Tamsin Greig clarifies Friday Night Dinner comment about playing Jewish mother

‘I think it was taken slightly out of context,’ said actor

Ellie Harrison
Tuesday 14 December 2021 11:08
Comments
Business Reporter: The cloud gambit: what chess can teach you about a winning hybrid cloud strategy

Tamsin Greig has clarified recent comments she made about her casting in the Channel 4 sitcom Friday Night Dinner.

In a recent interview, the actor had said she “probably shouldn’t” have played a Jewish matriarch In the show.

Greig, who is a practising Christian with Jewish ancestry, played the part of Jackie Goodman in the comedy, which follows a Jewish family living in north London.

“I think, given our sensitivity today about these issues, I probably shouldn’t have been in that show,” the actor told The Telegraph.

In a new interview on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Tuesday morning (14 December), Greig has now clarified her comments.

“I think it was taken slightly out of context,” she said. “What I meant by it was, if we were casting it now, we’d have had very, very different conversations about the necessity of casting me in it and whether the casting should have been wider.”

She added: “Ten years ago, who knew those conversations were coming? We do things thinking, ‘Oh, that looks like a really interesting role and actually it’s about a woman trying to survive in a wild family that seems to be falling apart.’ I think at that time that was a very resonant part of people’s lives.”

Paul Ritter, Tom Rosenthal, Simon Bird and Tamsin Greig in ‘Friday Night Dinner’

When host Emma Barnett clarified that the discussion was over Greig playing a Jewish role as a non-Jewish actor, Greig said: “That’s the conversation at the moment… We all make very different choices depending on the weather that surrounds us culturally, right?”

Friday Night Dinner ended after six seasons in 2020 following the death of one of its stars, Paul Ritter, of a brain tumour. Ritter had played the husband of Greig’s character.

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

The show was created by Jewish screenwriter Robert Popper but none of the cast – except Tracy-Ann Oberman, who played Auntie Val – was Jewish.

There are many examples of non-Jewish actors playing Jewish roles, from Rachel Brosnahan as Midge in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex to Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem in Mrs America.

Rachel Brosnahan in ‘The Marvelous Mrs Maisel’

There has been a rise in campaigning for Jewish representation on screen in recent years, with stars such as Maureen Lipman and Miriam Margolyes signing a letter in 2019 accusing the musical Falsettos of “jewface”.

US comic Sarah Silverman also recently said on her podcast: “Lately it’s been happening – if that role is a Jewish woman, but she is courageous, or she deserves love, or has bravery, or is altruistic in any way, she’s played by a non-Jew.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in