“WONDERFUL. I loved that cast. I loved my beautiful daughter.”
I’ve just asked Amelia Bullmore about playing Caroline Price in Ashes To Ashes.
Caroline was the mother of Alex Drake, played by Keeley Hawes, who has also been the face of Boots No7 cosmetics.
“Still in Boots when I see her looking ravishing above the make-up counter, I think, ‘That’s my girl.’
“Ashes To Ashes was great. And I’d been such a mad fan of Life On Mars.
“It was great to be part of that machine. Very, very good fun.”
I met up with Amelia at ITV Network Centre in London to discuss all things Scott and Bailey.
As well as the rest of her varied career, both as actress and writer.
Today’s MEN feature on Amelia is below.
“IT was just a massive stroke of luck for me,” smiles Amelia Bullmore, recalling how she became an adopted daughter of Manchester.
“I am from Chelsea in London. I always loved acting and writing and I was determined to go to drama school as soon as I could. And my mum said, ‘No, you may not.’
“She talked to my teachers and won them over. But they said to me, ‘You know, you can go to university to read drama?’ Which I didn’t know.
“So I went to look at Manchester University. I absolutely loved it. Was lucky enough to get in on the drama course and to be deferred by a year.”
Currently starring as police boss Det Chief Insp Gill Murray in Manchester TV hit Scott & Bailey, she reflects on her northern adventure.
“Even if I had got into a drama school in London I would have been down the road, my world would have stayed pretty narrow. Instead, I got this place in Manchester, had a year working and travelling, went to Manchester, had a fantastic three years and stayed there. I lived in the city for 10 years and just loved it.”
Her first big TV role was as lawyer Steph Barnes in Coronation Street, married to Weatherfield bookie Des, played by Phil Middlemiss. “I was 27 when I got that job and it was unbelievable. And I’ve been allowed back to work in Manchester ever since.”
Amelia, 47, has quite a track record as both an actress and writer with roles in shows from Cracker to Lewis via State Of Play and alongside Steve Coogan in I’m Alan Partridge.
She was Keeley Hawes’ screen mum Caroline Price in Ashes To Ashes and is about to return to the part of Kay Hope, Head of Sustainability, in BBC4’s acclaimed Olympic comedy Twenty Twelve. Did she apply for London 2012 tickets? “I’m afraid I’m not terribly excited by watching sport,” she confides.
Her writing credits include contributions to This Life, Attachments and Black Cab, as well as stage and radio plays. You may also recognise Amelia from the current crop of Direct Line insurance TV commercials.
But it’s Manchester police boss Gill who is currently occupying viewers of ITV’s Sunday night drama, alongside Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones as Detective Constables Janet Scott and Rachel Bailey.
Why have the three characters proved such a success with viewers? “Gill is this enthusiastic, skilled, beady, bossy, surprising, funny woman. And she doesn’t mind being disliked. She’s super-smart about her job and she has given up being on the coal face to delegate. I think that’s quite interesting.
“Janet is a very careful, diligent policewoman. But Rachel is a star. She’s a rough diamond and Gill knows that. So like a certain kind of teacher, she’s being very hard on Rachel because she’s got big plans for her.”
Amelia knew she wanted the role as soon as she read the script. “I went up for it and I waited a month, which is quite a long time. They said they weren’t sure about the age of Gill and had pictured that she was going to be older. But now they were looking at people more in my age bracket and I was still in the frame.
“So I went back a month later and thought they wanted me to be tougher. So I looked as tough as I could and I was in the loo beforehand going, ‘Tough, tough, tough!’
“Then Beverley Keogh, the casting director, came out of one of the stalls in the toilet and said, ‘That’s not what we’ve got you back for. We were interested in seeing a warmer side.’ So that was a stroke of luck bumping into her in the loo!”
Gill is inspired by now retired Greater Manchester Police Detective Inspector Diane Taylor, who is credited as co-creator of the series with ex-Corrie writer Sally Wainwright.
“Di used to do the same job as Gill so they sat me next to her hoping that I would quietely turn into her. Di is a very animated, jolly woman. She’s not serious or glum and she had an enormous appetite for the job.
“She’s also got blood red fingernails, so I stole her nail polish. Those hands of hers are always busy explaining things and they’re perfectly manicured. It’s unexpected.”
Former real life cop Di explains: “Gill develops the strategy of what the team are going to do, what they’re not going to do, how they’re going to do it and then sets them all off running.
“We were filming a scene at the Crown Court one day and Amelia said, ‘I hope you don’t mind but I’ve pinched a couple of your mannerisms.’ And I said, ‘I didn’t think I had any!’”
Amelia shared a Writers’ Guild Award as part of the This Life second series team. Did she ever consider giving up acting to concentrate full time on writing?
“My writing agent said to me, ‘I’ve had a lot of actor-writers on my books over the years and they always ditch the acting.’ But I like both things enormously and I really wouldn’t want to choose. I would be unhappy either way because I love them both.”
She also loves returning to Manchester, with industry experts expecting ITV to announce a second series of Scott & Bailey before too long.
And it’s the city where she met her, now, husband Paul Higgins when they played lovers in a 1992 Royal Exchange production of A View From A Bridge.
“It was so romantic and next January it will be 20 years since that happened. So I have a lot to thank Manchester for.”
Scott and Bailey concludes on ITV1 at 9pm on Sunday.(July 3)