IT may be a dark Monday evening in Britain but there’s a dash of sunshine on the other end of the line.
Jill Scott is trying to order some lunch, which is why her hotel room phone has been engaged.
Eventually we hook up. She’s in the middle of an American tour and I’ve just finished watching a preview DVD of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.
Grammy award-winning singer Jill, 35, takes the lead role of Precious Ramotswe in the feature length BBC1 film.
Based on the novel by Alexander McCall Smith – the first in a much loved series of books – it’s a very big deal on both sides of the Atlantic.
Both Anthony Minghella and Richard Curtis are involved in the production, with a full series of films to follow.
You can read more in the online version of today’s MEN TV feature interview with Jill here.
And here’s a taste of some of the material I couldn’t squeeze into the feature.
Read reviews of Jill’s concerts and you’ll see her described as a “saucy soul sister” with a “sweet humble air”.
She’s also an exceptional actress.
The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency was filmed entirely on location in Botswana.
As writer Alexander says: “This film is best-watched with a cup of red bush tea at one’s side. And an open heart.”
Was Jill daunted by the task of portraying Precious?
“Yeah. Firstly because I know that the fans are more familiar with the books than I will be.
“When I read the book and the script, I thought, ‘This is just somebody I like. This is someone that I would love to play, let alone be.’
“She’s such a revolutionary. She believes in justice and she loves her country.
“She’s a real woman who has experienced the loss of a child, being heartbroken with her first marriage, but decided that life is so much better, that there’s so much more than those particular heartaches.
“I love her for that.”
As you’ll read from today’s feature, Precious is described as a proper gorgeous African woman.
One disgruntled client also labels her: “The fattest tart in Gaborone.”
That’s the capital of Botswana, by the way.
Jill told me that she took away many things from both the wisdom in the stories and her three months’ filming in Botswana.
“One of the things I learned is how you pass someone something.
“Now, in the United States and in the UK you just hand somebody something like – here you are.
“But in Botswana, you take that item in your right hand, you take your left hand and put it on your forearm, and when you hand someone something you look them in the eye and you curtsey.
“Just a slight curtsey – that I am handing it to YOU. It’s so respectful.
“I take that with me wherever I go, whenever I shake hands or meet people, I curtsey.”
*The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is screened on BBC1 at 9pm on Easter Sunday.
Jill’s New Role Is A Scorcher
Jill Scott Official Website
Jill Scott Wikipedia
Jill Scott MySpace
Alexander McCall Smith Official Website
The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Wikipedia