Interview: Mandeep Dhillon On New Sitcom Avoidance

Interview: Mandeep Dhillon On New Sitcom Avoidance

Mandeep Dhillon stars alongside Jessica Knappet and Romesh Ranganathan in Avoidance, a warm and bittersweet comedy series about a man with severe conflict avoidance issues, who is forced to change for the sake of his son.

Jonathan and Claire are splitting up - well, technically Claire is splitting up with Jonathan who keeps insisting they just wait for the dust to settle.

But she is adamant, and most importantly, they need to tell their nine year-old son Spencer as soon as possible. Jonathan, who is in denial, runs away with Spencer to stay with his sister Danielle and her wife Courtney to avoid confronting his problems.

Jonathan insists it’s just a blip, and Dan is frustrated by his denial. Meanwhile, Dan’s wife Courtney is not a fan of Jonathan’s, and when Dan softens towards her brother and tells him they’re there for him, Courtney’s reaction is not so emphatic.

Avoidance, 9.30pm, Fridays from June 10, BBC One


Tell us about Avoidance and what audiences can expect from the show?

Avoidance is a celebration of what it is to be a loving and sometimes dysfunctional family unit. At its centre is Jonathan, a man who has some serious avoidance issues but who is being forced to change for the sake of his son. I think audiences will watch it and be able to relate. It’s a fun and bittersweet show.

Do you have any similarities to your character?

The only thing that is similar is that we share a slight OCD for needing things to be in order. I wish I had more similarities to Dan because I admire her so much, but the truth is, I don’t. Dan is very mature, something that I’m still working on and she can cook up a storm in the kitchen, again, something I’m still working on!

Do you have any favourite memories from filming?

I can honestly say this was the most unprofessional I have ever behaved on a set before! I would get the giggles almost every day and mid scene would just be crying with laughter which is a testament to the other cast members because they were so funny. One of the funniest scenes AND hardest scenes was the scene in episode 1 where you meet Dan and Courtney. Having to eat that disgusting frittata was AWFUL! Myself and Lisa would corpse every time it got close to me having to try some because it genuinely was disgusting to eat. I also loved filming the argument between Dan and Courtney in Episode 5.

How was filming with your fellow cast mates? Have you worked with any of them before?

I LOVE EVERYONE IN THIS CAST. Working with Rom, Lisa, Kieran and Jess was such a joy. We really did become a family on and off set. Rom is such a talented man, and the loveliest person I have ever met, we really have become brother and sister. Lisa, who is now my BFF, would have me crying with laughter in a take because she is so funny. Kieran is my spirit animal, and weirdly the same maturity level as me (he is 10, I am 31) and Jess loves my favourite Bollywood film, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and would even sing along to it with me. I mean what is not to love?

What were your first impressions of the script?

When I read the script I thought it was a perfect balance of funny, heart-warming and important. I was so happy to read a script where this beautiful blend of a family just existed without question of their race, culture and sexuality. These characters all accept one another just as they are, even Jonathan, who is a hot mess. It made me so happy to see a brown family on screen who represent what it is to actually be brown, NORMAL. It’s so important to me that people who look like me are seeing a true reflection of themselves on screen and for that I’m so happy that this show was even created let alone commissioned by the BBC.

You play a brilliant aunt in the show, does that come from real experience?

I really enjoyed playing an aunt to little Spencer. I am an aunt in real life and so I was able to transfer the love I have for my niece onto Spencer. I love my niece as if she were my own daughter and I have a lovely relationship with all of my aunts, so I really wanted to bring that into Dan's world. As I said before, Kieran is my spirit animal, we would make up songs and raps together and play silly games. He is basically on my level, or I’m on his level, so that made it so easy for me.

What can you tell us about Courtney and Danielle’s relationship?

Courtney and Dan's relationship is wonderful. I loved this dynamic. Courtney is basically a teenager and Dan is the therapist mum. You can tell they have been together forever there is such a level of comfort between them.

Interview supplied by BBC


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