WORST Wedding Ever is a comedy about a family wedding, and a mother-of-the-bride who can’t resist trying to take over her daughter’s all-important day.
She is determined her family will pull together to throw a ‘do’ to remember – and keep up with those all-important Jones’ while they do it.
“People will relate to an awful lot of it,” laughs actor Carolyn Pickles, who plays the mother.
“My character is very family-centred, and she wants her family together the whole time,” she adds. “She has two daughters, and she has been rather over-indulgent.”
But her heart is in the right place, she insists.
“I liked her from the moment I read the script,” she says. “She is a great character, and everyone behaves the way they do for a reason.”
Pickles, 62, played local newspaper editor Maggie Radcliffe in TV’s Broadchurch and says she is overjoyed to be reunited with writer Chris Chibnall on Worst Wedding Ever.
“He’s the loveliest man and the least egotistical writer you could meet,” she says. “He’s been working with the cast and he has been so open to any suggestions we make. He’s been developing everyone’s back story and making the characters real, which is so important because otherwise no one will identify with them.”
The characterisation and wide sweep of Broadchurch – showing the impact of a murder on a whole community and from multiple perspectives – was part of its appeal, and Pickles said she knew it was something special as soon as she read the first script.
“There was a buzz about it,” she recalls. “I thought it would be big, although not quite as big as it was!”
The audience were kept in the dark when it came to ‘whodunnit’, and they weren’t the only ones – the cast only found out just before filming the end of the five-part drama.
“We had a chart in the make-up room on who we thought did it,” says Pickles. “I thought I’d done it at one point!”
Pickles grew up in Halifax, where she wanted to go on stage as a shy grammar school girl. She auditioned for the school play, but didn’t get the part she wanted. “I ended up playing Second Moth,” she laughs.
Undaunted, she went back to audition the following year, and this time landed one of the main parts.
After school, she studied drama at the University of Manchester and then set about building a career in the business. Acting was not a big unknown to her – she is a niece of Christina Pickles (Ross and Monica’s mother in hit US TV show Friends) and her great uncle was radio and TV personality Wilfred Pickles.
“When you have got people in the family it’s not like some kid who wants to go on stage and doesn’t know how to do it,” she says. “It’s easier.”
She has starred in many TV series, and appeared in films such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, but she would advise anyone just starting out to hone their craft on stage.
“It’s where you learn,” she explains. “And then you can bring what you’ve learned to film. My first job was touring around arts centres in an old butcher’s van, travelling though the night after each show. It was hard, but I got my Equity card.”
Pickles has visited Salisbury several times, seeing plays performed at the Playhouse, and also filming in and around the city.
She said she is delighted to be back in the area, and enjoying her stay in a village on the outskirts of the city.
“It’s gorgeous,” she says. “I’ve been walking along the footpaths by the water meadows, and it’s just lovely.”
* Worst Wedding Ever is at Salisbury Playhouse from March 27 to April 19. Tickets on 01722 320333 or at salisburyplayhouse.co.uk.
Q&A with Carolyn Pickles here.
Interview with writer Chris Chibnall here.