a Feather are returning to ITV on Thursday, Jan 2 for a brand-new series of the classic sitcom. We chatted to Pauline Quirke, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph about sisterly love… and onesies!
So, what’s it like being back together on TV?
Linda Robson: “It’s terrible! We hate each other.”
Lesley Joseph: “The stage tour kicked it all off really, so it’s just been like putting on a pair of old socks. The audience went berserk for the stage show and everyone we spoke to said we should bring it back to television. So we did!”
What’s the enduring popularity of the show do you think?
LJ: “Well, it’s a family show, a lot of people grew up with it and would watch it with their mothers, fathers and grandparents. They’re all older now but people remember it in a positive light because it was funny.”
Pauline Quirke: “I don’t think we can worry about whether we’re repeating the success of the first series. I suppose some people will absolutely loath it, but I think the majority will love it!”
Where do we find Sharon, Tracey and Dorien 15 years on?
LJ: “Well, Sharon and Tracey have sort of had a falling out, Tracey’s remarried and Dorien’s written a book, Sixty Shades of Green, under the name Foxy Cohen. In the first episode, Dorien’s doing a book signing and Sharon and Tracey come along – and they realise that Foxy Cohen is actually Dorien Green!”
LR: “The reason Sharon and Tracey fell out was because Sharon didn’t like Tracey’s new husband and she was right! Tracey should have listened to her.”
Do Sharon and Tracey get their relationship as sisters back on track?
LR: “I don’t think that’s ever gone. They’re very loyal. They can have a screaming match and, the next minute, have a cuddle.”
PQ: “They’d die for each other as they’d die for Dorien. These women really do like each other, they’ve been through so much together. There’s still a great warmth to the series.”
Do any of them have jobs?
PQ: “Sharon works in World of Quid. She’s still moaning about society and how hard done by she is.”
LR: “She’s still a lazy cow! Tracey’s working for telesales at home, so that she can still be there to look after her boys and keep the house in order.”
LJ: “Dorien’s got her own money from her book, but then she loses it all and has to go and help Sharon out at World of Quid. She doesn’t wear a tabard though!”
Ah yes, Dorien always had an interesting wardrobe. What was it like, Lesley, getting back into her animal print?
LJ: “I had to get a personal trainer in and really work hard to get back into the clothes because the skirts are as short as they ever were, probably shorter actually. I’ve been around so long that animal print has come back in fashion three times!”
And, 15 years on, are Sharon and Tracey wearing onesies?
PQ: “There is a onesie!”
LR: “Sharon’s got a onesie! Dorien’s got really nice silk pyjamas and Tracey’s are Cath Kidston.”
Tracey’s two sons, Garth and Travis, are played respectively by former Busted singer Matt Willis and Pauline’s real son Charlie. How do they shape up?
PQ: “Charlie did the tour with us and now he’s back. It just seems so right to have him there. He’s not been so good at making teas and coffees, though.”
LJ: “And Matt’s just adorable. We love him.”
Have the opening titles – showing Sharon and Tracey growing up – been reshot?
PQ: “They’ve been slightly altered, but it’s still what people will remember. We’re singing What’ll I Do, as before, but it’s a slightly different tempo. Also, Dorien’s in the titles now and Lesley’s singing a bit.”
LJ: “You couldn’t change it too much because everyone loved the titles.”
Despite everything you’ve done since, is Birds what fans still remember you for if they call out to you in the street?
PQ: “Yeah. They get their Sharons and Traceys mixed up though!”
Do you hope the series can run and run?
LJ: “I don’t think we’re taking it any further than the first series at the moment. It’s fantastic to bring it back and we’d love it to be a huge success and if ITV wanted to do another that would be lovely. All we care about is making a bloody good programme – and Birds is about real people, it’s funny and it’s moving, so I think we’re doing that.”
Finally, what would you buy your characters for Christmas?
LR: “I’d buy Tracey a pair of furry handcuffs or something.”
LJ: “She’s got them already. I’d just give them copies of 60 Shades of Green, so I wouldn’t have to spend any money.”
PQ: “I’d get Sharon another onesie maybe.”