Family dramas are always an interesting watch - but especially BBC One’s Us. Georgia Humphreys hears more from the stellar cast.

Adapting a novel for a new TV series is always a risky move. Especially when it’s a book by much-loved author David Nicholls, also known for One Day, The Understudy, and Starter For Ten.

But fear not – BBC One’s Us is a hilarious, poignant and relatable watch.

The story starts rather dramatically, with a marriage breakdown; we see Douglas Petersen (Tom Hollander) blindsided when his wife Connie (Saskia Reeves) tells him that she’s not sure she wants to be married to him anymore.

The announcement comes just as they are about to embark on a family grand tour of Europe but the couple decide to still go on the trip, with Douglas vowing to win back the love of his wife and also tackle his troubled relationship with their teenage son, Albie (Tom Taylor).

“Lots of people live long enough these days to simply want their life to have other chapters,” notes Hollander, 53, known for BBC shows such as sitcom Rev and thriller The Night Manager.

“And so it’s a story about that, rather than some scandalous betrayal or some terrible moment in which one person let the other person down. It’s a story of hope – because something is ending doesn’t mean it’s the end of everything, seems to be the moral of the story.”


What’s particularly lovely to see as Us progresses is how Douglas and Connie’s relationship with Albie changes over the weeks that they spend away.

“Albie’s not really keen on going on his parents’ journey to revive their marriage, he’s kind of over it,” suggests Surrey-born Taylor, 19, who starred in BBC hit drama Doctor Foster.

“His dad is very much about science and maths, and Albie wants to be an artist. You eventually start to see the son and dad become a bit closer over three weeks – they experience a lot with each other.”

It’s not exactly smooth sailing on the way, and Douglas’s relationship with his son breaks down early on in the trip.

“Albie can’t take it any more and disappears, and so then it becomes them hunting for Albie,” reveals Hollander. “It all falls apart and it does turn into the holiday from hell for quite a long time, which will be fun. People who haven’t been able to go on holiday this summer, it will offer them the opportunity to go on a virtual holiday... they may not regret the staycation quite so much!”


Making the four-part drama saw the cast on location for about three months, during which they went to four different countries.

They spent time filming at tourist hot spots such as Paris’s Louvre, which was closed for the day for filming, along with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Muro gallery in Barcelona.

“We had this incredibly privileged experience of being near these paintings, which normally you would have to wait to see,” reflects 59-year-old Reeves. “That was fantastic.”

Londoner Reeves agrees it was a real bonding experience to be working abroad together for so long. “Also, the first three weeks we shot all the stuff in the family home from beginning to end – that was a nice way to begin the whole story.”


Us isn’t a melodramatic script with lots of big fight scenes; a lot of emotions and feelings are left unsaid, which can be challenging, admits Hollander.

“On the one hand it’s easy that you don’t have to imagine something that is possibly outside your experience, in the way that you do if you’re acting in something with real high melodrama,” he elaborates. “You’re not playing ‘make believe’ quite so much.

“On the other hand, you can be lulled into a false sense of security, where you go, ‘Well, this is so ordinary, I can just mooch my way through it’. And, actually, to do it really well you need to bring real depth to it and then it would become really great. That’s the challenge.

“It’s not as hard as it would be if someone said ‘You’ve got to jump on that horse, and ride through that burning building and then cradle your dying loved one in your arms’. You didn’t have to do any of that – but you did have to make an Ocado delivery completely authentic.”

Reeves says: “What makes it such a successful book is David’s written this story about a break-up of a marriage and it’s the wife trying to spread her wings and trying to run away from getting older. That’s what makes it refreshing, because it’s from an unusual point of view.”


The drama feels timely, considering that a lot of couples and families have probably experienced exacerbated tension over recent months.

“Well, my son is 18 now and will be 19 at the end of the year, and things have got a bit sticky,” confides Reeves. “But I think that’s because he feels so exposed because we’ve all been under the same roof for so long.

“There are things between Douglas and Albie ... He just walks into his bedroom and starts telling him X, Y and Z, and the disdain from Albie’s face to his father. I thought, ‘I’ve seen that at home quite recently!’”

Us starts on BBC One on Sunday.