It's Monday and I'm having breakfast with the lovely Richard who plays my husband in the new series of Doc Martin. We've got the giggles. The waitress keeps passing our table but won’t make eye contact with us. Eventually we manage to flag her down and she scurries back to the kitchen with our order!
At 10:10 our driver arrives and whisks us off to unit base located on a hilltop farm overlooking the stunning Cornish coastline. I hop into my short pink cotton dress, long line orange cardigan and my own bargain purchase TK MAX orange wedged sandals. Then it’s off to make-up where my hair is diffused, a natural pallet artfully applied to my face and an angry looking rash and bruise stuck onto my right arm.
The sequence being filmed today is complex. We have a crowd of extras, a class of children and a man sized lobster to co-ordinate. Boats in the harbour which race and then have to be re-set before each take. A camera mounted on a crane which takes several burly men to manoeuvre added to which we are filming in Port Isaac with passing traffic and crowds of holiday makers to control.
Hundreds of people travel here just for a glimpse of Martin and the other regular actors who accommodate by signing autographs and having photos taken between shots. If you happen to come armed with a cute pooch then that would normally increase the odds of Martin stopping to say hello, but today the pressure is on. The cast and crew are exhausted after filming for four months and Martin has a whole lexicon of medical terminology to remember. With only four days left to complete filming we all have to concentrate, support each other and get the scenes done in as few takes as possible.
Of course filming Doc Martin is always fun. The day is punctuated with hysterical laughter. How can it not be when half the cast are comic actors? Add a fabulous crew and stunning location to the mix and this has to be one of my all-time favourite jobs.
My last day on Doc Martin ends at 20:30. Tomorrow I’ll be on the first flight out of Newquay Airport heading for Gatwick. Unusually for me I’m juggling two acting jobs and need to be at Victoria for 10am where I'm rehearsing a new play by Tony Cox called Mrs Orwell.
I arrive at our new rehearsal room behind Victoria Station with plenty of time to spare. I have always been a stickler for punctuality but even more so since perusing an acting career in my early 30’s. For the last two weeks we have been rehearsing in a low ceilinged windowless black painted room above a pub behind Guys Hospital. Our home for the remaining two week rehearsal period however is the polar opposite. A glorious Victorian light airy room whose high ceilings are decorated with elegant cornicing and two decorative roses each hung with a glistening chandelier.
In this wonderful space we are rehearsing with director Jimmy Walters, co-founder and artistic director of Proud Haddock Productions.
Based on true events, five of us take on the roles of author George Orwell, friend and magazine editor Sonia Brownell, dear friend and long suffering publisher Fred Warburg, artist and sometime friend Lucian Freud and the starchily efficient Nurse who has been assigned to Mr Orwell by the private consultant.
What a treat for me to be working on two such different projects simultaneously. I love the immediacy of film and TV work which requires a subtle style of acting as the camera picks up even the slightest flicker of emotion. But there is nothing quite like working on a play where you get to spend time discussing the script in fine detail, stripping the text down and then building it back up again so that you know each line and its intention inside out. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. How lucky am I to be doing this as a job!
Mrs Orwell opens at The Old Red Lion Islington on Tuesday 1st August running until Saturday 26th August - hope to see you there!