As streaming becomes more important than it ever has done, news of a brand new sitcom very much welcomed, particularly in such difficult times. Trying is new to Apple TV, and to mark the show’s release, we spoke to Rafe Spall and Esther Smith on the phone (of course). The pair play a couple who have been trying to have a child, but are unable to conceive, and so turn their attentions to adopting. It’s a funny, moving piece of new telly we wholeheartedly recommend, and it turns out the leading duo ain’t half bad either…
So what initially attracted you both to getting involved in this project?
Esther Smith: It was the writing. I remember getting the script and I was sat reading it in a coffee shop, and getting to the end of it having laughed by way through it. I thought it was a brilliant piece of writing and I wanted to be involved in. Then there was the character, she really resonated with me.
It’s a fascinating time in people’s lives, I’m 31 and there’s a weird middling period where you’re young enough to still be carefree but old enough to know better. Was it interesting for you guys to explore this time in our lives?
Rafe Spall: I think you get to a point in your 30s where you realise that there might be something missing. That might be a relationship or children or a job, career opportunities or whatever it is. I think that’s what your 30s are about really, trying to figure that out. Okay, the fun and hedonism and discovery of your 20s is over, and now there’s this feeling of right – let’s get down to business now, I think to get some things in place. I could definitely identify with all that stuff.
Do you both enjoy being in your 30s? When I turned 30 I was a bit trepidatious to begin with, but I’ve since learnt it’s a bit like your 20s, but you have a bit more money, and a little more sense.
ES: Definitely, I’m really enjoying my 30s for that reason, because I’m starting to think, what do I really want? What am I really about? And having the ability to explore that. It feels like the adventure is about to begin, you know? That’s a really lame thing to say.
There’s a scene at the very beginning of episode one where they leave a bar and realise they were the oldest there. Has that happened to you yet in real life?
ES: Yeah. Yeah. I went to Rowans Bowling, and that was a moment of realising, oh right, I am an old lady now. That’s happened a lot.
Despite being funny, the series is dealing with quite profound themes that many people will resonate with. The challenges in conceiving, the adoption process. Do you know much about the accuracy of the ordeal? How similar do you think these situations presented in the show are to real life?
RS: There’s people involved in the creation of the show who have had experiences of what it’s like to adopt, and I think when you’re depicting something that is particularly sensitive, because it may have been experienced by some of the audience, you need to do it right. So it has been meticulously researched and dealt with properly, you know? I didn’t know much about adoption before doing this show, I didn’t know what it involved and how difficult a process it is to adopt a child, so that was a real education for me. I’m pleased to be part of showing that to the wider world.
Is this quite a British way of dealing with hardships? To create comedy out of difficult life situations?
RS: Even the Queen said it in her broadcast to the nation recently. You do it in a stoic, good-humoured way that this country has always been like, and it’s something this country has always accomplished, and that’s true, even the Queen knows it. I don’t even know if it is necessarily British though, I think it’s being human, to find humour in the most desperate of situations.
You share a great chemistry on screen. Had you ever met before getting involved in this project?
RS: We did meet actually.
ES: Oh yeah, yeah we did.
Must have been memorable then?
ES: It was a real long time ago, but it was like ships passing in the night.
RS: Yeah it was years ago, but the first time we properly met each other was when we did the audition for the show and it was clear straight away that we liked hanging out with each other, which is important for a show of this nature, because you’re with each other a lot, and luckily if we get to do this for a few more years, we’ll be hanging out with each other a lot more, so it’s important that we got on, and that the chemistry is there. If we enjoy hanging out with each other, so will the audience.
I guess that’s something not to take for granted because without naming names, I imagine that isn’t always a given?
RS: Yeah, I’ve done things with people that I both disliked and thought were terrible at acting, so it’s actually really nice to work with somebody who is the opposite of both of those things.
ES: We’re spending so much time together as well, it’s such a relief to know that you’re going to be going into work every day and you like the person that you’re spending all your time with. In between the takes you can have fun, and especially when you’re dealing with something that at times is very emotional, it’s nice to know you have a friend in someone.
Having said that obviously at the moment with everybody self-isolating, a lot of couples around the country have been forced to now spend a lot of time with each other. Having played these characters that have to go through so much together and yet maintain a good-spirit – what is the one piece of advice you’d give to quarantined couples?
ES: Have seperate walks.
RS: Seperate walks, yeah. That’s a good idea. Go out and have some time on your own. Go off for a two hour walkabout, and then come back and get blind drunk and then they could be anyone next to you.
All eight episodes of Trying will be available to stream exclusively on Apple TV+ on May 1st.