Spooks: Gemma Jones

YOUNGER viewers know her as returning MI5 officer Connie James.
Those with longer memories will recall that Spooks star Gemma Jones was once loved by millions for playing a very different character.
Her career has included roles in Harry Potter, Inspector Morse, Trial and Retribution, Sense and Sensibility and Bridget Jones’ Diary.
But she’s best remembered as cockney sparrow Louisa Leyton, later Louisa Trotter, in classic BBC1 Saturday night drama The Duchess of Duke Street.
Two series were screened in 1976 and 1977, with a total of 31 episodes.
Gemma starred as the scullery maid with ambitions to be the world’s greatest cook.
The drama, set in London between 1900 and 1925, was loosely based on the life of celebrated cook Rosa Lewis.
Like Louisa, she ended up running a posh hotel in Mayfair.
The Duchess of Duke Street was created by John Hawkesworth, who had previously worked on Upstairs Downstairs.

Back in the present day, things are cooking up nicely as the current series of Spooks comes to the boil.
There are just two BBC1 episodes left, with Harry (Peter Firth) relying on old friend and colleague Connie.

“She’s quite old school. The best acting I do is pretending to be efficient on the computers,” Gemma told a small group of us during a set visit earlier this year.
“I think she’s essentially a career woman, but maybe there’s some secrets and liaisons that aren’t revealed.
“But, essentially, she’s very dedicated to her work. Quite proud and private.
“She has a very good relationship with Harry and they’re of a generation where they understand each other and can be quite open with each other.
“I think maybe the younger members are slightly suspicous of them.”
Connie had retired from MI5 and was living as the housekeeper of an isolated safe house.
But Harry brought her back to The Grid because he needed someone he could trust.
Earlier in the series, we saw Connie displaying her language skills.
“I’m a Russian speaker, which I’m terribly proud of,” laughed.Gemma.
“I’ve been doing a lot of Russian homework. It’s been bloody hard work, I tell you.
“The speech is written down in phonetics and they also gave me a tape with a Russian speaker on the tape.
“And then a Russian speaker actually came round to my house. So it’s been quite a challenge. It has to make sense.
“I did the scene with a Russian actor and he was very complimentary and said that I sounded OK.
“I am a French speaker, because I was an au pair girl when I was young and I lived there for about 18 months.
“So that went in by ear. But the Russian is challenging. It cost me blood.”
*The Duchess of Duke Street was recently repeated on ITV4 and is available on DVD.
More Spooks Blogs
Spooks 2007 TV Features
The Duchess Of Duke Street
Rosa Lewis
John Hawkesworth

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