Philip Cumbus is no stranger to the world of television having recently starred in The Rebel (Gold) alongside Simon Callow and Anita Dobson. Other TV credits include A Touch of Frost (ITV), Hope and Glory (BBC) and My Hero (BBC). Following in his father’s footsteps, Philip’s own son Arthur plays his 18 month- old son Sam in Girlfriends appearing in three scenes.
Philip’s current theatre credits include: playing Algernon opposite David Suchet in The Importance of Being Earnest; alongside Martin Freeman in Richard III and Lenny Henry at the Donmar Warehouse in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Regularly performing at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Philip is self-confessedly passionate about the works of The Bard and has returned to RADA to teach Shakespeare.
TV & Movie Scene were delighted to be invited to chat to Philip about ITV’s Girlfriends and his character, Andrew.
Thanks for talking to TV & Movie Scene, Philip – now we’re two episodes in to Girlfriends, we’ve seen some of Andrew’s background and have some knowledge as to why he’s only just told his mother (at her birthday party) about his choice of partner and the fact that he has children. How much of Andrew’s storyline did you know in advance when you were cast?
Yes it was a bold move to tell his mother at her birthday party wasn’t it? He was obviously confident that he was doing the right thing as that was quite a lot to deal with!
I knew nothing in advance, I had no idea who the character was and I read the scripts as they came. I was party to the unveiling of the character in the same way that the television audience have been. It was thrilling and exciting as Andrew’s private life was revealed.
Had you worked with Kay Mellor before?
I haven’t, worked with her before, I’ve been a fan but I’ve never worked with her before so the whole process from beginning to end has been a big learning curve. It was brilliant to be in the company of Kay, Miranda Richardson, Zoe Wanamaker and all these amazing actors and directors, it was a real privilege. I’ve also got Anthony Head as my dad and it was amazing to work with all of them, especially as its pretty much my first TV job so to suddenly be in a six part series working with all these experienced people is hugely exciting and every day I was on set I was watching and enjoying all the work being done around me, trying my best to keep my head above water!
Why do you think that Kay’s writing reaches out to so many people and her series are all so memorable?
She writes dramas that are full of life, full of story and she writes characters that people can identify with and reflect on from their own perspective. She manages to get a very human tone which is full of tragedy, comedy, darkness and absurdity – all of that mixed together makes it really accessible and entertaining.
What can we expect from Andrew as the series of Girlfriends continues?
There’s more of Andrew’s struggle as he tries to renegotiate his relationships with his mum and his dad. We also see him pursuing his profession and he becomes involved in the cruise ship story. Also with the sexual discrimination case he’s keen to pursue, we will see more of him as a Solicitor.
Andrew’s relationship with his mother is interesting isn’t it, because although he seems so frustrated with her – the love he has is coming through in his encouraging her to pursue the discrimination case.
He’s fiercely loyal and fiercely protective of her as well as fiercely angry with her at times. So he’s constantly battling with the fierce love and loyalty he has for her and the anger that she’s not fighting for herself more, she’s putting herself in vulnerable positions. They’re a mother and son who get on wonderfully and awfully at the same time. They frustrate each other, help each other out and make each other laugh. That was really vivid when I read it.
Finally, why should viewers carry on watching the rest of the series?
Every element which is engaging and entertaining about the first couple of episodes gets broader and richer. The darker aspects of the story plunge into deeper depths. I encourage everybody who’s enjoying it to stick with it as it gets better and better.
Thanks to Philip for a great interview, I’m personally loving the series and can’t wait for tonight’s episode!
Tune in to ITV at 9:00 pm to see what happens next…