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Fay Ripley opens up to our sister publication Woman's Weekly on why Jenny’s storyline really matters to her.
In the 23 years Fay Ripley has starred in Cold Feet, her character Jenny Gifford has been through many trials and tribulations. But Fay reveals that playing Jenny this time around has been her biggest challenge to date.
In the upcoming series, Jenny has just finished her treatment for breast cancer, and Fay, 53, explains how she felt a duty to tell the story accurately – especially as her stepmother has the disease in real life.
Struggling to hold back the tears, Fay says, ‘She’s in recovery and if I even talk about it, I’ll cry, because she’s so incredibly sweet about it.
‘She’s fine, she’s good, but she rings me after every episode as it’s so hard for her to watch.’
Fay continues, ‘The added responsibility of not wanting to get it wrong means you definitely try a bit harder. Let’s say it’s a party scene, and you’re drunk and you’re having an affair – you can’t get it that wrong. But suddenly, if you’re playing someone with breast cancer and you’ve talked to thousands of people about their journey, whether it’s on social media or on the street, or with your friends and family, it really matters.’
Fay tells us that her on-screen son, Adam, is exactly the same age as her daughter, Parker, 17. This is because Fay was eight-and-a-half-months pregnant when they filmed the first series, so they made her a mum in the show.
In this series, there is a scene where Adam wishes Jenny was dead, which Faye found very tough to film and she fought to get it ‘softened’ from the original script.
Fay explains, ‘I’m a mum and I have a kid, and I know my child says, “I hate you”, and I know my child says, “I wish for a new family”, but I don’t think, when your mum has cancer, you’d say the very thing you’re most scared of.’
And Fay believes it’s these elements of caring and duty that has made Cold Feet so successful — and is perhaps the reason it’s still on our screens after 23 years.
Talking about her co-stars, Fay explains, ‘We’ve all been on the journey together, and it may mean we care too much in a way — if there is such a thing. We don’t just turn up, it’s not just a job any more.’
But the success of Cold Feet also has a downside for Fay — when it comes to fans asking her for photos. ‘Most of the time, people are very nice,’ she says. ‘My only criticism is if you can see I have no make-up on, please don’t take a picture. I’m just embarrassed. It’s all on a manageable level though, no one’s pretending I’m Madonna!’
But there are two people who aren’t fans of seeing her on the telly — her children, Parker, 17, and Sonny, 13. And with their dad, Daniel Lapaine, starring in The Durrells, it gets even harder.
‘My eldest freaks out when she watches me on the TV because of the lovemaking! She doesn’t like to see her dad doing it either,’ Fay laughs, before adding, ‘I have to say, my husband gets a lot more action than I do! He’s never out of the bedroom!’
It’s the ‘lovemaking being very good’ that Fay jokes is the reason her character Jenny, and John Thomson’s character Pete, are still happily married 23 years on from the first episode of Cold Feet.
She says, ‘I think the audience feel that Jenny and Pete have been through lots of ups and downs.
‘They’ve been together since they were 15, and there is longevity to their friendship. How do you define a good marriage anyway? Theirs is as good as anyone’s.’
And with the ongoing success of Cold Feet, Fay says she can’t see any reason why we won’t be still be watching Jenny and Pete in their 70s!
She finishes, ‘It’s down to ITV, but certainly, with what’s happening at the moment, it looks like there will be some life beyond this series, so watch this space…’
Cold Feet continues on Sunday, ITV