It’s Keeley’s (Katherine Rose Morley) birthday and she could really do with some luck today - she’s defaulted on a payday loan, and the debt collectors are already knocking on her door demanding she pays off the £425 she owes. With nothing in her bank account Keeley needs to think of a way to get the cash and fast - and winning the lottery would certainly solve all Keeley’s problems!
The Syndicate begins Tuesday 30th March at 9pm on BBC One.
Interview: BBC Press
Tell us about your character Donna.
Donna was a fun character to play, actually. She’s a little bit rough round the edges. You get the sense that she’s not had the best life. She’s not got very much money. Donna works hard and she’s brought up two children. You get a sense that’s she’s lived a life and it’s not always gone the way that she had hoped. She’s fun and feisty which was great to play. She is really relatable. She’s the girl up the road. We probably all know somebody like Donna.
Do you think you share any character traits with Donna?
Some. I come from a working-class background and we lived on council estates for quite a few years. I was also a young mum. I was 18 and 21 when I had my first two kids. I didn’t have very much money. I did what I had to to provide for them. So I do identify with Donna in that sense. I think she’s a really good mum and she loves her children.
Where do we find Donna at the beginning of the series?
I have to say first of all, Katherine [Rose Morley] and Reuben [Reuter] were just brilliant to work with. An absolute joy. Reuben’s just such a sweetheart, he really is. A gorgeous guy. The first time you see Donna she’s had a visit from a bailiff, a debt collector at the door and they’ve come for Keeley. So the first thing she’s doing is telling off her kid. We see a genuine concern from her as to how her daughter’s got herself into trouble. She’s got her daughter’s number, but you can see that there’s a bond between them. You also get that Donna is trying to do the right thing by her children. She’s tired, she’s out working, she’s exasperated by what’s going on and she’s trying her best to be a good mum.
What’s it been like filming with Kay this last few months?
I was really nervous when I met Kay for the first time. I met her in my audition. She’s such a ledge, isn’t she? Working with her on set was just great. Kay’s got a really clear vision of what she wants but she’s also quite open to things. She let me ad lib a little bit. She likes to get the job done but she’s also someone you can talk to and have a laugh with. That’s really important to have on set because you don’t want to feel like it’s them and us. You need to feel like a team, and she certainly made us feel like that.
Had you watched earlier series of The Syndicate before joining for series four?
Yes, many years ago - I watched the first series. My parents were big fans of The Syndicate, they watched every series. I’m rubbish at watching television, particularly these days. I don’t seem to have time to sit down and do anything, but a few years back I’d watched so knew how funny and gritty the series was. I love the way Kay writes. It’s very relatable and there’s always that real northern humour that I love in particular. It’s such a great series - always has been - and obviously this one is no exception, so I’m proud to be a part of it.
How did you find filming during Covid?
The first lockdown put paid to the time we were supposed to film so when we all eventually got to set everyone just felt so lucky to be back up and doing what we love doing. Yes, it was very different. We all had regular Covid tests, there were temperature checks every day and medics around all the time. Everyone was wearing masks and practicing social distancing. We all had to go in one way and out of the other. It was different but still so enjoyable. We are all going to remember the experience in years to come - that we were filming during Covid-19. We felt very fortunate too. The crew were fantastic as well. They made things as easy as they possibly could and we all felt very safe and looked after which is what you need.
Do you have any favourite scenes?
There’s a scene in episode five where Keeley comes home to find Donna’s won the bingo, and Donna’s just so excited. All Keeley can smell is wacky baccy and there are remnants of a Chinese and alcohol strewn everywhere and Donna comes running downstairs getting dressed as she goes. Katherine and I were just hysterical at what I was wearing, because it was a tiny mini skirt and a see-through top and she’s pulling at her bra. It’s the most glamorous that my character looked the entire time and she still looked dreadful. It was a really funny scene. I really enjoyed that Katherine and I laughed a lot about it.
Why should people tune in to watch The Syndicate?
Because it’s brilliant: it’s drama, it’s comedy, it’s following the lives of people that you will genuinely care about. It’s really well-written, really well-directed and shot and it’s got some fantastic actors in it as well. So definitely watch it!