Interview with producer Hal Vogel

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David Tennant & Emily Watson star in the multi-part political drama “The Politicians Husbandâ€? from writer Paula Milne. The miniseries’ main focus is on the characters of Aiden & Freya Hoynes, a rising political power couple in the Palace of Westminster.

However, things take a drastic turn when a leadership bid by Aiden backfires, and leaves him isolated in the House of Commons. This leaves Freya to take her husband’s place in cabinet, which ultimately begins to strain their marriage, as well as their careers.

Speaking to On the Box is the producer of The Politician’s Husband, Hal Vogel. He was also responsible for The Trial of Tony Blair and A Very Social Secretary.
 
Tell us a bit more about The Politicians Husband and how you got involved in it?
 
Well, the genesis of the story came from Paula, who many years ago had written The Politicians Wife. I think people for many years had asked her to do a sequel or a follow up, but I don’t think she was particularly interested.

Yet somehow in the back of her mind, she had been conceiving the idea of exploring a marriage which allowed her to see a woman being more successful than her husband. There’s always been a political marriage where the woman can be much more successful than her husband and that must have triggered something in Paula.

The idea sort of emerged from different conversations me and Paula had, in which we found and developed a story of a marriage under pressure. it was something we really got excited by. The BBC also got excited by the idea and had worked with Paula before. They just loved it, and got really behind it
 
David Tennant & Emily Watson star in the project. How did you get them involved?
 
They came in very early and both responded really well to Paula’s writing. Her work is so unique and brilliant if you look at it as pieces of writing, so they really responded to that, but had different reasons for signing on.

David was drawn to the idea of a character that wasn’t a friendly face that we’re used to seeing. This is a more darker, grown up, complex figure. He’s not particularly likable and does a lot of bad things throughout the story.

For an actor, that’s always interesting and allows him to explore dimensions of his rage which he isn’t usually able to do on TV. I think that’s what really drew him to the script and in a way it allowed him to play a very unlikeable political figure.
 
Emily I think quite mischievously loved the idea of playing a woman who finds her ambition and begins to relish it and starts becoming the dominant figure in the home. That for her was an exciting role to play. It’s a really modern part and really speaks for our time.

The thing I get watching it is that they are a really believable couple played by phenomenal actors who are very classy and bought stuff to the role. I feel that you’re watching a real married couple, going through the swings and roundabouts as they unravel throughout the rest of the series.
 
One of your characters has got Aspergers Syndrome. Can you tell us a bit about how you researched that aspect?
 
Paula many years ago developed a series about Aspergers which looked at the effects it had on the family. That series never got commissioned, so she chose to implement it into this series.

I think one of the important things was that we didn’t want to tell a dry, boring, Westminster story which is just about politicians obsessed with their political lives. So giving the Noah character Aspergers was really a way of bringing him to the fore.

Its an interesting condition we feel hadn’t been explored a lot on television. It really allows us to look at the family that have to deal with something that creates additional pressures and just ratchets it all up. Its something that Paula had a lot of experience in when researching for the other drama. She was in touch with a number of people when writing it, as well as doing a lot of additional research.

We also did certain preparations for it as well. We put the actor who played Noah in touch with someone we knew had Aspergers, and him and the director spent a lot of time together to get the character right. We spent a lot of time getting a realistic depiction of it before shooting.
 
There are also real life couples within Westminster, Did you talk to any of them to get a better idea of what the show would be?
 
No. Obviously that is something that is clearly out there, but we didn’t speak to them directly.

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