The award-winning actors ​discuss ​return​ing​ to their Liverpool roots to make Help, a powerful new Channel 4 film that unfolds at the start of the pandemic

Early on in the new Channel 4 drama Help, elderly residents at the care home where Jodie Comer’s character, Sarah, has recently landed a job celebrate Christmas in their paper hats and tinsel necklaces. The scene was originally longer, with a DJ spinning old-time discs. “Is there anyone around here who supports Everton?” he called, and Comer started jumping up and down, waving her hand in the air. “The whole storyline was that I was pretending that I was a Liverpool fan. And I was like: ‘Oh, shit, they can’t use that. I totally slipped out of character.’ And I looked at you, and you were like: ‘You’re killing it.’”

Comer’s reminiscing over Zoom with her co-star Stephen Graham, and – in their living rooms, in different parts of the country – they both dissolve into giggles. Interviewing them is like trying to steer a runaway train: they career all over the tracks, one minute talking to me and the next to each other, chuffing away in broad scouse accents. It’s not the sort of homey exuberance one would expect from Comer, who is best known as the ice-cool, multilingual psychopath Villanelle in Killing Eve. Neither is it the kind of on-set anarchy one might expect from Help itself, a relentlessly powerful and driven 120-minute drama documenting the UK’s care home crisis in the early months of the Covid pandemic.

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