Ruth Madeley on “Years And Years”
Ruth Madeley exploded on to the scene with a Bafta-nominated turn in Don’t Take My Baby, and her stock continues to rise.
Her latest project, Years And Years on BBC One, promises to be TV gold – Russell T Davies writes, while Emma Thompson shines as a Faragian politician whose popularity proves troubling – with Ruth playing the key role of Rosie, part of the Lyons family whom the action revolves around.
We caught up with Ruth to talk Years And Years and more…
Huge congrats on Years And Years – how did the gig come about?
Thank you so much! My agent sent me through Russell’s scripts and I completely fell in love with his story, especially the character of Rosie. When I went in for my audition I fell even more in love with the whole concept. I feel so honoured to be part of such a special and important piece of television drama.
Did you keep your sh*t together when you met Emma Thompson?
I tried my hardest I swear! There is a part of the story when our characters meet. Rosie is really excited to meet Vivienne Rook and I tell you there was absolutely no acting required on my part – I genuinely was that giddy about it! Emma is a joy to work with and the true definition of professional. I couldn’t keep my eyes off her during her takes. She’s incredible and working with her is definitely bucket list stuff.
Please tell us she’s everything we’d hope and more?
She absolutely is – 100%.
What can you please tell us about the show without giving away those sweet, sweet spoilers?
Years and Years is an epic drama about how one family in Manchester is affected by unstable political, economic and technological advances over 15 years. It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s beautiful and I’m so excited to see what people make of it.
This golden age of TV continues – how does it feel to be a part of it?
Television drama just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it? So it feels really special to be part of this generation and especially be part of such an important production.
How you caught your acting break is a remarkable story – what told you to take the audition? Was it just gut? Was there doubt?
Yeah, at the time, I had no acting experience whatsoever. I studied scriptwriting at university and I heard the BBC wanted a wheelchair user for a CBBC drama and they couldn’t find one. I wanted to learn more about the casting process so I went along to the audition just to be nosey! As soon as I stepped in the room I knew I was meant to be there – even though I was absolutely terrified!
Some people don’t try because they don’t think they have a chance. You’ve proved that if you don’t try, then you never know (the audition story is a case in point). Are you aware of what an impact you’ve had in that regard?
I’m a firm believer in making yourself do things that scare you and taking any chances that come your way. I would love for someone to hear my story and have that encourage them to take a chance they never thought they’d have.
Have people reached out to say what an inspiration you are?
It’s always so lovely to hear that you’ve inspired something in someone. I’ve had such great support from people close to me and from people I’ve never met, especially young people with disabilities who want to be part of the industry. If I can make their path into this industry a little easier then I’m doing my job right.
Don’t Take My Baby feels like the national breakthrough – how did you cope with everything? As in, one moment you’re a screenwriter. Fast forward a few months, and you’re the lead role in a major drama on their way to a Bafta nomination
It still doesn’t feel real, to be honest! I just feel so lucky to be doing this for a living! Don’t Take My Baby was such an important story and it’s a privilege to say that was my first lead. Since then I’ve enjoyed every second of my work and been part of some amazing productions as well as bringing more disability representation into the media. I’m just trying my best to make a positive impact and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts!
To anyone looking to pursue acting, what advice would you give?
Networking is key. I’m a bit like a sponge. I love learning from everyone I work with and I always try to talk to as many people as possible. Go to events, workshops, classes – anything where you can learn more and meet more people. Collaborate with like-minded people and make your own stuff. It’s a tough and unpredictable industry but it is equally exciting and you meet some incredible people.
Do you have a dream role you’d love to land?
I’d love to do a feature film. A Marvel film would be incredible! A powerful female superhero with a disability is definitely needed!