Connect with us


Sacha Parkinson on playing Connie Hawkins in ITV’s Mr Selfridge



Ex-Corrie star Sacha Parkinson reveals she was a huge fan of Mr Selfridge before joining the new series, which airs Sunday nights on ITV, as Kitty Edwards’ fiery younger sister, Connie Hawkins.

“It’s amazing to be part of Mr Selfridge because I had watched the show from the very first series and really loved it. It’s a show my family and friends are massive fans of too. They were already avid watchers before I was cast in the series and I really like that they are true fans, and won’t just be watching because I am in it.

“It’s a bonus to be stepping into something with a massive fan base around it. I think it’s an amazing thing to be part of and I feel very lucky.

“I love period dramas. It’s interesting to see a piece of our history and even though a lot of them are based on historical facts, there’s still something magical and fairy-tale in their style. I think they are so beautiful, in particular the costumes!”
Sacha shot to fame at the age of 16 playing Sian Powers in Coronation Street. Since leaving the cobbles in 2011, she has gone on to star in dramas such as The Mill, By Any Means and The Driver.

Speaking about her blooming career and aspirations Sacha says: “Filming a drama like Mr Selfridge is so different to Corrie. The pace is a lot slower and there aren’t so many scenes shot in one day, which allows more time for creativity. But I love soaps because they have roots and are easy to watch. For me it’s a nice contrast. As an actress I enjoy different experiences and every set is a different experience.

“I think if you’re rooted to one place for so long, you can exhaust the experience and it can become a happy routine. I’m looking to keep on working on different projects and exploring different characters. I love meeting so many types of people and by taking on new roles I can never lack new material and influences, which is great.”

In Mr Selfridge, Sacha plays Connie Hawkins, who is introduced to audiences as the sister of Selfridge’s Head of Beauty, Kitty. Kitty has come a long way since starting her career at the store and is now married to journalist and author Frank Edwards. When we meet Connie, it’s clear Kitty and Frank have concerns about Connie’s troublesome and carefree attitude, particularly when it comes to her job in Selfridge’s loading bay.

“Connie is an unrefined fireball of energy,” says Sacha about her new character. “Her attitude towards the world is the polar opposite to that of Kitty. She is a real tomboy and totally fearless. She is straight talking, confident, and unaware of other people’s standing in society.

“Connie is so different to her sister. Her manner puts Kitty and Frank on edge because they never know what she is going to do or say on a day-to-day basis.

“When I took on the role it took me a while to figure out if Connie is so stubborn and abrupt to people because she is uneducated as to how to behave in high society, or whether she just genuinely doesn’t give a damn what people think of her! But as the series progresses, she adapts to her new lifestyle, learns to like people and gradually becomes more ladylike.

“Connie is so fun to play because she is such a huge character with a lot of personality. She doesn’t stand for any rubbish and certainly wouldn’t be intimated by anybody. She can also be really sweet, even though sometimes her actions get her in trouble.”
Sacha continues: “Connie works in the Selfridge’s loading bay as one of the women employed when the men were off at war. It’s now 1919 and the ex-servicemen have returned to their jobs, working alongside the women. Connie hates the fact she is being told what to do by men who haven’t been there in a long time and don’t know what is what. She will not be told she is in the wrong and patronised by men.

“I can imagine that when the men came back to reclaim their jobs it must have been upsetting for women to be pushed to one side and looked on as second best. It shouldn’t have been like that. In the story the issue is only touched upon for a couple of episodes with Connie’s character because as soon as she realises there is nothing she can do she moves on and eventually claims another role in the store.”

When the women have to leave their jobs in the loading bay, Connie is lucky enough to gain a job in the store is an assistant in the fashion department, working with Miss Mardle.

“Kitty helps Connie get a job in fashion,” explains Sacha. “It’s good for her, especially seeing as at the beginning of the series she has a lot of energy and it could have been risky to put her on the shop floor in fashion when they didn’t know how she would be with customers or what trouble she might cause next.

“I think it is great for Connie’s journey to be put on the shop floor in fashion, right in the mix of it all. You can see her really mature. She doesn’t lose any of her bolshiness, but she definitely finds something that she’s is good at and has an interest in.
“Miss Mardle really takes Connie under her wing. She has a natural talent for sales and Miss Mardle nurtures that. They develop a really nice partnership, which is so lovely to see. Connie has someone to keep her on the ground and focussed.”

Sacha spent much of her time on set filming on the main shop floor in Selfridge’s fashion department. So, did Sacha enjoy being surrounded by the latest fashion trends from 1919?

“I came straight onto Mr Selfridge from the set of The Mill, another period drama. For that drama I was covered head to toe in dirt as it was set in a grimy period about the industrial revolution. Therefore, even though Connie is far from glamorous in comparison to other characters, she felt glamorous to me.

“Walking onto the set of Mr Selfridge for the first time was amazing. The shop floor sets are beautifully designed. All the clothes look stunning, as do the actors in costume.

“It’s lovely to go into work and get made up. It took me about 40 minutes in hair and make-up because I had to wear a hair-piece at the back. Connie’s costumes are quite confortable for the period. She wears an ankle length skirt and a blouse.”

Sacha continues: “If I could have kept anything from costume it would have been a pretty clip that sits around the collar like a tie. I would definitely wear that today with a nice shirt. I also really liked some of the period jewellery we used.

“If I had the chance I would love to live in that period of time. I think everyone looked so clean cut and elegant. My style is far from elegant – I tend to wear trainers, hoodies and a bomber jacket or denim. Much of the time I look like I closed my eyes and picked things out of my wardrobe!” laughs Sacha.

Sacha admits she enjoys shopping in Selfridges in London and in her home city of Manchester.

“Selfridges is a shop I go in regularly. There’s a massive one in The Trafford Centre and another in Manchester close to where I live. When I was filming Mr Selfridge I went into the one on Oxford Street. I thought the one in Manchester was big enough but the one in London is absolutely huge!

“I really enjoyed going to Selfridges. I can’t believe the main structure is still there after all these years. The store has stood the test of time, which is an amazing thing.

“I stood in the store and thought, ‘I’m filming how the store began’. It was really surreal and fascinating.

“Harry Selfridge achieved so much and it’s interesting to learn about his life and how it all began. He was a very modern man with modern ideas, so brave and positive. The whole experience for me has been a real history lesson that I’ve really enjoyed.”



The Miniaturist Interviews: Romola Garai




Romola Garai The Miniaturist

Romola Garai plays Marin Brandt in The Miniaturist, premiering soon on BBC-1, here she talks about what drew her to the drama and being in a costume drama where she pretty much only gets to wear one costume.

What attracted you to the role of Marin?
I’d read the book shortly after it came out and I thought it was a really surprising novel, really interesting and with very strong feminist themes in it, so I was very excited about it. Time passed and then an email popped into my inbox with the subject, The Miniaturist. I thought it was fantastic they were making it and I was really excited to read the script.

It’s a very genre-bending novel; it appears to be like a costume drama we have seen before, but very quickly we realise that it’s not that. It’s about a woman coming into her own in a society that’s very patriarchal, it’s about a love affair, it’s about discrimination, and it’s about people trying to survive in an incredibly controlled state. It’s a thriller and it’s also a story about political and emotional awakening.

Marin is a particularly interesting character, I think she has one of the best arcs. When I first read the book, she was the character that stayed with me, and when I read the scripts I immediately remembered everything about her. She’s told in beautiful detail in the novel, which John has retained in the script. Marin is just a great character to play, it was a real treat.

Tell us about Marin.
When you first meet her, because the story is told through Nella’s perspective, you meet a woman who seems very cold and intimidating. Then gradually you get this drip-feed of information about her; you see she’s been helping Johannes run the business and you learn that they were orphaned at a young age. She’s very intellectual, she’s very well read, and she’s not married, which is very unusual at the time.

One of the reasons I found her such a fascinating character is that she’s full of secrets and she’s layered; very conflicted and has great faith, but also passions. The house they live in is essentially a tinder box of secrets that Marin has been sitting on to try and stop the secrets exploding out. However although it seems she is trying to keep a lid on it I think she believes that they could subtly break all the rules and be free within the house at least, if only her brother stopped acting so recklessly.

Hopefully audiences will question what is driving her hostility towards Nella. Marin needs Nella a lot to maintain the appearance of being a normal household but it’s also very important that Nella is afraid of her so that she doesn’t try digging and discovering the secrets that they are all trying to keep – because if anyone finds out then their futures are ruined.

What was it like doing the scenes between Marin and Nella?
I loved working with Anya, she’s an incredibly accomplished actress. She’s got a difficult job in this, because Nella has to be very innocent at the beginning of the story, which is always difficult for an actor to play, and also more innocent that a woman of that age would be now. She’s constantly making discoveries, she doesn’t have the information that the rest of us do so she’s always learning new things, and she’s done that with real beauty and subtlety. I really enjoyed doing all our scenes together.

Anya Taylor Joy The Miniaturist

Anya Taylor Joy plays Nella.

Tell us about Marin’s costume.
Marin only had one costume until a very late stage of the story. Her costume is typical of the puritan values of the period which rejected anything that smacked of luxury or louche values. They also didn’t wear make-up in this period at all, certainly not women of this class and station, and the hair was very simple and scraped back. Her head would have been covered at all times, so I had a black cap that I wore, but to be honest when I wore it I couldn’t really hear what anyone was saying and also talked incredibly loudly because I couldn’t hear myself, so essentially I was shouting at the other actors!

What makes The Miniaturist stand out from other period dramas?
I’ve done lots of historical pieces but there’s something very unusual about this. When you do contemporary novels set in the past the writers are able to do a lot more, and tackle complex themes which writers writing at the time weren’t able to do. More than that, it’s interesting in that it explores a number of different genres. It has elements of a thriller and then it becomes a family drama and then it becomes a polemic about what happens in societies that are so controlling.

I hope people will sit down to watch the show because it’s a pretty costume drama and will be surprised that it is actually rebellious and constantly bringing up important issues – and that they’ll be so engaged they won’t be able to look away.

Continue Reading


Trust Me Interviews: Sharon Small




Trust Me Sharon Small

Interview with Sharon Small, who plays Dr. Brigitte McAdams in new three part psychological thriller Trust Me which airs this August on BBC One.

What attracted you to this project?
I liked the character and the premise of the piece – I don’t think we’ve seen this before. And everyone is like an armchair detective, everyone is an armchair actor or doctor, so I thought that people would get off on that and think, gosh what would I do in that circumstance? The audience are the people who are privy to the truth and not us. With my character, Brigitte, I like her neediness, her sassiness – she’s fun and quick-fire talking – and quite honestly I rather fancied myself as a doctor [laughs].

How would you describe your character?
Brigitte is a good person; she’s sassy and is a really good doctor. She has got some issues, but she is trying her best to run this ward and with great intentions, which I think a lot of NHS doctors are.

How did you prepare for the role?
I grew my hair so that I could tie it up – normally I have short hair. We had a fantastic medical training day with Dan and got to do airways and cannulas and stitching and things like that, I loved that. The most important thing for me was to go around the actual A&E department (or ED department as I now know it’s called) in Edinburgh. We met this fantastic doctor – just watching him and really getting to observe what goes on in a ward, the dynamic, what people do and noticing that people are always looking at folders, everyone’s always collaborating and talking to each other. Everyone is always moving around, a lot more than you think and not that quickly. It’s less dramatic than you think.

Is your character challenging to play?
She was. Similarly in something that Jodie mentioned, I had quite a lot of medical jargon to say quite quickly, but I had less of the procedural stuff to do in terms of operational things. As the character is more and more revealed I had to make sure that I took care of how that happened, and that it was subtly done.

What makes a hospital a good arena for a drama?
It’s an ever-changing landscape, a hospital. Every new sort of event that you’re presented with means that you’re having to make life-saving decisions. People’s lives really are at stake, and honestly, my little taste of pretending that I was an ED doctor made me feel quite powerful. If I could fix people so that they survived, that would be an amazing ability.

What are the biggest challenges that you have faced so far during filming?
Saying the medical words Metronidazole – Met-ron-ida-zole, Metron-i-dazole – and trying to make scrubs look even remotely interesting, I don’t rock scrubs like Jodie does, I’m way too curvy for that!

What do you hope audiences will take away from this drama?
I hope that they’ll find themselves in that dilemma of wanting Cath/Ally to succeed, because she’s a good person and she ironically is brilliant at the job. I’m hoping that they’ll see the dilemma that she has, and as you want her to keep succeeding, it means she’s going to keep compromising people as she goes, as well as herself.

Continue Reading


Trust Me Interviews: Jodie Whittaker




Trust Me

Jodie Whittaker plays Cath in three part psychological thriller Trust Me which airs on BBC One this August.

What appealed to you about this project?
I was sent the script for the first episode and it fascinated me because it went in a completely different direction to how I thought it was going to. Particularly at the beginning when she’s suspended for whistleblowing and loses her job. It could have gone so many ways, and the fact that she takes on this new identity isn’t the way that I thought it would go. I love the fact that her choices are quite morally dubious – they certainly aren’t black and white. She makes decisions that are quite challenging to justify, even though we know her reasons. I’ve never acted in anything medical before, so it felt completely new.

How does Cath’s lie come about?
Cath starts off by having a conversation with her best friend, Ally, who is a middle grade doctor in A&E and is giving it all up to emigrate to New Zealand. Ally is packing up the life that Cath would have loved to have had, leaving it all behind to go and do something completely different. Suddenly there is an opportunity for her to take on the identity of her friend and in that panic, not necessarily the clearest thinking moment in her life, she does it. Once you set off on a path of lies it’s very difficult to undo it without bringing everything crashing down.

Did you receive any training on medical procedures?
Yes! The writer, Dan, who is also medical consultant and a doctor outside of TV production, showed us a load of stuff that he used when he was training people. He brought in the CPR dummy and showed us how to do a cannula and he, very bravely, let me put a cannula in his vein. I did it right, thank God! Also, YouTube is amazing. The genius of the internet is that you can basically sit at home and Google medical procedures, and TV shows such as 24 hours in A&E, which I watched hours of.

How else did you prepare for the role?
With regards to the technical stuff, we had an on-set consultant so that there was always someone to help when we had to do the procedures. The best thing for me was that my character was also out of her depth and didn’t always know what she was doing, so it kind of covered my own personal fumbles. I’m not someone who likes to over prepare for dialogue scenes, because I think that makes me not listen to what the other person is saying as I’ve already decided how I’m going to do it. It immediately makes it interesting and new and you can’t plan for that, which is great. You can’t ‘wing’ the medical stuff so I had to do my research for that. One of my friends is a Sister in A&E and I sent her a lot of messages asking ‘how do you pronounce this?’ and ‘what does that mean?’, so basically she was my personal medical coach even though she works full time!

Is it challenging playing someone who leads a double life?
Yes, but no more challenging that playing someone who has had something happen to them that I haven’t personally experienced. What’s hard is trying to gauge how good a liar she is, or how in a panic she is. You’ve got to be careful, because you can’t make the other actors seem stupid. These are intelligent, fully formed characters that you’re working with, so it was a fine line of being able to deceive and it not being something that comes easily to her. However, it can’t be that it makes everyone around her feel a bit like an idiot for not working it out. That was tricky, but the director is there to help guide you through it.

Did the uniform help to get you into character?
Yes. It feels odd when you put it on. I did five weeks of studio filming, back to back – all the medical stuff was contained so everything started to become a bit like second nature. The first few times I had to put on an apron, the ‘take’ ended up being about 15 minutes long. Then I worked out that you shouldn’t put the gloves on before the apron! There was lots of daft stuff like that, but you then get into a rhythm. It’s good because it makes you immediately feel like you look the part and then all I had to do was make sure that I knew the lines!

What were some of the challenges that you faced during filming?
I’m not very good with learning dialogue when there are lots of medical terms! I enjoy the adrenaline of being on set because I’m quite good at choreography, I respond well to being taught something physically. That’s why I was terrible at school, because they talk you through things rather than physically show you. I enjoyed doing the different types of surgery as it was fascinating, it’s nerve-wracking but you realise that you can do it. Also, the team who created the props put in so much hard work to make sure we didn’t mess up our bits. I struggled with having massive speeches that involved these medical words. I don’t have a brain for that!

Did you enjoy working in Scotland?
I absolutely loved Glasgow! The crew were phenomenal and the city is wonderful. I could move my family up there and we had a great time as there were loads of brilliant restaurants and everyone was lovely. It was brilliant and I would snap up another job there very quickly, although it does get very dark and cold over winter!

Continue Reading

More to View