What can you tell us about the new BBC One drama, Ordinary Lies?
Well, it's a six-part drama following a bunch of people in a car show room, and each week we take a look at different characters - the characters are in every episode - but we sort of hone in, focus in on people more specifically in each episode. I think they're all really people that we all know, or that we know in our lives now - people that you might not necessarily notice - and I think the show's really accessible. We all know people like Marty, Rick, Grace, Tracy or Beth - well you think you know them, but when you look closer or deeper you get to see in Ordinary Lies what is really there.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character Grace Wells in the show?
Grace is a bit of a misfit really, she's an outsider. She's sort of desperate to be part of the team, and even though she is part of the team she's probably not somebody, again like I said I think, nobody really knows each other... They all work together and they see each other every day, but I don't think anybody really knows each other in the series - well not necessarily with Beth and Mike - but when you see someone every day and you work with them you don't know deeper stuff about them and I think what people think of Grace is that she's a bit dull. Her clothes are quite eccentric and she's a real romantic, so she desperately, desperately wants to find love. She's got a little tattoo of a love heart on her arm which I think is quite interesting because there is something curious about Grace, if you look a bit deeper. You get a couple of flashes of it, but basically she's very dependable, very loyal - I just think she's a bit of a geek actually, I think they all think she's a geek, but trustworthy. I don't think she particularly goes out with them very often so when she is invited out she's really excited. I think she's just sort of quite a loner really, which is why in episode one she gets sort of involved in something that has never happened to Grace before, I think.
What was it that drew you to this role?
Well as soon as my agent told me about the audition, I just knew... RED are huge for me anyway because Nicola Shindler's a big heroine of mine, I love everything that RED have done, they're northern and my children are Man United fans, so I have so much loyalty towards them.
So as soon as someone says to you 'RED are doing a show' you wanna be involved in it, and then with Danny at the helm of it and Nicola, I was really excited.
And then I read it and I just loved Grace - she's such a great character. She's so sweet, and so seemingly honest, I think she's very honest, certainly in series one, I don't know if we dig any deeper or what happens with her... It was really nice as well to have a character that - basically everything I ever do is lots and lots of crying and lots of drama and lots of emotion - I've got a film coming out in June and it's very, very dramatic and very bleak. Even though Grace, it's dramatic for her, it's huge in her life, it's an absolute life-changer what happens to her, she'll never be the same afterwards... The character, the sort of stuff I had to do and my journey was light and sweet and I just really loved her. I remember reading in the script she was 'Always the Bridesmaid, never a Bride, the quirky one', and I really identify with that because I think I'm perceived as a bit of a geek but quite quirky - and I think Grace is a bit like that as well. She's a geek! The geek of the show.
So you mentioned Danny Brocklehurst - how collaborative was this show with him?
Oh it was amazing to have him on-set. I've been watching his stuff for as long as I can remember really, from Clocking Off, and Talk To Me and Exile, so just to have him there, I was a little bit starstruck because I'd just seen The Driver as well and that was brilliant. It was just wonderful to have him around, he's a northerner and he's just such a normal dude, and just having him on-set was great. I found myself a little bit in awe with him and nervous to speak with him because I think he's just a genius really, but he's not like that at all, he's not 'starry', he's just a normal Man United fan, and it was great to have him there.
Everything was there in the script so I didn't have any questions for him, but you could go to him with anything if you wanted to ask him anything.
Was there instant chemistry on-set with any of your fellow Ordinary Lies cast-mates?
Yeah, you hear actors all the time saying they've become family, I've made so many friends from this job that are lifelong friends really... Obviously most of my stuff is with Jason (Manford) and he's become a really good friend, I went to see him in The Producers. He's like my new buddy. He's just amazing to have on-set, he's so funny - obviously he's a comedian - but he's so funny on-set as well. In a way it could be quite distracting because I was constantly flip-top-head laughing at everything he had to say, and sometimes when you have to be serious and stuff it was hard to jump into it.
And Fisayo (Akinade) has become a really good friend and comes and stays with me and hangs out with my kids, and Jo (Joyner), I've hung out with Jo already as well and George Bukhari, I've become really good friends with and Shazad (Latif) - actually, I don't think there's anybody that I haven't really! (laughs) These are people that I'm gonna have as my friends forever really.
The great thing about the show, which is even though each episode focuses on a different story and a different lie, we're all in it but a lot of the time you could be background, so we would spend a lot of time on-set just all hanging out together. So Michelle (Keegan) and I for example would spend hours in the background just chatting and gossiping, we've got a connection anyway because she's worked with my mum (Beverley Callard) before, and she would laugh at all my clothes because we've got completely opposite taste in clothes! You really get to know someone when you spend all day on-set chatting and stuff, so really I've made some amazing friendships from the job.
Why should viewers tune in when Ordinary Lies comes to BBC One?
It's just so accessible, and it's just so brilliant, it's got so many elements to it. It's funny, it's dark, it's exciting, it's something we can all relate to but also there's an element of escapism to it as well. Nothing is quite as it seems so it will surprise you, I just think it has so many wonderful elements to it.
You've had an extensive career to-date, what have been some of your favourite roles and best experiences?
Well obviously I'm gonna start with Ordinary Lies, I just loved my character, it's one of my favourite characters I've ever played.
I did a film 18 months ago that's coming out this summer with Stephen Graham who is one of my favourite all-time actors and Michael Smiley and just doing a film with people like that was just extraordinary, that was really exciting.
I guess Romeo and Juliet that I did, that Judi Dench directed when I was really young. That was something that I'll never forget and really shaped me I think.
And I did an amazing role in The Grand which Russell T Davies wrote, and I ended up getting nominated for a National Television Award for that but basically because of his writing because it was so phenomenal, so I've been really lucky, touch wood, and so different the parts! A lot of tears normally, so Ordinary Lies was really nice for me because it wasn't crying in everything, I've been really blessed I think for all the characters I've played.
Are there any dream roles or shows you'd love to be a part of going forward?
I want to be in everything that RED do basically! Cucumber was just extraordinary, stuff like that, Utopia, I would love to be in Last Tango In Halifax, that kind of stuff I just think that we just make the best drama. Real-life stuff, really believable and just takes you on an amazing journey and it's just so well-written. I do think RED make the best stuff there is, so I'd like to work with them forever!
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline you can share with us?
I have this film coming out, and a short film coming out, a film called Orthodox with Stephen Graham and then my film is called What Comes After and I'm sort of auditioning now and waiting to hear about something, which obviously I can't say! I'm just being a mum at the moment as well, I've got a Parent's Evening tonight, I went to assembly as well! And also now I've started going to the gym because Michelle Keegan has got me into the gym! To be 10 years younger than me and so healthy and such an inspiration for fitness that I ended up joining a gym a couple of weeks ago and that's definitely down to her! She'd do a four day film and then go off to the gym! I was like 'Wow, OK, I've got no excuses now!'
Ordinary Lies starts tonight - Tuesday March 17 - at 9pm on BBC One.