What is the link between Keeley Hawes (Nicola’s co-star from her Spooks days), Nicola and a dog, specifically, a golden retriever puppy?
Answer : Both Keeley and Nicola have acted in a story about a child with behavioural problems and the golden retriever puppy was a part of each story.
In 2006, Keeley appeared in a one-off TV movie called After Thomas where she played the mother of an autistic child who is battling her husband over whether or not to send the child to a special school for autistic children. Her marriage is strained to breaking point as a result of the demands of looking after this child. Things took a turn for the better when the child was given a golden retriever puppy which he named “Thomas”, after Thomas the Tank Engine, his favourite story book character. The boy learns to adopt more sociable skills as a result of bonding with the dog.
Between July and October 2012, Nicola appears on stage at the National Theatre (Cottesloe Theatre) in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (The Curious Dog Incident), where she also plays the mother of a boy with behavioural problems and whose marriage is broken because of the demands in dealing with the boy. At the end of the story, the boy is given a golden retriever puppy which he names “Sandy” and the book implies that the appearance of the dog in the boy’s life may help the boy develop more normal social skills.
Apart from these similarities, the two stories are also very different. After Thomas the TV film is based on a book, A Friend Like Henry by Nuala Gardner, which tells the true story of her dealings with her autistic son and how the appearance of a dog in her son’s life helped the son to cope better with normal everyday living. The Curious Dog Incident is a work of pure fiction by author, Mark Haddon. The boy in After Thomas is autistic and is very young, about 6 or 7 and has no savant like skills. Christopher in The Curious Dog Incident is already 15 and is a Maths genius. Mark Haddon has said repeatedly that The Curious Dog Incident is not about autism or Aspergers Syndrome. In After Thomas, the parents’ relationship teetered on the brink of a break up. In The Curious Dog Incident, the parents have separated.
Nicola has been getting rave reviews for her performance in The Curious Dog Incident, so if you can, you should catch the show whilst its still on at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre, or at one of the subsequent NT Live screenings. You should also try and catch After Thomas because it has a stellar cast (check out the film’s profile on IMDb) and a great storyline. Both Keeley and Ben Miles, who played her husband, the father of the autistic boy, delivered brilliant performances.
The best part about this Fun Fact? Keeley’s character in After Thomas was called “Nicola”! 😀
Order After Thomas on DVD from Amazon UK
Order The Curious Dog Incident book from Amazon UK
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