Set in the Twenties, the feature-length special follows a six-year-old Roald Dahl on an adventure to meet his hero, Beatrix Potter, played by Harry Tayler and French, respectively.
“It was very weird for me because I hadn’t hugged anybody,” she said.
“In the lockdown I couldn’t even hug my own husband because he’s a frontline worker and if he was going to live at home we would have to be in separate rooms and try and keep some distance. Otherwise he had to move out and I didn’t want that,” she said.
However, in the script for Roald & Beatrix – in which Brydon plays Beatrix Potter’s husband – there is a scene where the two characters hug.
We’d been tested and we could do it. We had permission and I went and hugged Rob and it was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m hugging another human’! And I did not let Rob go!’ I just had to say I’m really sorry Rob about this,” French said.
During the interview, French also said The Vicar of Dibley return this Christmas is a collection of “nine little short films”, in the form of three specials, which document the time since lockdown began in March.
“It’s basically Geraldine ministering to the Parishners with a kind of newsletter/sermon/community notices a bit like she would from the pulpit,” she said.
This week, French has received support from co-stars and fans after it was revealed that The Vicar of Dibley specials would include a Black Lives Matter tribute.
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Geraldine will reportedly say: “I don’t think it matters where you’re from. I think it matters that you do something about it because Jesus would, wouldn’t he? Until all lives matter the same, we are doing something very wrong.”
Following the reports, French received nasty messages from social media users who were angry by the news.
She received so many messages of abuse that the actor responded by sarcastically writing: “A lovely calm day, full of humanity, compassion and support all round...”
Richard Armitage, who plays French's on-screen husband Harry in the series, replied: “More love to coming to you than you’ll ever know.”
Many of French’s fans also sent their support to the actor, with one person writing: “Nothing warms my heart more that racists losing their s***.”
Another episode will pay tribute to actor Emma Chambers, who previously portrayed Alice Tinker in the series. Chambers died aged 53 after suffering a heart attack in 2018.
Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse airs on Sky One and NOW TV on Christmas Eve at 8:15pm. The first episode of The Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.
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