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Trying stars Rafe Spall and Esther Smith open up about season three's unique challenges, losing Imelda Staunton and the show's future

Season three is now streaming on Apple TV+

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Eve Crosbie
Eve CrosbieTV & Film Writer
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Trying is, without a doubt, the sweetest show on television right now. Starring Rafe Spall and Esther Smith, the Apple TV+ sitcom follows a couple on their journey to become parents.

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While the first two seasons saw them struggle to conceive and, as a result, explore other paths to parenthood, season three sees them thrown straight into the deep end as they become adoptive parents to not one but two youngsters. We sat down with the stars of the show Rafe and Esther for a special HELLO! Spotlight Digital Cover to talk all about season three's unique challenges and the pair's new pint-size co-stars in the form of Eden Togwell who plays Princess and Mickey McAnulty who plays Tyler.

trying spotlight Cover

They also discussed what it was like to lose the inimitable Imelda Staunton this season, as the scene-stealing actress was too busy working on Netflix's The Crown to reprise her role as the couple's social worker, Penny. Plus, they also revealed whether a fourth season is on the cards and the surprising roles they would love to play…

Hi Esther, hi Rafe! Thanks for joining us! We're so pleased that Trying has return for a third season as it is just such a wonderful show. To start with, tell our readers where Nikki and Jason find themselves in season three…

Esther Smith: Well, we've just come from finding an extra child in the boot of our car, which was unexpected, and then this series kicks off straight after that, where basically we don't know whether we're allowed to keep them or not. So we have this day where we just think, "Well, we're just going to be both their parents for one day" because they don't want to split these two siblings up, and it's really important for them to stay together.

WATCH:  The first episode of Trying season three is available to stream on Apple TV+ now  

But sadly, they're not approved for two children, they're just approved for one. So the whole series is basically their fight to prove that they can keep both of them. But of course, other challenges happen along the way: they're potentially going to lose their flat - which would obviously impact and keeping the children - and also they get to see what they are actually like as parents, which is not exactly what they thought they would be like, particularly for Nikki!

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We've been on a whole journey with the two of them and it's so nice to see that they've got to a point where they have what they always wanted - a family. But as you say, it's not without its challenges, but for you two, what were the biggest challenges this series?

Rafe Spall: I think when you get a third season, what you're looking for is a sort of consistency, really. I think hopefully, you want to keep what was ever successful in the first season that was sustained into the second to build on and carry on in the third, and so I'm really confident that it's got that same level of quality, and I think it's a really satisfying season for various reasons.

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At the core of the show, we have Nikki and Jason's relationship, but there are also great storylines with the sort of supporting cast, we've still got gorgeous locations - Camden is still a massive character in the show - and then there's the writing. This is one of the only TV shows where every episode has been written by the same person. I mean, that just doesn't happen in this day and age. It's really extraordinary of [Andy Wolton] to write three seasons of eight episodes by himself. It's mad, a huge workload, so he has done a really fantastic job. And there's still that tone that I think is what defines this show, this perfect mix of comedy and pathos.

Trying was the first British TV show to debut on Apple TV+ which must make you really proud.

ES: One hundred per cent! Because we were there at the start of it and we're really lucky.

RS: It was amazing to be at the vanguard of that and I think as a result of that, I think the show holds a special place in the hearts of the people in the studio because it was really special for them, and it's been a success - so what a relief!

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It holds a special place in the hearts of fans too. Have you ever been approached by viewers who have gone through their own fertility struggles or the adoption process?

ES: I don't use social media massively, but one of the lovely reasons for it is having this kind of instant engagement with people that have or are going through the adoption process themselves. They share their stories and details and honestly, some of the things that they say are so moving. I think it's like anything when a story of yours is represented - particularly if it is something that is delicate or sensitive or not spoken about as much as maybe it should be - it feels like a hand reaching out across to let them know they're not alone. I've even had it in the street, where a lady came up to me and she full named me and I thought I was in trouble [laughs]. But she just wanted to say "The show spoke to me," and I just thought that was a beautiful, wonderful thing to hear and really humbling, actually.

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Did any real-life families or stories of adoption inspire how you approached your roles and help you understand what it is like to adopt children? Because as we've seen, it's not been an easy process for your characters.

RS: Well, the writer of the show Andy, he himself is adopted, which is where the whole inspiration behind the show comes from. He's on set every day and that's been his life, so he wants to represent it properly - even though it's a comedy show. He's very keen to make sure that all the details are absolutely exact.

We can't not mention the kids as both actors are great. What was it like working with them much more this season than in the previous season?

ES: They're lovely! They are just brilliant kids who just show up to work, do their job and then as "Action!" is called, get on with it. They're just so natural!

RS: They've got shorter hours than the grown-ups! But no, they're well looked after on set and have their chaperones and it's really exciting and fun for them in the same way that he is for us.

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There are also a lot of scenes where you’ve got whole classrooms or whole party venues full of children. How do you keep that many kids on set entertained? Is there a secret?

RS: I think you’ve got to be very dynamic with children, but they like to know where they are and where they need to be. So we were very playful, but they need to know who’s in charge, hence Lord of the Flies [laughs]. They have to have boundaries! That's my experience of being a parent and being around kids. They're just they just really keen on boundaries.

The only absence this season is, of course, the wonderful Imelda Staunton who as we know has been busy filming another show. Do you guys miss her and is there a chance she could return when she's less busy? 

ES: She's amazing! And if we're lucky enough to do the show again, it would be great to have her back. But yeah, she was missed. She's far too grand for us now! 

RS: Listen, we were just lucky enough to have her in the first place. If we were to do it again, it would be great to have her back but we were just thrilled that she's been involved because she's so good.

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MORE: The Crown star shares huge update on future of Netflix series

And is season four in the works? Can you tell us anything about it?

RS: You'll never know, we'll see. We're waiting with bated breath as it would be nice. We love doing the show and it's very special to people. But it's also one of those word-of-mouth shows as well, so people are stumbling upon it and discovering they have this treasure trove of three seasons which is one of the wonderful things about the way that we consume TV these days.

Aside from Trying, both of you are no stranger to the stage as Esther, you've appeared in The Cursed Child and Rafe, you're currently starring in To Kill A Mockingbird, but can you tell us a bit more about what's on the cards for you in the future?

RS: Maybe we should do a character swap! I play Delphine and you play Atticus Finch.

ES: Yeah, I would love that! I'm going to start practising.

RS: I'm going to start practising too.

ES: You're going to have to learn how to fly then.

RS: You need to get a bit ... taller [laughs].

The first episode of Trying season three is available to stream on Apple TV+ now. New episodes will drop every Friday through to 9 September 2022.

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