You star in the BBC drama Our Girl on Sunday, where you play Belinda, Molly’s mother (played by Lacey Turner). Can you give our readers a quick synopsis of the plot?
It’s about a girl that lives on a council estate in East London. She’s one of six kids and doesn’t really have much going for her – she doesn’t feel important or like she has anything to contribute to society. Then she happens to notice an army recruitment office and is curious. She ends up joining, and this provides her with some sort of identity.
Does she struggle to see herself as a valuable person?
Yes, she has really low self-esteem. I think she feels rejected by society – the education system didn’t serve her well. She’s got a lot of common sense and she’s bright, but she just happens to have slipped through the net in terms of education.
Joining the army is a difficult subject, but also one that’s quite prevalent today, as a lot of families have to go through this.
Yes, that’s what I loved about the drama, because it’s not pro or anti army. It’s not making a political statement, it’s about the impact of the decision on that family, as well as how one girl’s self worth goes on a journey. I think it puts the question out there – does someone really need someone to go to those extremes to feel like they’ve got something to contribute to society? It’s a really great script, I was really impressed with it.
Your background is in stand-up comedy. Does this compliment your acting?
I suppose there are some basic skills that are transferable, because both are performing in some capacity. But they are different – stand up comedy is a one-man thing (well, woman in my case)!
I see you have quite a following on Twitter now. What are your pet Twitter hates?
Someone corrected my spelling the other day and I thought, ‘Oh! How dare you!’
I don’t feel the need to be on it all day every day all day. I’m totally amazed that some people are on it so much they must get dressed or go to the toilet on there! But it’s all been very positive for me, as the main bulk of my followers are Derek fans.
Derek seems to mix sadness with comedy, which is really interesting. How do you feel about this style?
I think it’s really original. Comedy implies there should be a gag a minute, which means there isn’t always an enormous amount of depth. I think if you can create depth within comedy, that’s a real achievement, especially in a 23 minute, sitcom slot format.
There is inevitably some controversy surrounding Derek’s character. What is your viewpoint on this?
If you’re going to take people in a new direction, you’re going to have to risk some people not enjoying it, not liking it and not understanding it. That’s the downside of being an innovator!
What is Ricky [Gervais] like to work with?
He’s lovely. He’s very clear about what he wants and he’s good fun. Everybody knows that laugh and it’s pretty infectious! He’s very inspiring because he’s someone that’s got a great work ethic, he knows what works for him and he’s fearless. I think that’s admirable. I think a creative person has to be fearless.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently recording my Radio 4 show and I’m also thinking of doing a tour later in the year, or early next year. We’ve just found out that we’ve got a second series of Derek, so that will be up next!