Tamsin Greig elaborates on ‘Friday Night Dinner’ casting comments about playing a Jewish mother

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Tamsin Greig during the filming for the Graham Norton Show at BBC Studioworks 6 Television Centre, Wood Lane, London, to be aired on BBC One on Friday evening. (Photo by Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images)
Tamsin Greig has elaborated on comments she made about not playing a Jewish mother. (Getty Images)

Tamsin Greig has elaborated on her comments that she "probably shouldn't" have been cast in Friday Night Dinner.

The 55-year-old actor played mother Jackie Goodman in the Channel 4 sitcom co-starring the late Paul Ritter, Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal about a middle-class Jewish family's traditional Friday night gathering.

Greig — whose maternal Polish grandmother was Jewish — had told The Telegraph earlier this month: “I think, given our sensitivity today about these issues, I probably shouldn’t have been in that show.

Read more: Tamsin Greig says she ‘probably shouldn’t’ have played a Jewish mother

“We are much more conscious today than we were when that show was first aired.”

But she has now clarified the comments and said they were taken out of context.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Simon Bird, Tom Rosenthal, Tamsin Greig and Paul Ritter attend the
Tamsin Greig starred with Simon Bird, Tom Rosenthal and Paul Ritter in Friday Night Dinner a sitcom about a Jewish family. (Getty Images)

Greig told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: “I think it was taken slightly out of context. What I meant by it was, if we were casting it now, we’d have had very, very different conversations about the necessity of casting me in it and whether the casting should have been wider.”

She added: “Ten years ago, who knew those conversations were coming? We do things thinking, ‘Oh, that looks like a really interesting role and actually it’s about a woman trying to survive in a wild family that seems to be falling apart.’ I think at that time that was a very resonant part of people’s lives.”

Speaking directly about playing a Jewish role when she is not herself Jewish, Greig said: “That’s the conversation at the moment… We all make very different choices depending on the weather that surrounds us culturally, right?”

Friday Night Dinner ran over six series since 2011, and the cast all featured in the a 10th anniversary special, which aired in May — a month after Ritter had died at the age of 54 from a brain tumour.

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 18: Tamsin Greig of
Tamsin Greig's maternal grandmother was Jewish. (Getty Images)

The actor — who played father Martin Goodman in the sitcom — chose to keep his illness private up until his death.

Read more: Tamsin Greig urged Paul Ritter not to take part in 'Friday Night Dinner' special

Greig said afterwards: "Sadly at the time of making the documentary, Paul was pretty unwell and to be honest — don’t tell the producers this — but I did try and persuade him not to do the interview.

“It is a testament to Paul’s courage and generosity and dignity and complete lack of vanity that he wanted to participate in the documentary, to do an interview, and to really celebrate this little world that he’s been a part of and that he’s enjoyed so much over the years."

Watch: Friday Night Dinner's Paul Ritter died earlier this year

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