Now more than ever, we need to see kindness on TV, insists Rafe Spall. The actor is talking ahead of the release of Trying, a brand-new comedy drama that's centred around growing up, settling down and finding love.
Written by former stand-up Andy Wolton, the eight-part series puts Spall and Cuckoo star Esther Smith in the roles of Jason and Nikki, a thirty-something couple desperate for a baby.
"It's just what the doctor ordered," quips Spall (37). "Because we, as a society, have had this enforced time of reflection and the result has been acts of kindness, altruism and community.
"This is a show about that. It's about people being good to each other and a lot of shows that are on at the moment - while enjoyable - are about people being mean to each other. There's enough horror going on in the world."
Packing witty one-liners, yet also set to pull on the heartstrings, the sure-fire hit follows the pair who, having struggled to conceive, make the life-changing decision to embark on the lengthy adoption process. Cue a whole new world of bewildering challenges.
But with their dysfunctional friends, screwball family and chaotic lives, will the panel agree that they're ready to be parents?
"I remember reading the first episode for my audition in this coffee shop and I was very dramatically sat at the table crying because it was so moving, but so funny as well," recalls Smith (33). "I just knew I had to be a part of this."
The duo put the affinity they felt with the script down to the relatable subject matter. "What struck me about it is just how real it is," Smith adds. "I've not gone through the process that Nikki and Jason have, so to get a greater understanding and feel part of that, that's something really special."
"It's sensitive and something you want to get right, so it's well researched," maintains Spall. "But it's funny in the way that life's funny - not in a knockabout comedy, naff way. It's observational and, as the show evolves, it starts to go further into the relationship, so I think anyone in a long-term relationship will be able to identify with lots of things in it.
"Esther and I's job is to get the feeling of a real relationship across and to muster the requisite chemistry to make it convincing. We want to create a portrait of a couple that an audience will be willing to spend a few seasons with."
As for the all-too-often "taboo" topic of fertility, the premise certainly gets you thinking, the twosome agree.
"I'm in my thirties and I don't have kids," muses Smith. "I've read a lot of things recently, or I've come across people who are talking about it, and when people do, you appreciate that, because so many people go through it.
"I wonder why it's not explored so much. People are getting better at exploring it, but I think something like this will open that up a little bit more, or maybe I am just more aware of it because I am in my thirties and that's obviously something that plays on my mind."
"It's given me perspective and I can definitely identify with the characters, so much as I know what it's like to get to a point in your life where you feel like something is missing," empathises Spall, who shares three children (aged eight, seven and four) with his wife, actor Elize du Toit.
"In my case, I wanted to have children and that's the same with these characters. But for different people, that can mean different things.
"The name of the show is Trying. We're all trying to figure it out and that might be getting to your early thirties and realising your career isn't where you want it to be, or your relationships.
"I was lucky enough to be able to naturally conceive, so I know what it's like to want children. But I don't know what it's like to want them and then to not be able to naturally conceive, so that was interesting."
It's just a relief to land something that doesn't portray those in their thirties as having their ducks in a row, Smith jokes.
"I find it a massive relief, reading it, because I definitely don't feel like I've got my stuff together - and I'm 33."
"No one really has, right?" Spall adds. "Even if someone seemingly has, like I've got three kids and all that, and you might think from the outside, 'Maybe you do', but far from it.
"I'm in the dangerous position of having children and not having my stuff together - that's really worrying."
"I feel like we're all just big kids wearing adults clothing, just pretending what it is to be a grown-up," Smith concludes. "Maybe that's what everyone is doing."
Trying is available to stream now on Apple TV+