Q&A with the cast from ITV Choice's Cleaning Up

Cleaning Up is a new series starting on ITV Choice get to know some of the cast in this Q&A.

Where did the idea come from?

The idea for Cleaning Up, which starts on Tuesday 22 January at 20:00 on ITV Choice (123) came to Mark while he was watching Oliver Stone’s Wall Street.

“For those who don’t remember, there’s a scene where Charlie Sheen has to break into an office building and find some inside information for Gordon Gekko, but I noticed there were a few cleaners in the background of the scene. They bare no relevance to the story and are used for little more than set dressing. They are unimportant and overlooked, and it was at that moment the ideas hit me all at once,” explains Mark.

The plot

The six-part series stars BAFTA Award-winning actress Sheridan Smith as Sam, an office cleaner struggling with an online gambling addiction and braving a shaky home life. Her marriage is on the rocks and her husband is threatening to take custody of their two children.

Desperate, Sam realises the finance office building she works in (London’s swanky Canary Wharf) holds lucrative stock market information. The solutions to all her life’s problems might be solved if she manages to dabble in the stock market with her insider information – and not get caught.

Inside Sam’s World

Sheridan Smith: Sam

Can you tell us about Sam?

Sam is a mother of two young girls who has got into a lot of debt because of her gambling addiction. She’s separated from her husband, Dave, and is struggling on her own. She works as a cleaner at a company involved in stocks and shares – a very different world from where she lives with her children.

What attracted you to the role?

I’m used to playing real-life characters who are very much removed from myself. But Sam is completely fictional and is more like me, I guess, which I’ve actually found quite hard. It’s close to me and my own emotions, so it’s hard to switch off. I relate to Sam a lot. It felt rawer and more real. Which is a good thing.

How would you sum up the series?

It’s compelling, important, funny, entertaining, warm, real and, hopefully, exciting. We’ve also had great directors. Lewis Arnold is amazing and he’s been working on it for two years with Mark Marlow, so he’s totally lived, breathed and invested in it.

Jade Anouka: Jess

Can you tell us about Jess?

Jess is a strong-willed woman who wants to do what’s right and help out her family. She works in the family café and she does cleaning work with Sam to make extra money. Jess is definitely the voice of reason when it comes to Sam. They have been friends for a long time and she has seen the struggles Sam has had.

What do you think about some of the issues highlighted in the show, such as gambling?

It’s great that a story like this is being highlighted on TV because I think an issue like Sam’s gambling is a rising problem in real life. It’s so easy to do with a few taps on your mobile phone, and almost feels like it’s not real money you’re playing with.

Matthew McNulty: Dave

Can you tell us about Dave?

Dave is Sam’s husband and the father of their two daughters. The relationship between Dave and Sam is fractured. He’s a man full of frustrated love. He still loves Sam and is a family man, but he can’t go back because there has been too much deception and hurt and he’s had to put up with so much.

Ben Bailey Smith: Blake

Can you tell us about Blake?

In a way, he is the face of the crime while the others are hidden. Blake [a stockbroker] is the one who is passing on information. His knowledge is ahead of everybody else’s because of his job. He knows what he is doing is insider trading and he’s risking everything.

Do you think there is a difference between Sam’s gambling and what goes on in the stock market?

I see them as very similar. I can’t believe there’s not more regulation around the fact that people gamble with our money. At least if you’re doing online gambling or going down the bookies, it’s quite straightforward. You bet on something and if it doesn’t come in, you lose your money. And if it does, you win.

Stream, series record or tune in to Cleaning Up on Tuesday 22 Jaunary at 20:00 on ITV Choice (123).