Ms. Sawatzki, you play one of the main roles in the ZDF comedy “Family Bundschuh – Bundschuh vs. Bundschuh”. Would political commitment, like that shown by your character Gundula Bundschuh, also have a certain appeal for you? No, I wouldn’t be interested in that.

And why? It would be too frustrating for me in politics. Because basically nothing can really be changed. You can perhaps have good ideas – but in the end nothing comes of it because everyone talks into you but then has no alternatives to offer. Then you still have to reach an agreement with the respective coalition partners. This circus would quickly drive me crazy. I’m far too impatient for that.

Are you interested in politics in general? Sometimes more, sometimes less. We were in Andalusia again in the summer, and I deliberately left out of the political events in Germany. That was also a blessing. Politics is undoubtedly an important topic and of course I try to deal with current issues, but it is sometimes a bit frustrating to realize how little is happening and how the parties are blocking each other. Apart from the worrying trends that the surveys show.

Was there a clearer edge in the past? I recently saw a political debate from the 1970s in which Kohl, Schmidt and Strauss argued wildly and actually insulted each other wildly. It was wonderfully entertaining because it was unfiltered and authentic, but strangely it still had class. And how Schmidt reacted to attacks – so refreshingly cool, reflective, clever and to the point. Today we often only get soft, wishy-washy solutions. Probably also because some politicians have to constantly be afraid of a social media shitstorm.

Can you imagine moving from Berlin to the countryside – like the Bundschuh family in the film? Very good, in fact, and that’s why I’ve suggested it to my husband several times. But then it stayed with the current model in which we connect the worlds with each other. We live on the outskirts of Berlin in the countryside. And ultimately it’s not that idyllic and stress-free in the village. See the Bundschuh family.

Keyword: Lack of infrastructure? Exactly! The bus only runs once a day, there is no supermarket, no library, no bakery, no post office, nothing! It wouldn’t have been so great for our children either. They complained to us when they were teenagers that it was so annoying to go to friends in the city and to places where there was something going on. Our model was probably the best solution after all.

Since 2015, the Bundschuhs have consistently ensured good to very good ratings. Are further episodes already being planned? There will definitely be another episode. But our wonderful producer Regina Ziegler always has to clean doors at ZDF and get the green light.

Astonishing with such a successful series…I’m surprised too, especially since with the Bundschuhs we appeal to a good portion of the ZDF target group. The very young people almost exclusively stream anyway. But there is currently a lot of uncertainty due to viewers’ ever-changing viewing habits.

At the end of the new Bundschuh episode you say the following: “We are all on thin ice. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow.” When did you come to terms with the fact that nothing in life can really be planned? I learned this in my childhood and this realization has steeled me for life: life with a father suffering from Alzheimer’s brings new surprises every day and every night with yourself. Because my mother had to earn our living alone as a nurse, I was responsible for his care. Despite all the dark, demanding and stressful aspects, looking back, this time was definitely very instructive for me. Today nothing can throw me off track so quickly.

Are you more of an optimist or a pessimist by nature? For me, it varied depending on the phase of my life: There were many years when it was pretty dark around me. This was mainly due to the feelings of guilt that I incurred as a child when caring for my father and that I also processed in my novel “Fountain Street” in 2022. Only after years of working on myself and my mental state – including through therapy – did I realize that there is not only darkness.

What kind of guilt are you talking about? The time in which I had to look after my father was so psychologically stressful for me that even when I was about twelve years old, I sometimes thought about how I could end this time. What I would have to do so that my mother and I could live like we used to when we were alone. When my father died when I was 15, I had so much self-hatred and so much guilt for even having these dark thoughts. Today I wish I had gotten professional help back then. Then I would certainly have been spared some dark years.

How much do you hold on to things and people? I mercilessly sort out memorabilia from my life. I love the clarity and I love the here and now! What should my children do with the boxes of memories? That’s just a burden. And once I have decided to do so, I can let go of people who are simply not good for me.

Are there things you keep? Of course, our boys’ pictures, crafts and stories can’t be ignored! Bruno, our youngest, is very talented artistically and would therefore like to go to the art academy. And at the age of nine he painted a huge watercolor of our Great Dane. It’s so beautiful that this framed picture still hangs above the bed in our bedroom to this day. Moritz writes fantastically, we’ll save that too. We get supplies every birthday and Christmas. These are the most beautiful gifts!

“Bundschuh Family – Bundschuh vs. Bundschuh” runs on Monday, October 2, 2023 at 8:15 p.m. on ZDF