‘A script like this is a gift’ says Nicola Coughlan as new series Big Mood set to hit our screens

‘A script like this is a gift’ says Nicola Coughlan as new series Big Mood set to hit our screens

NICOLA COUGHLAN’S much-anticipated new series is due to air next week and the Galway actor is just a little bti ex cited about it.

Big Mood will be released on Channel 4 on March 28.

Written and created by Camilla Whitehill, the series stars Coughlan and Lydia West as co-dependant best friends navigating their lives, mental health and the world around them.

Coughlan, who is famed for roles in Bridgerton and Derry Girls, stars as Maggie.

When we meet them, Maggie’s bipolar disorder has made an unwelcome return and best friend Eddie (West) is questioning the future of their relationship as they move form their 20s into their 30s and their life goalposts begin to change.

Nicola Coughlan and Lydia West in new Channel 4 series Big Mood

This week, Coughlan took time out to talk about the show and why it was so important for her to be involved in it…

What made you get involved in Big Mood?

Camilla [Whitehall] has been a part of my life for a really long time, I've known her for nearly 16 years, and we always wanted to work together.

We wrote a podcast together called Whistle Through The Shamrocks, and it was very silly and very fun.

It was a nice chance to see how our working dynamic was. Camilla had talked about writing something that I would be in, but it took various different forms and then all came together as what Big Mood is now.

I was never really asked to do Big Mood, Camilla just always expected that I would do it, and I would have never said no!

When I read the script, I was like, it's so brilliant.

Big Mood has so much heart to it as well.

It's a gift as an actor when you just get handed a script like that and you haven't even had to audition, you're like thank you so much this is great.

The six-part series explores the nuances of female friendship

What themes in the show stood out for you?

I think one of the things I knew that was important to me is that even though the show deals with difficult stuff, Camilla said it's a comedy.

It’s so brilliantly balanced by how much you have these proper laugh out loud moments and then the next scene, you're crying. I love that it felt very true to her voice. It's also very much in the vernacular of how her and I and our friends speak to one another, so it felt very real.

It was really gutting to read it because it was so effective, and I think it talks about mental health in such an unflinching and kind of an uncomfortable way.

In the world now there are way more solutions around mental health, way more openness about it, but also sometimes the line is drawn - depression and anxiety are very socially acceptable and it's okay to talk about but when it gets into people using anti-psychotic drugs, or having psychotic episodes, then people can get totally freaked out by that and that's not considered in the banner of comfortable mental health.

I think [the show] is going to give people a completely different understanding of what bipolar disorder is and how it manifests, and it did that for me as well.

The show will air on March 28

What have you enjoyed most about the show?

Honestly, the whole experience was incredible.

I really fell in love with everyone. I mean, I've loved Camilla for years and years so that was a given.

Rebecca Asher is just an incredible director and so kind and respectful. I have a big belief that nothing good happens on a toxic set. Rebecca would know what everybody was doing, everyone's name and everyone's job.

Lauren Evans cast the supporting roles so phenomenally, I think people are going to completely fall in love with this cast because everyone is so distinct, people that have two lines in this show completely steal it.

Maddie Jepson for example, absolutely phenomenal.

Amalia Vitale, again been a friend for years and years, they just come in and they blow it out of the water, and I'm really excited for people to see that.

It was really hard work because we filmed in seven weeks, I was filming Bridgerton at the same time for half of it.

So, it was tough but even the crew were saying I think it’s really brilliant and funny and important and when you get that from the crew they’re not lying because they don’t need to tell you that – everyone loved making this show.

Nicola Coughlan stars as Maggie the new Channel 4 series

Tell us about your character, Maggie?

Maggie is just about to turn 30 and she lives in East London.

Her best friend is Eddie and they've been best friends for about 10 years. They obviously truly love each other but I think you see from quite early on the relationship is very co-dependent.

I think when you meet Maggie at first you think she's just this really fun-loving kooky girl and there’s little hints throughout the first episode that something's not quite right, but I think the first episode really wrong-foots the audience in a clever way because you think oh she’s so fun and then you start to think – oh hang on, somethings not quite right here.

Maggie’s quite chaotic and Eddie's very grounded and they sort of balance each other out. But I think you start to question almost immediately, who's benefiting from this? And you really see that dynamic sort of start to fracture as the show goes on.

Coughlan says the script was a 'gift ofr any actor'

What is her relationship with Eddie like?

I think they truly love each other, but I think it can often happen in a dynamic where two people are not actually doing the best by one another, they’ve fallen into a pattern of behaving and treating one another and that's actually not benefiting either, but it's difficult because they have a real love and respect for one another.

I spoke to Camilla about it a lot, everyone else in their lives is kind of incidental because you see Maggie have these moments with men but it's not really important to her.

Eddie is centre of her universe; she doesn't have a mega close relationship with her mum and definitely doesn't have one with her dad but Eddie is everything to her. It shows how dangerous it is to put every pressure in your life and every hope and every dream onto one single person, it’s a dangerous thing even if you truly love someone because there's a chance that at one point or another one of you is not going to be able to give that back to that person.

Sally Phillips also stars in the new comedy series

Are there any similarities between you and Maggie?

It's funny, I think Maggie is so different to me in so many ways. I've never played a character like her before, someone that has so little self-doubt, I often play quite bookish characters and people that stand in the background and Maggie is front and centre.

It was really liberating to play her because there were scenes in which I was like, ‘I would never do this’, she’s so bold and so front footed.

I loved playing her, there's a distinct challenge in how do you make a very depressed person very funny? Camilla had done that with the writing, but it was a definite challenge in the performance, because there are moments in which she verges on the ridiculous, I was always talking to Rebecca and Camilla about charting the journey for bipolar disorder, it really changes throughout the series. Each episode is distinctly different, and Maggie’s in a really distinctly different place.

Coughlan and West in Big Mood

Why should people watch Big Mood?

I'm biased, but I love the show. I genuinely think it's a brilliant show, I really do. I'm so insanely proud of it. It's the most personally invested I've ever been in anything that I've ever worked on.

Because it is written by one of my best friends and it's got so much meaning behind it. I think it's so funny. It's like a show I've always dreamed of making but never knew if I’d get to.

I think the show is very relatable, it’s also about the weird change that happens from your 20s to 30s when the things you used to get away with that were kind of fun and cute, are not anymore.

Life starts to get a bit more serious, and you have to figure out who you are and what you're doing with your life.

Camilla is a genius writer and I've been waiting for the world to see that; this is her moment. We just loved making the show and it's a really special thing.

The cast and I have all become mega close now, so it feels like I've made this show with not just one friend, but a group of people who I really, really love.

Big Mood airs on Channel 4 at 10pm on Thursday, March 28.