You play Sue Carp in the new series of Ackley Bridge. What’s her story?
Sue is an experienced food technology teacher who has been imposed on Ackley Bridge as part of a package from the Valley Trust which now runs the school.
What attracted you to the role?
The scenes I was sent for the audition captured my imagination instantly. They were brilliantly written, very near the knuckle but very funny. I thought this woman is a nightmare, let me at her!
She’s not exactly the model professional, is she?
No, she’s a loose cannon and a professional nightmare!
What’s a Director of Behaviour? They never had them in my day?
In Sue’s eyes, she’s the jailor in charge of the punishment wing where the students who err get frog-marched.
What would you be like as a Director of Behaviour? Can you be scary?
I would be terrible, probably worse than the kids. However, I thoroughly enjoy playing an unsympathetic disciplinarian. Maybe it’ll rub off. Power corrupts you know.
You’ve said you were already a fan of the show. What did you like about it?
I have always been passionate about justice and equality, and the ability of drama to counter ignorance, racism and prejudice. I applauded the boldness and courage of the Ackley Bridge creators to tackle these real-life experiences head on, with fantastic writing and terrific characters. It’s top-notch entertainment and puts its money where its mouth is. Ackley Bridge gives us access into the lives and experiences of others that we would normally never get to glimpse, let alone understand.
Is it weird, joining an established cast and crew?
Just like any new job, the prospect of your first day is daunting. However, the director Penny Woolcock and the crew were very welcoming and the other cast members were absolutely lovely.
Did you and Robert lean on each other?
Not literally but Rob is very funny and an extremely generous actor so he put me at ease from the get go.
Had you ever worked with anyone on the show before?
I’d never worked with any of the actors before but I knew the Make-up Designer Lisa very well as we’d worked with each other on Emmerdale for years. Being made up by an old friend was a lovely start to my first day.
What sort of a pupil were you at school?
Exuberant, engaged and fun. Not sure if the teachers would use the same words.
What was your best subject – and your worst?
Up until the age of 13 I was a visual art fanatic. I spent hours at home drawing and painting. I also loved English but Maths was and still is a puzzle.
Did you base any aspects of Sue on your old teachers?
Yes, the bad ones.
How did you enjoy working with such a young cast?
Yes yes yes, I absolutely loved working with the young actors. We were utterly equal colleagues. I was so impressed by their professionalism, focus and skill and they had to do some really intense work. Plus, between takes, we laughed. A lot. Young people get such bad press but I was bowled over by their infectious enthusiasm, open minds and quick wits. I looked forward to being with them every day. I miss them.
Do you ever miss Emmerdale?
I miss my old comrades but we keep in touch. It was great working in West Yorkshire again because I got to hang out with some of them. I loved playing Val but I was spending more time as her than me! So after 12 years, I felt it was time to explore new creative avenues. And look what came my way...