The outrageously funny show about family, love and friendships allows viewers to feel seen
BY SIAN HOPKINS, IMAGE BY UKTV/AMY BRAMMALL
Saskia Chana, who has graced our scenes in shows like The Bisexual where she played Deniz, is part of the cast of a new TV comedy, Newark, Newark. Written by Nathan Foad, the show aired on 28 March on UKTV’s Gold channel, available on Sky, Virgin and Now TV. The comedy sitcom stars many famous faces including Matthew Horne, Beverley Callard and Bo Poraj. Set in the small working-class town in the East Midlands, the plot focuses on Maxine (Morgana Robinson), the manager of a chip shop who is trying to deal with her recent divorce and her son’s coming out. Saskia portrays the role of Claire, and trust us, she’s certainly an amazing character.
DIVA: What can you tell DIVA readers about your character, Claire? What is her role within the show and storyline?
Saskia: Claire is Maxine’s no-nonsense friend and employee at the chippy. She is direct and takes a lot of things at face value. She’s bundles of fun and like a part of the family, always mixing it up!
When I first read the script I was in stitches. It was full of GAG one liners which I love in comedy. Then, from a story point of view, it was rich, full of colour and vibrance. Nathan Foad is so talented.
What was it like auditioning for the role over Zoom?
It was weird but Beatrice Ray the casting director and Kenny Tanner the producer made me feel confident and supported to be able to go for it!
I remember I was wearing massive hoops and one dropped on the floor in a shouting scene. I chased it around my room mid audition, out of frame! Maybe it was that chaos that helped find an “in” to Claire.
We’re seeing an increase of LGBTQI British TV. How would you like to see this continue to evolve?
Well, I think it’s well overdue. For years people have and still fail to see themselves and feel represented in a really authentic way.
That’s so important and a privilege a lot of people don’t realise. It is good that people are beginning to listen more.
I think we could all listen more. Empathy is key.
Can you remember the first time you felt seen on screen?
There are a handful of characters, they are fleeting though. Being biracial, I hardly ever feel seen.
When Naomi Scott was cast in Aladdin I thought OMG she has the same mix as me, but she is very beautiful so not too relatable [laughs]. But things are changing.
How was the reaction of the community of Newark to your filming in Nottinghamshire as the East Midlands are quite an underrepresented filming location?
They are gorgeous and generous. I hope they are proud of what we did because we poured everything into the show! I have also been getting some lovely messages from people in Newark.
How did your experience filming Newark, Newark differ to your time on The Bisexual?
Well, I still can’t believe I am a part of either of them! I will say working on set with the actual creators of the shows I learned a hell of a lot.
I feel VERY lucky and grateful. They are both dream jobs with such a family vibe. I guess The Bisexual was a bit longer as there are six episodes.
What is one thing you hope viewers take away from the show?
I hope [the audience] comes away feeling elevated from anything they are dealing with in their lives.
I hope they are able to see that hope can be found in the most unlikely places and that they remember Newark as being a beautiful “tan” full of family, love and friendships.
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