Jess Commons | Deputy Editor | Saturday, 14 February 2015

Emily Bevan From The Casual Vacancy Tells Us How It All Came Together

The Debrief: J.K. Rowling's book gets adapted for the telly

Rejoice all you Potter fans who haven’t quite got round to reading JK Rowling’s first grown up novel A Casual Vacancy yet (guilty, sorry), the first part of it's BBC adaption is going to be on your telly this very weekend.

For those expecting witchcraft and wizardry though, lay down your wands and give it a rest with the accio telly remote jokes; this story is less about the boy who lived and more about the man who died and exposed what a bunch of backstabbing knob jockeys his beautifully idyllic town is made up of. ‘The story is about this seemingly perfect community, this little English town,’ says actress Emily Bevan who’s in the drama. ‘It basically descends into a ruthless war when a very key influential figure suddenly drops down dead and there comes a vacancy on the parish council that needs to be filled and everyone suddenly has an agenda’.  Emily plays Mary, the wife of Barry, the man whose death kicks off the drama and who's played by the very excellent Rory Kinnear. ‘I was VERY intimidated by that!’ Says Emily. ‘I watch pretty much everything he’s in, the first time I met him I had a total fan girl moment.’

Emily as Mary Fairbrother


The Causal Vacancy, while it has it's funny moments; definitely isn't a comedy. It deals with heroin addicition, prostitution, rape and more death. Not quite your average countryside idyll. ‘When you scratch the surface of many communities, theres much more going on than meets the eye’ says Emily, referring to the storyline that involves a 16 year old girl who struggles to keep custody of her baby brother while her drug addicted mother descends further down to rock bottom. ‘It’s real life and it's harrowing, absolutely harrowing.  And I don’t think you see this kind of thing explored that often enough on television.'

The TV series isn't quite like the book; ‘My character in the book is saucy and has kids and is short and blonde’ says Emily who’s tall and dark and is minus a litter of sprogs in the adaption. How much input did J.K have in the production? 'She was an executive producer on the project, and her production company, Bronte, was making it. So she had a say in all of the casting. So yeah, it’s kind of exciting to think she knows who I am!' Did Emily get to meet her? ‘No, we didn’t get to meet her I think she wanted to give us some space. We did all get a hardback copy of the book with a little handwritten note in from her though which was very exciting!’

Most of the filming took place in the Costwolds which meant terrifying the locals; ‘There was one scene where I had to run through a crowd of Morris dancers and there were all these lovely families with their Barbours and their welllies and their labrodors looking at you going ‘what on earth is going on!’

The Casual Vacancy is on BBC1, Sundays, 9PM

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Tags: TV That Matters