Hope Springs: Sian Reeves plays Hannah Temple

In her own mind, Hannah’s not a “real” criminal – what she did was self-preservation. After years of abuse at the hands of her manipulative and sadistic husband, Hannah cracked and stabbed him with a knife leaving him permanently disabled. It was a shock for her to realise how much anger she had repressed.

“To start with going to prison was a fabulous relief for Hannah, because it meant she could get away from that horror of being on tenterhooks for every second of the day thanks to her controlling husband,” explains Sian Reeves who plays ex-con Hannah.

“Her husband wouldn’t allow her to have any money, she wasn’t allowed any friends and she’d be petrified about doing the wrong thing. She was utterly and totally controlled by him. So to be in prison wouldn’t have been hard for her because she was used to being controlled and told what to do. But at the same time, weirdly, I think prison gave Hannah her freedom,” adds Sian.

“What she likes about Ellie, Shoo and Josie is that everything’s very black and white. For once she knows where she stands.

“Whereas with her husband she had this veiled life for nine years where she never knew if he was going to come home at night and take his day out on her. So there is a terrible tension that is in Hannah and that makes me think this situation they find themselves in – hiding in this village and pretending to be other people – is perhaps the worst situation for someone like Hannah to be in. The stakes are so high, they are constantly looking over their shoulders.”

A coiled spring of buried emotions, Hannah masks this with her sensible demure and wry wit. She has a cautious, rational approach to problem solving, something which is in complete contrast to top dog Ellie’s (Alex Kingston) impetuous, intuitive, school-of-life knowledge.

In the village, Hannah works hard to ensure that the word “legitimate” becomes part of the girls’ vocabularies. For her, the thought of being banged-up again is truly unthinkable. As well as Hannah’s analytical abilities, she has practical domestic skills which are sorely lacking in her three friends. These skills give Hannah a new-found sense of purpose as she quickly finds her place within their new hotel business venture.

“She’s supposed to be a great cook which is a real stretch for me let me tell you,” laughs Sian. “In prison, Hannah was the head of the kitchen which she loved because she was given this respect and people loved her sausage and chips.

“Meanwhile, I’m a terrible chef but, fingers crossed, people will be watching it and thinking I’m Gordon flippin’ Ramsay. Hopefully I’ll be releasing a Hope Springs Cook Book next Christmas,” says Sian, with a smile. “Or maybe not. I’m really good at pretending to cook, but in real life let’s just say it’s not a thing that comes to me naturally.”

According to Sian, the actresses in the Hope Springs gang have become firm friends in real life and she believes this off-screen bond has helped their chemistry when in front of the camera as well.

“It’s very difficult to find that on-screen chemistry and I was very aware of it because of being in Cutting It, where we instantly managed to find a closeness. But I’m glad to say I think we did very quickly find it on Hope Springs as well and I hope that shows when you see us together on screen.

“It is funny when you work on a show like this because when you play a group of characters you’re together all the time,” says Sian. “I said to Alex the other day, ‘I am sick of looking into your eyes… I feel like I’m in love with you!'” she laughs.

“That’s how these awful television romances start between actors, because it’s so intense the amount of time you spend together, you are away from home and you start living this very insular kind of life. Not that I’m in love with Alex Kingston, but it’s like being in a family with someone except there isn’t that normal gradual period of time to get to know people properly.

“So you know lots of surface and lots of quite deep personal things about each other very quickly, that you would never normally share with people you haven’t known for long.

“All of us are very different kinds of people and so are our characters, which I hope will make it very exciting to watch. But even more importantly, on top of all that, I think I’ve made some really great friends.”

Hope Springs marks Sian’s return to series drama following a serious accident whilst rehearsing a stage adaptation of Vernon God Little in November 2007, which left her incapacitated and unable to work.

“I really thought my career was over,” admits the West Bromwich-born actress. “I fell down a trap door onto a steel ladder and punctured my lung and basically broke all around the whole top of my rib cage. As a result I’ve just been lying on my back in a bed for ten months.

“The pain was incredible and I’ve been very sad and down and was convincing myself that I was never going to work again. I really started to lose my confidence, which is so unlike me and it has been a really horrible journey for my partner and my daughter as well.

“So I was thrilled when Hope Springs came up. I was like: ‘Yes! This is exactly what I want to do next!’ and the best thing to get back to work in. It has that fun Cutting It vibe, Hannah’s a great character and it’s on BBC One. So I couldn’t have asked for a better comeback as it were – which really is what this feels like…”

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