John Simm and Shirley Henderson in Everyday drama

Channel 4 are to air a drama which is described as being ‘a celebration of the small pleasures of everyday life’.

Michael Winterbottom’s story charts the tale of four children separated from their father, and a wife separated from her husband. The father Ian – played by John Simm – is in prison. The mother Karen – Shirley Henderson – has to bring up a family of four children by herself.

Filmed over a period of five years, Everyday uses the repetitions and rhythms of everyday life to explore how a family can survive a prolonged period apart.

Winterbottom says of his film, “A lot of films deal with stories that take place over a long period of time: I’ve just done a film now with Steve Coogan about Paul Raymond which goes from 1958 to 1992. But you tend to do it with very conventional techniques. You’re still making it over a period of seven or eight weeks, you’re still packing it in, so it’s all done with wigs and make-up. So with children especially you end up having different children playing the same role. It’s very unsatisfactory. This is a film about how the relationship between children and their dad can survive a long separation, how that effects the relationship with their mum, and the relationship between the mum and the dad. And rather than do it in six weeks and try and fake it all, we did it over the same length of time that the story is supposed to take place.”

The story unfolds in a series of visits, first the family visiting the father in prison, later the father visiting the family at home. With each visit the distance between the children and their father becomes harder to bridge.

By avoiding the normal cinematic conventions of time passing, Everyday focuses on the small subtle changes as people grow up and grow old whilst being apart. It is a story of survival and love, a celebration of the small pleasures of everyday life.

“It’s a unique project, as far as my career goes,” says John Simm, adding, “It was filmed in real time over five years. I play Ian, who’s in prison for an unspecified crime. It’s nothing violent or particularly horrible, but he’s been involved in something he shouldn’t have. And it’s all to do with the prison visits, really. It’s Shirley’s film, I think. Shirley carries the whole thing wonderfully. It was a very strange film to do, but brilliant. My character was away from his kids the whole time, apart from prison visits, and was on the end of the phone.”

Everyday will air on Channel 4 in November

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