The Street: Ruth Jones plays Sandra.

Ruth Jones takes the role of Sandra.

A rather sad, isolated young woman, she works alongside Eddie (Timothy Spall) in the control room at Alpha Zero Cabs. She takes a shine to her colleague and, noticing that he is struggling to cope while his wife Margie (Ger Ryan) is away caring for her sick father, starts to make him lunch.

The two work mates begin to grow closer – he mends a window pane at her home. When Sandra lures Eddie back to her flat one evening, she makes a move on him. He feels desperately sorry for this lonely woman, but will he succumb to her advances and jeopardise his marriage to Margie?

Ruth, who has become a major star since playing Nessa in, and co-writing, the hit sitcom Gavin And Stacey, says she was delighted to land a part in Jimmy McGovern’s The Street.

“I was thrilled to get the call for this,” enthuses the actress. “I’ve always been a huge fan of this show. It’s one of the finest drama series around.

“The moment I saw it, I thought, ‘that’s TV drama at its absolute best’. The casting is always amazing. It has a compelling premise and brilliant ingredients. As a writer, I’m constantly watching The Street and thinking, ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ It always keeps you on the edge of your seat.”

Much of Ruth’s work thus far has been in comedy. She made a name for herself as the barmaid Myfanwy, patiently dealing with the strops of Dafydd, ‘the only gay in the village’, in Little Britain. So she was particularly pleased to be offered this more serious role.

“For me,” she says, “it’s an enormous compliment to be considered a straight actress and not seen as solely a comic actress.”

Ruth, who has also had significant parts in Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Little Dorrit and Torchwood, goes on to contemplate the character of Sandra.

“She works with Eddie in the control room at the cab office. She catches him when he’s at a low ebb. She’s a lonely person and latches onto him. She views him as a friend and sees in him things that others don’t see.”

The actress, who has also appeared in Nighty Night, Saxondale, I’m With Stupid, Fat Friends and East Is East, says Sandra “is not intentionally destructive. She’s quite a loving soul but she causes a stir in a gentle way. She’s quietly manipulative.

“She’s always been on her own and has lived her life without anyone paying any attention to her. So when Eddie, who is a big-hearted guy, comes to her rescue and mends her window, she is instantly drawn to him. It’s a simple act of kindness of his part, but she reads more into it.”

Ruth sighs: “It doesn’t end joyfully for either of them. It makes them both think about where they are in life. In true Jimmy McGovern style, when their paths cross, there is a significant knock-on effect. Sandra is part of the domino effect which is what makes The Street such a great drama.”

The actress praises Jimmy’s writing: “I love Jimmy’s writing. He sees people as they really are. He’s really good at portraying anti-heroes. He is always able to find the heroic in a non-hero. Eddie is just like that.”

Ruth adds: “The joy of the series is that you dip into a character’s life one week and the next week he or she is gone. That’s really brave in this day and age. You’re dropped in at the deep end with a character and, because Jimmy’s writing is so strong, you immediately know what’s going on.

“You could ask, ‘would all those things happen to all those people in one street?’, but none of us knows what’s really going on behind closed doors.

“The Street is such a great premise because there are a series of doors and no one knows what’s happening behind them. The public persona people present on the street is very different from what goes on inside.

“Another added bonus for me was getting to work with director David Blair again, who also directed Tess. His attention to detail is remarkable and he gets so much out of people’s performances. I love working with him.”

Ruth closes by praising her co-star: “Timothy has always been a hero of mine. I loved him in everything from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Shooting The Past to all the Mike Leigh films he’s done.

“He’s such a subtle actor. There’s always so much going on beneath the surface. He has huge depths.

“I must say that, beforehand, I was nervous because he’s done so much great work and I was in awe of him. But in the event, it was delight. Tim is a joy to work with!”

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