The ability to capture an audience for a few seasons is quite credible for a comedy series. People do tend to get bored of them or the series just dries up due to the same old jokes and gimmicks. Even when changes are made to the sitcom to try and refresh the brand, it can fall flat on it’s face due to the audience not liking new characters or just plain old missing the characters that have left. The show “My Family”, however, managed to not only last for eleven seasons over the course of 11 years, but also made changes throughout the eleven seasons and stayed strong throughout the whole time.
“My Family” was a comedy series about a Dentist named Ben (Robert Lindsay) and his family, with many complications along the way that were either caused by their kids, their neighbours, their place of work, or just random happenings that they have no control over.
People thought that when Kris Marshall (Nick) decided to leave the sitcom, it would slowly wither away as he was one of the main forces for people tuning in. However, this was proven completely wrong, with the show lasting another 6 years before calling it a day.
“My Family” truly was a stronghold throughout the Noughties, with it being one of twelve UK sitcoms that managed to make it past 100 episodes when it finished in 2011. It allowed top talent to shine as well as bringing light to actors, allowing their careers to kick start.
As usual with this blog, I attempted to contact as many of the actors as possible who were a part of “My Family”. To my good fortune, I managed to get in touch with Keiron Self, who played Roger Bailey…
…along with Zoe Wanamaker, who played Susan Harper.
Keiron and Zoe were happy enough to answer the questions I had for them. Here is what they had to say:
How much of an impact (professionally and personally) did the show My Family have on your life?
Keiron: Professionally and personally, My family had a fairly large impact. But I was so busy working on both that and a sitcom in Wales called High Hopes and with a theatre company I have with a group of friends called Mappa Mundi, that I maybe didn’t push myself more to be on other television series. I was very lucky for 7 years in that I always had a job to go back to with so many great people and I was doing interesting theatre stuff at home in Wales appearing in plays like The Canterbury Tales, She Stoops to Conquer, Dangerous Liasons and many more.
Zoe: It had a huge impact, massive. I had never done a situation comedy before, which, as was the norm in the ’90s, was recorded in front of a studio audience. It was a new experience for me and was therefore exciting and challenging. For me it was an experiment which went well, in the same way as “Love Hurts” and “Paradise Postponed” had done earlier in my career.
Was there anything from the time at My Family would you have liked to have changed? If so, why?
Keiron: I think the thing you never fully appreciate when you are working on a a job is how lucky you are. I was aware of that to a certain extent, but could have done more. I wish I’d had a go at writing a script for the show. I write as well as act and although there were some great writers on the show, I wish I’d tried to write one myself. It would have probably be thrown out immediately but it was something I always thought about doing but didn’t.
Zoe: No, there was nothing I would change.
Is there anybody from the cast that you still keep in touch with regularly?
Keiron: Siobhan who played Abby I’m still in contact with. She’s so lovely and was a pleasure to work with, as was everyone else/ Rhodri who played Alfie lives round the corner from me now and we have the occasional meet up and pint when we can fit it in with our own families. We all send each other the occasional messages of support and general greetings. Usually there’s a drunken photo of the family sent to Robert on New Year’s Eve, that type of thing. Robert and Zoe are also patrons of our theatre company Mappa Mundi so we keep them up to date on what is going on with that. We are touring The Trials of Oscar Wilde around Wales in April and May this year, and inviting them along if they can make it.
Zoe: I’m in touch with Daniella (Denby Ashe) and Robert (Lindsay), as well as Milanka Brooks and occasionally Keiron Self.
What are you up to these days? What is your latest project in life?
Keiron: My latest project is as mentioned above. I’ve just done an episode of Still Open All Hours which was filmed in the studio next to the one we used in Pinewood for My Family so that brought a lot of memories back. It was directed by Dewi Humphreys too who directed many of the episodes I was in and got me in for my first episode. I owe him a lot! I’m also writing a feature film with my writing partner and friend Giles New. We have five features in development at the moment and are hoping one of them at least will come off!
Zoe: I have just finished filming “Britannia” for Sky and Amazon, where I’m playing Queen Antedia, and I also worked on “Babs” for the BBC.
If there were ever to be a reunion show in the future, would you be up for it? Or would you leave it as it was?
Keiron: I’d be up for a reunion show, so long as the script was good and everyone wanted to do it. There was no real full stop to the series as no one knew if it would be the last one as we did series 11, so yes, a rounding off would be pleasing. I always said Roger and Abby could have a spin off, opening a dental practice in Wales! I’d get her out of that nunnery that’s for sure!
Zoe: I would definitely be up for it, depending on the scripts (it is always about the writing). It would be a delight.
Is there anything else you would like to add for the fans?
Keiron: I’d just like to add that people have always been lovely about the series. I’m glad we brought a few smiles to people’s faces Thanks for watching!
Zoe: I think what I’ve found is that people loved My Family and what is so charming is that when people who have been fans of the show meet me they smile, which is a wonderful legacy. They seem to have really enjoyed sitting down as a family and watching an episode of My Family on a Friday night. It was ageless.
I’d like to personally thank Keiron and Zoe for taking time out of their busy schedule to answer my questions, it was very much appreciated. If you want to say hello to Keiron, feel free to visit his website here, or you can talk to him on twitter here. Or if you want to see what Zoe is up to, feel free to visit her website here or drop her a message on her twitter here.
Robert Lindsay (Ben) went on to star in other TV series since My Family finished, such as Atlantis and Wormwood, along with still performing in theatres.
Kris Marshall (Nick) went on to be the face of the BT adverts and is now currently starring in the TV show Death in Paradise.
Daniela Denby-Ashe (Janey) has recently starred in the TV show Silent Witness and is currently filming in an upcoming film called Heidi: Queen of the Mountain, so keep your eyes peeled.
Gabriel Thomson (Michael) has given up acting and is pursuing Higher Education by studying in Philsophy at degree level, with the hope of eventually becoming a Human Rights Lawyer.
Since leaving the show in 2009, Siobhan Hayes (Abi) went on to star in Horrid Henry: The Movie, whilst also making appearances in Doctors, Holby City and Crime Stories.
Rhodri Meilir (Alfie) is currently starring in the highly rated Welsh TV series “Byw Celwydd”