We come from a very similar extraction, from my mum’s side, Jewish-European.
She is quite a reserved character, and she is an editor, she retreats, she is somebody who likes putting other people on show rather than herself.” , but Bonham Carter says she’s well placed to portray the reputedly formidable editor.
“Somebody I met 18 months ago said, ‘you should play Mary-Kay! “Really, I had never heard of her because I hadn’t read the book.
Well, when I got to know Mary-Kay and read up on it there is a lot that we share.
The book, which follows Nina’s life in the 1980s as nanny to London Review of Books editor Mary-Kay Wilmers’s two children, faced Wilmers’s initial reaction which was: “Christ, no, don’t publish!
” It has now been transformed into a five-part BBC drama starring Helena Bonham Carter – although Wilmers, whom she portrays, still had her reservations.
“I could sense that she probably felt a bit ambivalent about being played,” Bonham Carter concedes.
“Although I did say I would only do it if I got her blessing, and if I could keep the swearing in.
I got the first, but I didn’t really get the second!
” Wilmers needn’t have worried though, because, in addition to being portrayed by the twice-Oscar- nominated Bonham Carter, the story has been adapted by Nick Hornby, making his first foray into TV after his own Oscar nomination for the screenplay.
Bonham Carter has form for playing real people, having starred as Enid Blyton, Elizabeth Taylor, and even TV chef Nigel Slater’s stepmother, on the small screen, but with Wilmers the only one on that list still around to pass comment, the role required handling with care, as well as a name-change from Mary-Kay to Georgia.
“I met Mary-Kay and said: ‘Well, what shall we call us?