Tell us about your new series Cuffs. Why should we watch it?
Cuffs is a brand new police drama for BBC1 set in the beautiful, bustling backdrop of Brighton. It is a high octane, insightful and hopefully enjoyable look at modern day policing. We worked very closely with real Brighton police and most of the stories are taken from actual cases that happened there. It’s very daring for an 8pm show but I think that is also its charm. It closely follows the lives and work of 8 police officers, most of whom are very brilliant and passionate about their work but are less sorted in their personal lives. It’s a drama that I think has a lot of heart and soul and I think the show just gets better and better with each episode.
Tell us more about the cast, what has it been like to work with them?
The cast of Cuffs are a total delight and it was a pleasure to go to work with them everyday. I know you hear that a lot and think ‘yeah right’ but it really is the truth, we all loved each other! We had a blast filming in Brighton for the summer. I have never been happier on a set, there was a lot of laughter. Most of my scenes happen with Alex Carter who plays Lino, my best mate and work colleague in the show. Alex is an extremely funny person and the most brilliant actor, so he made my job easy, it never felt like work. You do tend to see the same faces again and again on tv and I think this cast is different, it’s not the actors you expect playing the roles you expect. I think everyones performances will surprise you.
You play response officer, Donna Prager. What is she like?
Donna is a brilliant copper and a bit of an adrenalin junkie. She’s a popular member of the team and she adores her job. Her other great passion her girlfriend Alice, whom she dotes on. But as the series progresses we see Donna being pulled between these two great loves of her life, her work and her girlfriend. It can be hard for families of Police to watch their loved ones putting themselves in dangerous situations, that was something that I’d never thought of until I played Donna, what a profession like this means for your family and loved ones. I’m deeply proud of the fact that we are showing positive gay relationships on screen. I think Julie Geary (our brilliant writer) has created such beautifully fleshed out, believable characters. It’s important to me that Donnas sexuality isn’t the most interesting thing about her, I think lesbian characters can be chronically underwritten in that way. Shows like Orange is the New Black are helping to smash through those tired stereotypes and I’m so pleased we can continue to represent on mainstream British telly.
Would you ever give up the day job to be a real life response officer?
Nope, no way! I have the utmost respect what they do. The Police officers we spent time with in Brighton were incredible and they have to be on call for any event however dangerous or however meaningless. I went out for a ride-along one night with two officers and mostly they were dealing with drunkards on the street or people who were totally wasting Police time. They were so patient with everyone and so calm! I wouldn’t be able to hold my tongue, I definitely don’t have the constitution for it! Pretending to be an officer is hard enough, I think I’ll stick to pretending.
What was it like filming in Brighton and how would you spend a perfect day there?
Brighton is beautiful. It has it’s own identity and just vibrates with this mad energy. I adore the place. Fish and chips by the sea, the pier, the dodgy Fortune Tellers, what’s not to love? I got to know the town fairly well so my perfect day there would start by grabbing a smoothie at Juice 42 then a stroll along the beach, through the Pavillion and across to the laines. There are amazing independent shops and vintage boutiques you can spend hours rummaging through for treasures. Stop off for a cheeky pint at The Basketmakers or a coffee at Silt. Stroll up the hill to the Seven Dials area and head to Murasaki for sushi. We spent a lot of time in Murasaki.
How would you describe a day of your life in London?
I love walking into town from my home in West Hampstead. My husband Trev and I do it all the time whatever the weather. We’ll grab coffee and meander through Primrose Hill, past London Zoo and down through Regents park. If we are feeling particularly energetic we will walk all the way down and across Waterloo Bridge (which is my favourite spot in London) and maybe catch a show at The National. But my night always has to end in Soho. I know the cool kids have all moved East but my heart is always in Soho. I spent most of my 20s in pretty much all of the gay bars on Wardour Street, or with my friend who worked the bar at what used to be club TooTooMuch (now The Box) . It’s changed so much now, so many of the clubs and bars have gone and it’s filling itself up with chain stores. It breaks my heart.
What’s next for you?
I have just finished on A Midsummer Nights Dream a new adaptation by Russell T Davies for the BBC. It’s such an iconic play, I’m so excited it’s being made into a television film, it’s going to look beautiful. I play Hippolyta , a character that has never hugely interested me before because I could never understand why a woman who has been kidnapped and forced into marriage was always depicted as happy! At least in all the versions I’ve seen, and it made no sense to me. But then I read Russell’s version and there are some twists and turns he has added which not only make total sense but instantly made me want to play the part. I can’t reveal what those are yet, but trust me it’s good. I am also about start a new play by Caryl Churchill at The National called Here We Go. I am slightly giddy at the thought of working with Caryl, I’m such a fan of her writing. The play is about death really and I have no idea what to expect, except to say that I think it is brilliant of course, very moving and will definitely provoke discussion in the bar afterwards. And at only 16 pages long i’ll be in that bar by 8pm so see you there!
Cuffs is on BBC One on Wednesdays at 8pm.
Interview by Aldo Bisacco
Photography by Andrea Vecchiato
Hair by Stan Watts @ The King’s Canary Salon
Make up by Gloria Penaranda
Clothes: faux fur jacket by UNIQUE – Leather Jacket by Stella Nova, black top by Stella Nova – Sparkly jacket by Custom Made DK – Pink top by Stella Nova – Leather Jacket by Stella Nova, jeans by Calvin Klein