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HE ONLY HAD EYES FOR IOAN; Man And Boy co-star reveals Gruffudd's magnetic attraction.

Byline: BY RACHEL MAINWARING

ACTRESS Natasha Little has revealed how she had to face the dilemmas women experience when they're wives, mums and career women.

Little, who stars opposite Ioan Gruffudd in new BBC1 drama Man And Boy, plays Gina Silver whose life is devoted to looking after her house, her son and her workaholic husband who is having a crisis about reaching 30.

She reveals that off-screen she had no chance of competing for the attentions of boy actor Dominic Howell, who only had eyes for Ioan.

And the actress said the role made her realise just how difficult it is to retain a single identity when you've got a husband and a child.

Natasha, whose character Gina leaves husband Harry and son Pat to work in Japan, said: "I think Gina was a woman who is doing virtually all the parenting in the house. I think it would be fair to say she's frustrated. I think she loves being a mum but I don't think Harry was being a particularly hands-on dad.

"She is doing most of the work herself and she's highly intelligent woman who'd given up a very decent career to dedicate her life to her marriage and to motherhood.

"Gina is frustrated, like I guess a lot of parents' are, with day to day living - you get swept up in the chaos of looking after a house and so it's difficult to hold onto the magic of your relationship.

"There's a scene where Harry and Gina's love-making is interrupted because Pat's having a nightmare and that's all part and parcel of parenthood - your relationship shifts."

When Gina finds out that Harry has slept with someone from work, her world falls apart and she decides she wants her life back.

And Natasha said she shares Gina's feelings about commitment.

"I think if you're going to get married then when you say the vows you should mean them. They're promises, you should think very carefully about whether you can keep those promises. Of course people make mistakes but they have consequences."

Gina gets a job in Japan as a translator and decides to leave her son Pat, played by Dominic, until she's settled over there.

She said: "It's not something she does easily, when she's in Japan she's utterly miserable. The stuff she's missing - his first day at school, her child starts school and she's not there!"

Liverpool-born Natasha said it was great to work alongside Ioan and Dominic, even if she didn't get much attention from the pair!

"It was quite hard to spend any time with Dominic because most of the time if he wasn't with Ioan he was looking for him. I tried to force him to pretend that he liked me as much, but I realised early on that was a lost cause.

"They had the most gorgeous relationship and it was really charming watching them because at times Dominic would seem very grown up and at other times Ioan would seem very childish so they seemed about the right age."

Ioan, who's also starring in Hornblower on our screens, said: "I love children and I love being around them but the most surprising thing was how Dominic responded to me.

That made me feel fantastic - that he trusted me. We had a lot of fun.

"When we see Harry at home you can tell he loves Pat and Gina but is so busy at work.

"As a result of his affair Gina leaves him to try and rekindle her career in Japan. It's at this point we see Harry begin to grow up - he becomes an impressive character."

Man And Boy is on BBC 1 on Saturday at 9pm.

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FATHERHOOD: Ioan and Dominic in the TV show
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 24, 2002
Words:627
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