Downton Abbey star Brendan Coyle talks new Sky1 comedy drama, Starlings

Next Sunday, May 13th at 8pm on Sky1, we’ll meet the Starling family, which is headed up by mum and dad Terry and Jan Starling, who are played by TV legends Lesley Sharp and Brendan Coyle.

Brendan has of course most recently appeared on our screens as Bates in Downton Abbey, and at the end of the last series, Bates was in prison and awaiting his fate as he was of course charged with his wicked wife Vera’s murder.

And Lesley has of course also had a prolific career on-screen, including her role in hit drama Scott & Bailey, but for me, her most memorable role was as psychic medium Alison Mundy in ITV drama, Afterlife.

However, Starlings is set to be an infinitely more light-hearted affair for both actors, and given that it was co-written by Alan Partridge’s alter ego, Steve Coogan, we’re guaranteed some laughs…

Brendan has been speaking to TV Choice magazine about Starlings, and in doing so, he revealed that initially, he was nervous about taking on the role of dad Terry.

He said of the part, “When I got offered it, I got cold feet, because there’s nothing worse than a warm comedy-drama that isn’t warm or funny.

“But there’s a lot of great comedy in it, especially from the boys (John Dagleish and Ukweli Roach) and this brilliant grandad character (Alan Williams). I’m really pleased with it.

“There’s a birth in episode one. What was it like having a baby on set? We had twins playing the baby. When babies come on set, everyone melts, don’t they?

“They go a bit goo-goo. They were gorgeous babies, really well behaved. They had a really nice time, and they were treated better than everyone else!”

Brendan went on to explain that Starlings focuses on four generations of the family, who all live in close proximity, which of course brings its own set on problems, and laughs.

But for Terry, things can often get on top of him somewhat, and particularly given he has a heart condition.

Of that, Brendan said, “I didn’t know about the heart condition at first. But I think it’s to make things poignant, not to write me out!”

And finally, of working with Lesley, Brendan said, “It was just a dream. I was a fan of Lesley, as everyone is, and I always knew I’d work with her one day.

“But I thought it would be in some kind of tearing-our-hair-out, teeth-gnashing drama. Not something like Starlings, which is really lovely.

“The cast were great, and there was an ease, which really worked. We all stayed at a hotel in the Peak District – maybe that’s why it all came together so quickly.”

As mentioned, Starlings debuts on May 13th at 8pm on Sky 1, but in the meantime, here’s the show’s preview trailer…

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.