By ‘eck! Southerner Joe Sugg is cast as a TV Yorkshireman by top writer who has long complained about Northerners’ shortage of roles
The role of Sam in The Syndicate’s new series, about a group of lottery winners, went to Joe Sugg, the former Strictly Come Dancing winner who grew up in Lacock, a village near Chippenham.
As one of the most influential names in British drama, writer Kay Mellor has been vociferous in advocating for more Northern actors on television.
But when it came to casting a Yorkshire character for her new BBC1 series, she turned to a YouTube star hailing from Wiltshire – more than 200 miles to the south and well below the Watford Gap.
The role of Sam in the new series The Syndicate, about a group of lottery winners, went to Joe Sugg, the former winner of Strictly Come Dancing who grew up in Lacock, a village near Chippenham.
And the 29-year-old admitted he needed coaching to cover up his West Country twang.
“I put on a Northern accent,” he said. So knowing I’m not really from the north, it’s like hearing your voice for the first time. I have a lot of fans from the North, so I was worried about a stereotypical Northern accent. ‘
He also admitted that he was surprised to be cast in the drama – his first acting role – and suffered from ‘terrible imposter syndrome’ on set.
His character is the friend of Roxy, a member of a syndicate of dog kennel workers whose lottery numbers are popping up. The cast also includes Staffordshire-born Neil Morrissey and Ms. Mellor’s daughter, Gaynor Faye, from Leeds.
At a publicity event to launch the show, Ms. Mellor, 69, revealed that if she won the lottery, she would create an organization for young writers and actors in the North, which she says is often ignored.
As one of the most influential names in British drama, writer Kay Mellor has been vociferous in advocating for more Northern actors on television. But when it came to casting a Yorkshire character for her new BBC1 series, she turned to a YouTube star who’s from Wiltshire
“I would probably start some kind of studio where I could nurture new young writers and attract actors, and bring actors together with writers,” she said.
‘I think it’s vital that Northern England is represented in mainstream drama, not just soap operas. Northern dramas have a different feel to me because it feels like these are my people. ‘
And she praised Sugg’s northern accent, adding, ‘It was a long shot that he could do it … but he took the lead really well and listened. I think he will be a great actor. ‘
Sugg, who won Strictly with Australian professional dancer Dianne Buswell, who is now his girlfriend, is being touted by BBC bosses as one of the future stars – not least for following eight million YouTube subscribers on social media and 5.5 million fans on Instagram.