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Vicky McClure

May 2015

The last time we saw Vicky McClure on screen was a brief glimpse during the BBC’s live coverage of the British Academy Television Awards.
The 32-year-old from Wollaton was there to, we all hoped, pick up her second Bafta, after winning Best Leading Actress four years ago for her reprised role as Lol in This Is England ‘88.
The only person confident that she wasn’t going to win was Vicky.
“I didn’t expect the nomination in the first place,” says the actress, who has also been seen in ITV’s Broadchurch alongside David Tennant.
The nod was for her role as DC Kate Fleming in Line Of Duty, the police drama that she is currently filming a third series for in Belfast.
As it turned out, she lost out on a second Bafta, this time for Best Supporting Actress, to Gemma Jones for her role in Marvellous, based on the true story of Stoke City kit-man Neil Baldwin.
“Marvellous was my favourite piece of TV last year so losing to Gemma was more than fine by me,” says Vicky, who was papped on the red carpet wearing a full length white dress by London-based designer Osman Yousefzada.
So busy was she before the ceremony last month, that it wasn’t a dress she had time to pick herself.
“My publisher is a good friend and he knows what I like so he got everything arranged,” she laughs.
Vicky was there with other members of the Line of Duty cast as the show, BBC2’s biggest ratings winner in ten years, was also up for Best Drama, while co-star Keeley Hawes was nominated in the Best Leading Actress category.
“It’s going really well,” she says of the filming that started in April and runs until July.
“The scripts are stronger than ever and there’s a really nice vibe on set. The new additions to the cast are incredible.”
Among them is fellow Nottingham actor Arsher Ali, who starred in The Missing and Arthur and George.
“It’s been great to have a Notts lad on set,” she says, although the pair’s allegiances to football clubs are on opposite sides of the Trent.
Was Forest fan Arsher, who grew up in Sherwood, kind about Notts County’s relegation?
“Nothing was really said,” laughs the Magpies fan.
“I think everyone was kind enough not to mention it.”
Having another Nottinghamian on set has helped ease Vicky’s longings to be back in her city.
“We’ve been chatting a lot about Notts, which has been great. We’ve filmed scenes together and we did try and get an ‘ey up mi duck’ into one of them,” she laughs.
“But that’ll probably be cut.”
There are rare breaks from filming when she has been home. Soon after the Baftas she was at Notts County for Football Rocks, a charity event organised by the club with Jake Bugg. Vicky appeared in the Clifton chart-topper’s video Two Fingers and they have since become friends.
But the main reason she was there was because boyfriend Jonny Owen was playing.
The couple met three years ago during the making of the rock ‘n’ roll comedy film Svengali, written by and starring Jonny.
The Welshman and our Vicky, who appeared in the film as his girlfriend, first settled in London but the draw home was too much for Vicky and the couple now live in Toton.
“I love the city and I love the people – they remind me a lot of those in South Wales,” says Jonny, who has appeared in TV dramas Shameless and Monroe.
“Everyone is very friendly and open. I can’t speak highly enough of people in Nottingham. They have made me feel very welcome.”
Jonny, who produces shows for Notts TV, is currently making a major film about Nottingham Forest’s legendary European Cup wins.
On another swift visit home, Vicky and her man had a meal at La Rock in Sandiacre, a restaurant, which earned the very first five star review from the Nottingham Post’s long-serving restaurant critic, the Food Sleuth.
“It was some of the best service I’ve ever had. And the maître d’ was so lovely. There was nothing pretentious about it and the food was great.”
The former Fernwood Comprehensive School student is a graduate of Nottingham’s Television Workshop, along with Joe Dempsie, Jack O’Connell, Samantha Morton and many others.
It was the two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton who spotted her talent at the Workshop and brought her to the attention of director Ian Smith.
Her early screen roles included a spot in daytime soap Doctors, as well as Filth And Wisdom – the first feature film directed by Madonna.
But her big break came after she was cast as Lol in Shane Meadows’ feature film, This Is England, which won him a Bafta.
The third spin-off TV series, This Is England ‘90, has been shot and is due on Channel 4 in September.
Vicky was reunited with fellow “workshoppers” Joe Dempsie, Andrew Shim, Rosamund Hanson, Michael Socha and Chanel Cresswell.
And once again director Meadows insisted the cast improvise each scene.
Says Vicky: “It’s the most fun I’ve had on a set in a long time.”

Nottingham shot film wins national award

April 2015

A SHORT film shot in Nottingham city centre and starring Wollaton actress Lauren Carse has picked up a major award.
Echo, a 15-minute drama about a schoolgirl who tricks shoppers into giving her cash, won Best Short at the National Film Awards in London, where the likes of Idris Elba and Tulisa Contostavlos were in attendance.
“It was great that we won although we weren’t expecting it because we were sat right at the back,” laughs Lauren.
“And we were on a table with the people who supplied the linen for the tables, so we thought this is not spelling out ‘award-winning’.”
She collected the award with the film’s producer Lawrence Mason.
“It took an age for us to get to the stage,” adds the 23-year-old.
“And it was the last award of the night so I was on my third glass of wine after two glasses of champagne.”
The graduate of the Television Workshop thanked its director Ian Smith during her speech.
“I mentioned the cast and crew who couldn’t be there and thanked Ian for his continued support, much like Jack O’Connell did at the Baftas.”
The fellow Workshopper was up for two awards for the drama Starred Up and the film ‘71 at the National Film Awards at Porchester Hall in Mayfair.
“He couldn’t be there because he was filming in New York,” says Lauren, whose character in Echo is a 17-year-old called Caroline. She is seen taking a call on her mobile, becoming distressed at some apparent bad news about her dad being in a motorbike accident. But it’s a con, to trick passers-by into giving her money for a taxi to the hospital. It’s based on an incident witness by the film’s writer James Walker.
Its director came to the Television Workshop, where Lauren started as an 11-year-old, to cast the film.
It was shot two years ago in King Street, Wheeler Gate and the Old Market Square, where Lauren is seen with her on-screen brother, played by Newark teenager Oliver Woollford.
So convincing was her apparent distress, many people interrupted filming to check if she was OK.
“That was really reassuring, good on you, Nottingham,” says Lauren who has also appeared in Casualty, Doctors and the Nottingham-set BBC drama Truckers.
Echo director Lewis Arnold went on to work on TV dramas Misfits, Human and Russell T Davies’ E4 drama Banana, in which Lauren also appeared.
“He couldn’t come to the awards because he was casting in Manchester,” says the former Fernwood Comprehensive pupil.
“I was at the audition but I got to London in time for the awards.”
She adds: “I’ve been to quite a few auditions lately are quite exciting.”
Others at the awards included Keith Chegwin, Rizzle Kicks, Linda Robson, EastEnders’ Tanya Franks, were in attendance.
The red carpet event, included a goodie bag for nominees that included jewellery.
“There was another one we were given on the way out that included popcorn, water and chutney,” she laughs.
“We were really treated.”

Arsher Ali

March 2015

THE mystery surrounding Doctor Who is legendary. Cast and crew are sworn to secrecy in order to ensure storylines for future series are never leaked.
“It’s the first thing you sign; even before you sign your contract,” says Arsher Ali, of the confidentiality agreement with the makers of Britain’s long-running sci-fi series.
The Nottingham-born actor has already filmed his two episodes for the next series which is likely to hit the small screen in late summer.
“I can say it’s a two-parter and my general view of Doctor Who but no more than that,” says the 30-year-old, whose acting breakthrough came five years ago in the comedy film Four Lions.
He has since appeared in Silent Witness, Beaver Falls, The Guilty, Complicit, The Missing and, most recently, Arthur & George opposite Martin Clunes.
About Doctor Who, he says: “I am a fan of the show although it was a shame that the first Doctor for me when I was growing up was Sylvester McCoy.
“You could see that the show was dying so I didn’t really appreciate it until they brought it back with Christopher Eccleston,” says Arsher, who lives in the city centre with Emmerdale actress Roxy Shahidi. “He is up there on my favourite actors’ list so I started watching it again.
“I don’t like the sillier elements of Doctor Who; when it’s really camp and everyone is running around. That’s why I like Peter Capaldi,” he says of the current Doctor.
“The show should be dark and mysterious, and shouldn’t pull any punches in terms of being scary. When we were kids it’s what we all wanted.”
He adds: “Peter Davison was an underrated Doctor; he had a kind of vulnerability. And Tom Baker was silly but he could be serious as well. He was just mad, like The Joker.”
Doctor Who is just the latest in a string of TV series and films that Arsher has been busy filming over recent months.
At the end of last year he was in hit BBC drama The Missing opposite James Nesbitt, then in March in Arthur & George, a three-part ITV drama adapted from Julian Barnes’ acclaimed novel about the true story of The Great Wyrley Outrages.
In 1906, George Edalji, a young Anglo-Indian solicitor, was imprisoned for mutilating animals and writing obscene letters. He served three years before being released, after which he set out to clear his name in order for him to return to practising law.
Helping him in his quest was Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
“I can’t believe it’s real; it’s like someone getting done for terror charges and Russell Brand leaping to their defence,” says Arsher, who played Edalji opposite Clunes as Conan Doyle.
“You think you know him from Men Behaving Badly, that he’s a kind of oafish, comical guy but he’s not at all,” he says of his co-star.
“He’s super smart, super sophisticated, very witty and super posh. And he was so good in it.”
The three-parter pulled in up to six million viewers.
“The actual case, and the achieving of the pardon was quite an historic event. A lot of laws and regulations were changed from that first case. So it is an important landmark case in terms of law now.
“I’d read the book when I left drama school. Then the Nottingham Playhouse did a co-production of it and that landed at my door. But I thought ‘no’ because they don’t do catering,” he jokes.
The theatre’s artistic director, Giles Croft, is a neighbour and has often asked Arsher to appear in various productions there but he’s always been too busy.
“I’d love to work at the Playhouse; it’s where I saw my first theatre really.”
That was when he was at Bilborough College.
“It would be great to work with Giles. My missus has. She did The Importance of Being Earnest with Anjli Mohindra,” he adds, of the Nottingham actress who played his wife in The Missing.
After Bilborough College, Arsher went to East 15 Acting School at the University of Essex, then graduated to roles with the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
There will be two more films featuring Arsher out this year; one with This Is England actor Stephen Graham with the working title A Patch of Fog.
“It’s about stalkers and Stephen’s really good in it; very creepy. And he has a menacing persona which he plays on, just for a laugh. Some of the cast members who’d not met him before didn’t know how to take him.
“It was fun. I don’t do a lot of film because I get offered a lot of good TV stuff.”
He had complained that due to his looks, he’d been repeatedly offered roles as a terrorist.
“If you see anything that has a kind of terrorist plot at its heart, be sure it landed at my door,” he laughs.
“It’s getting better though.”
Arsher, who’ll be in another film due out this year called Remainder, based on the cult novel by Tom McCarthy, is writing a screenplay about heavy metal music in Iraq.
“I’m very excited about that, because it’s mad,” he says.
“It’s from an article I came across and I optioned it. We’re on the third draft of the script now.”
He adds: “I’ve always fancied writing. I read so many scripts, why wait around for that perfect thing to land at your door? Why not do it yourself?”
When he’s not working, Arsher’s free time is dominated by sport. His first choice of career was sports journalism and he’s sort of achieved that with regular columns in the Nottingham Post about his beloved Nottingham Forest.
“I’ll travel everywhere to watch them. And if I can’t make it I’ll ring home and get my mum or my missus to put the phone to the radio so I can listen to the commentary on Radio Nottingham.”
He played football for his school team but was “too lazy” to make a go of it.
Arsher, the son of a Raleigh welder, now retired, is also often to be seen at Trent Bridge during the cricket season.
“You can just walk around there and everyone is so friendly. You can get friendly with the players; they are always more wordly than footballers, so you have a proper conversation with them.”
He adds: “I started a cricket team when I was at Haywood School in Sherwood.
“We only had two other teams to play against and I think we always lost those games.”
He and Shahidi will soon be moving North to be closer to Yorkshire Television, where Emmerdale is filmed.
He says with a grin: “If it was up to me we’d be in West Bridgford, but with the City Ground and Trent Bridge just down the road, she knows I’d never be home.”