Tamsin Greig admits she ‘probably shouldn’t’ have been cast in Friday Night Dinner12/07/2021
Friday Night Dinner: Tamsin Greig opens documentary episode
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Tamsin Greig, who has played several roles on Channel 4’s roster of sitcoms, considers her role as Jackie Goodman perhaps her most controversial part yet.
During her recent interview with The Telegraph, the 55-year-old shed light on the character and how the role would have been totally unacceptable in today’s society.
We are much more conscious today than we were when that show was first aired
“I think, given our sensitivity today about these issues, I probably shouldn’t have been in that show,” Tamsin, who is a practising Christian with Jewish ancestry, explained.
“We are much more conscious today than we were when that show was first aired.”
Friday Night Dinner ran for a whopping six seasons between 2011 and 2020, with the Maidstone native going on to star in just under 40 episodes.
For the show’s 10th anniversary in May 2021, a 90-minute documentary special aired on Channel 4, entitled Friday Night Dinner: Ten Years and A Lovely Bit of Squirrel.
The episode was dedicated to Paul Ritter, who had died the previous month from a brain tumour at the age of 54.
Tamsin continued telling the publication that while there are roles she would have loved to play — such as Cleopatra, the Queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt — she understands that landing such opportunities were better off handed to someone “from that area of the world” due to the obvious cultural differences.
“For instance, Cleopatra has long been on my list of roles to play but I have to step back from that now, because Cleopatra needs to be played by someone who looks like they may have come from that area of the world.
“That’s absolutely right. But I’ll keep Lady Macbeth on the list.”
While Jewish screenwriter Robert Popper created Friday Night Dinner, none of the main cast apart from Tracy-Ann Oberman were actually Jewish.
Tamsin’s comments about her controversial character on the Channel 4 programme come just weeks after comedian Sarah Silverman blasted Hollywood studios for seemingly pushing non-actors to play Jewish roles — which she refers to as “Jewface”.
The 51-year-old first touched on the subject after Kathryn Hahn was cast to star as the late Joan Rivers in the Showtime limited series The Comeback Girl.
According to Variety, after a vast amount of backlash and issues obtaining the latter’s life rights, the project was pulled at the end of October.
Taking to The Sarah Silverman podcast, the School of Rock star explained: “There’s this long tradition of non-Jews playing Jews, and not just playing people who happen to be Jewish but people whose Jewishness is their whole being.
“One could argue, for instance, that a Gentile [a non-Jew] playing Joan Rivers correctly would be doing what is actually called ‘Jewface.'”
Sarah argued that the practice is “f****d up”, especially when identity politics and “representation f*****g matters”.
In May, Tamsin paid tribute to Paul, who she recalled urging not to attend their 2020 anniversary special due to his ailing health.
Though the late actor was able to film a series of scenes with his cast, Paul died before the episode had aired on Channel 4.
“We all miss him terribly, an incredible actor, a true friend and a lovely human being,” Tamsin said.
“Sadly at the time of making the documentary, Paul was pretty unwell and to be honest – and don’t tell the producers this – but I did try and persuade him not to do the interview.”
Tamsin will next star in the comedy-drama My Happy Ending, opposite Tom Cullen and Miriam Margolyes, with a release date slated for 2022.
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