Asking an actor why they wanted to film on Australia’s Gold Coast is a bit like asking Debbie McGee about the appeal of marrying millionaire Paul Daniels.
For Dame Harriet Walter, the decision to star in Sky Atlantic’s latest drama, The End, wasn’t difficult.
“I’ve always thought I was born in the wrong climate because I hate being cold, and I hate being damp, and quite a lot of the time that is the situation in England,” she explained.
“I’ve loved being warm. I haven’t even minded being very hot, because it’s a novelty.
“I’ve loved the film crew and the whole work ethic in Australia. There’s something very un-phoney about everybody and it just doesn’t seem to be hierarchical.”
The star of Governess, Villa des Roses, Atonement and Man Up is starring as Edie in The End.
After a suicide bid, troubled Edie moves to Australia to be closer to her daughter – but they have a fractious relationship.
And it wasn’t just the weather which attracted Harriet to the part.
“I’ve been looking for a character around my age who is not stereotyped, who is not necessarily defined by their role in the family, but is concerned, perhaps selfishly, still, with their own lives,” she said. “For most of the story Edie is quite self-centred. She basically was airlifted out of England, plonked in the middle of not just another continent, but another season, straight into summer from winter.
“The writing is fantastic, and the theme is a serious one that I’ve been concerned with, and people are concerned with.
“When you’re getting up there in age, the subject matter becomes a bit more focused in the front of your brain.
“It was dealt with humanely and humorously and it isn’t frightened of confronting some very uncomfortable things. And it’s written by a young woman! And directed by a young woman! And a young man!”
Harriet plays a grandparent in the show and it’s a role she relished. “You’re in such a different space as a grandparent,” she added. “You are such a different person to the one who had children in their 20s and 30s…the state of your marriage and the state of your economic life, whether you’ve got any money, all those things condition who you are.
“And then, years later when you’re more at ease, you can give it back.
“I could tell my grandmother stuff that I couldn’t quite tell my mother.
“You suddenly realise that it skips a generation and there’s less burden on the relationship.”
The End, Sky Atlantic, Tue, 10pm