Newscast's Adam Fleming was guest-hosting the BBC's Broadcasting House this morning, which had actor Fiona Shaw CBE as a guest, looking through the newspapers, alongside columnist Sarah Vine and political correspondent Aletha Adu. And thankfully Adam is geeky enough to ask Fiona Shaw about her upcoming Star Wars role.
Fiona Shaw is probably best known around these parts for playing Petunia Dursley in Harry Potter, Marnie Stonebrook in True Blood, Jean in Inside No 9, and most recently the counsellor in Fleabag and Carolyn Martens in Killing Eve. But I remember her most vividly performing in Medea on the stage a couple of decades ago. But now she has been cast in the Disney+ TV series airing this autumn, Andor.
Fiona spilt possibly a little more than she should. For the first time, we learned that her character is called "Maarva" and that she gets to drive a spaceship. She also says that Andor is set a few thousand years before the events of Star Wars, which doesn't entirely map the previous statements that it leads into the events of Star Wars: Rogue One, also written by Tony Gilroy, but we will see.
On the show, Shaw states that it is "extraordinary to read something which is not about someone living in Dagenham and someone else in Birmingham. I do get to drive a spaceship, which I'd never done before, just about forty years too late, I'd have really enjoyed it."
As to the underlying themes of Andor, Shaw adds "It's socially realist, Tony Gilroy has written what he calls a theology of the universe and it is really in-depth; everything matters, a few thousand years before the original Star Wars. So when I was studying the original Star Wars, I realised I was just wasting my time, we were all 'prequelly' people… It's like Ibsen in outer space."
That would be Henrik Ibsen, the heavily influential Norwegian playwright, whose works include Peer Gynt, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, When We Dead Awaken, and The Master Builder and is the most frequently performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare. He is considered a primary influence on the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Miller, and James Joyce, and his plays were – and are – considered controversially subversive, socially campaigning, and often banned in his home country. Wonder if the same will be true of Star Wars: Andor?