Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Johnston: Lapland a dream come true

Sue Johnston stars in Christmas drama Lapland
Sue Johnston stars in Christmas drama Lapland

Sue Johnston has revealed she is a Christmas fanatic who likes nothing more than blasting out the carols while decorating her tree.

"I had such lovely Christmases as a kid, I carried it on with my son," she explained. "Now it's tradition to make it a big deal. I adore it."

The 67-year-old, who rose to fame playing Sheila Grant in now-defunct soap Brookside, has become better known for her turn as Barbara in The Royle Family.

Yet, while many of her Christmas memories are fond, the Manchester-born actress also recalled at least two difficult times.

"There's an expectation for all of us that Christmas can mend something in our lives, but it doesn't," she said.

"It can exacerbate tensions and grief, bringing to the fore things you're not dealing with" - a reference to the not-so-festive seasons she spent recovering from breaking up with her first husband and dealing with her father's death.

And this sadder side of Christmas is explored in her latest project, Lapland, a comedy drama about a large family who decide to visit Father Christmas rather than face a mournful Christmas at home.

For Sue, who loved working with the children who play her grandchildren, the job was a dream come true. They were "very sweet, very naughty" she said.

The whole experience helped to make up for the cancellation of the planned Christmas special of The Royle Family. "I was disappointed only that I wouldn't see them all," she says. "Christmas starts for me when [the cast] are all on that sofa with those terrible decorations, and it's a bit like your own family because the same decorations come out every year!"

:: Lapland is on BBC One on Christmas Eve.

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