New drama ‘Finding Alice’ is far from bleak

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Alice, Nicola, Sarah, Roger, Charlotte, Nathan, Gerry, Minnie and Yasmina
Alice, Nicola, Sarah, Roger, Charlotte, Nathan, Gerry, Minnie and Yasmina

Writer Simon Nye, writer-director Roger Goldby and actress Keeley Hawes first met working on The Durrells and it seems when that series was over, they were keen to team up again. So, they’ve created their own new drama, Finding Alice.

The original idea came from Roger, but he admits that Keeley was part of the inspiration. He explains: “I was toying with how to tell a story about what happens to us when we die. Is heaven or hell the memory/legacy we leave behind? Then I just came around to grief. It seemed such a simple notion that touches everybody. And that it was the way to tell a story. To look at the person who is left behind and the effect of the death on that person and the memory and all the rest of it through grief. Something that touches us all yet still something of a taboo to discuss and confront openly.”

He adds: “Making [The Durrells] was such a brilliant experience, so it seemed obvious why not a woman whose partner has died and Keeley would be perfect. I took the idea to Simon first and he liked the notion. Then we took it to Keeley and thankfully she did too! It went from there.”

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If that doesn’t exactly sound like escapism, especially given our current situation, Roger is keen to point out that Finding Alice is far from bleak.

“None of us wanted to tell a miserable story. We wanted to tell something that was truthful and didn’t shy away from anything, but also a story that had a sense of hope and warmth. Also focusing on the humour that naturally is right next door to death, pain and loss.”

Central character Alice, played by Keeley, could be forgiven for thinking otherwise though as the series begins. She has just moved into a new home with her husband Harry (Jason Merrells) and daughter Charlotte (Isabella Pappas), but what should have been a dream turns into a nightmare when Alice finds Harry dead at the bottom of the stairs.

In the wake of the tragedy, Alice finds herself struggling not just with grief and her family (including her parents, played in a convincing bit of casting by Nigel Havers and Joanna Lumley, and her in-laws Gemma Jones and Kenneth Cranham), but with navigating her weird and wonderful new ‘smart home’, designed by the late husband.

Not only does she not know where the fridge is, it seems Alice may also not have known as much about Harry as she thought. It turns out his business was in debt, and that might not be the only secret he was keeping. Then the police turn up to ask some questions about the night he died… But as writer Roger points out, at least Alice isn’t likely to keep her feelings to herself: “Harry was a bit of a rock in their relationship. He would deal with money, the business and sort everything out. Alice was more spontaneous. Now he’s suddenly gone it’s like she’s lost her filter.”

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