The Channel 4 series begins with Joseph (played by Stephen Graham) in a very dark place, and his life quickly unravels following a heartbreaking development with his ex-wife and son.
After experiencing an epiphany and realising he needs to finally confront his childhood demons head-on, Joseph decides to try and find his long-lost sister Anna (Helen Behan).
The pair meet in unusual circumstances, but when Anna realises who Joseph is the emotion is palpable.
Speaking to Express.co.uk and other media at a recent Q&A for the new series, creator Shane Meadows revealed the unexpected twist that happened ahead of filming their major reunion, which took place in a bedroom scene.
Asked to confirm if the final scene used was the first initial take, Shane shared: “From my point of view that scene nearly didn’t get shot, we nearly cancelled it.
“Helen had some truly awful news on that morning, and I had some family news that landed on the same day.
“Stephen was there too, my dad was going to drive me off and Helen was…” the writer trailed off.
Reflecting on the difficult memory, Shane continued: “It wasn’t gonna happen.
“It was one of those moments where me Stephen and Helen sat in a room together and made a decision to give it one go because of the emotion that was around.”
“I have to thank Stephen for that day,” the creator went on gratefully. “Because my head had kinda gone and it was one of those ‘let’s just give it an hour of our time’ things.
That scene nearly didn’t get shot, we nearly cancelled it
“And the crew – a lot of the scenes you’ve watched, virtually all you’ve watched, have been shot on multiple cameras and there was usually five to seven cameras on every scene.”
The writer, who was also responsible for helming This is England with co-creator Jack Thorne, said he understood how difficult it was for the cast to film such intense scenes over and over again.
Shane said: “I really feel for actors because they’re expected to give 75 times in a row.
“And it’s impossible! Real life can’t happen twice in a room really, so we set up the room to give it this one go.
“It could have crashed and burned but it didn’t,” the creator added.
What’s more, Shane revealed the truth behind the show’s entire premise was due to his own experience as a child.
“Something like that happened to me, I didn’t realise until I got to about 40 about my life as a kid,” he shared. “And I got to the bottom of it, this thing that happened in my life as a kid.
“I had fragmented memories so the basis for Joseph’s journey was born out of something that happened to me and fundamentally when I discovered this thing I went to a place of trying to track down the people that had done it.
“I was like Columbo but not a good Columbo,” the writer laughed. “More like a Travis Bickle-style Columbo! I was having tea with my kids one night and I just about tracked down this guy I wanted to find, and I wanted to confront him basically.
“But I knew if I confronted him and at any stage in that conversation he smirked at me, I was probably going to jump over the table and bite something off his face, so I decided to ring Jack and talk about making something instead which I thought was probably far healthier.”
The Virtues debuts at 9pm on Channel 4.
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