‘Thirteen’ creator Marnie Dickens
I appreciated that he didn’t take up too much screen time but I also liked how when we finally meet him, he’s not like some indescribable monster but just a sad, fucked up, lonely man.
[The show is] deliberately from Ivy’s perspective and I felt quite strongly that I didn’t want to give [Mark] too much airtime because sometimes dramas do that and I feel like it kind of diminishes what the survivor’s gone through. But obviously he had to be a credible character. I think we were really helped by the casting of Peter McDonald. You do get a sense of his damage and I suppose what I wanted to get across is, love and control feel like they’re really close to each other.
I think you even see that with Emma and Craig — he was so understanding at first but there’s a moment when he starts to feel neglected, and he gets upset. I thought it was really interesting how all the men in this series reacted to a situation that wasn’t really about them.
I do feel sorry for the men in the show, especially Craig, because what I have to try to get across in not much time is, what has that relationship been like for all those years, with Emma? Her sister’s been missing, presumed dead. He would have had to be such a ballast, and not just to her — Christina [Emma and Ivy’s mother] kind of clung onto him, too. So he kind of has every right to feel a bit jilted by the situation, and I know that sounds like him being childish considering everything Ivy’s gone through. But what I really wanted to show was, there’s nothing simple about Ivy coming back. There’s nothing purely happily-ever-after about it. Everyone wants it to be that, but it can’t possibly be. It inevitably undermines Emma and Craig’s relationship.
We see how Elliott’s attachment to Ivy is clouding his ability to do his job, and then we see Tim also being swept up in the desire to save her. I love when Ivy and Tim’s friend Eloise says, “The whole night in shining armor routine’s a bit dated.” Can you tell me a little bit about how that aspect of the story came about?
Now that you pointed it out I can see the parallel with Tim. I wasn’t completely aware of that at the time but I was definitely aware of wanting Elliott to have that journey. Lots of people in the UK reacted badly to Lisa and really loved Elliott, and kept saying, “Why is she such a bitch?” And by the end of the series they were like, “Oh wow, she’s kind of doing her job.” I suppose what I feel is the norm in TV over here [in the U.K.] is that traditionally the man is very logical and unemotional and can see things for what they are, and the woman can be a bit histrionic and get easily upset. So I felt quite strongly that it should be the other way around. Lisa just had that objectivity and could see that Ivy is very damaged. She’s not horrible to her, she really is just trying to do her job. Whereas Elliott has this thing instantly of being really unnerved by what’s happened to Ivy and kicking into this protective role. But it means he completely loses sight of objectivity. That was a very deliberate choice.