My episode of Doctors aired on Friday 15 September, 2017, and I'm happy to say that I am very proud of the way it turned out. The filming experience itself was a great joy and privilege; we filmed over two mornings in April, a week apart, on location in Birmingham, the home of Doctors.
My TV mum was Jean Trend, a highly experienced actress known for her work on the cult 1970s TV show, Doomwatch. Jean and I stayed overnight in the same hotel and, knowing this was my first TV job she took me under her wing from the first. Her warmth and kindness really gave me a boost and we established a relationship that served us very well on set. We are still friends today.
Everyone on the cast and crew treated me with complete confidence that I could do the job. David Beauchamp, the director, guided us with a light hand; he is very skilled at making his intervention feel like supportive guidance and helpful suggestions. He'd say before rehearsing each shot "I have a cunning plan..." Sarah Moyle, who plays regular character Valerie, said of me and Jean that she very much enjoyed working with us both, and posed for a group photo with us at the end. Ali, who did my makeup, was a wonderful individual to spend the beginning of the day with, very kind, very nurturing. On the first of the two shoot dates, she had just celebrated her birthday and had brought lots of chocolates and treats in to share, and decorated her workstation, which made for some very pretty backstage snaps.
Given that my makeup was very minimal, I was surprised at the amount of touch ups and close attention my face and arm (I had telly bruises) required throughout the day. Fortunately I not only tolerate but enjoy being made up, and it's nice to have someone else do it because in theatre and murder mystery I usually fend for myself. To be honest I felt pampered!
Because Doctors is a soap that goes out every week day, year round (with a few weeks off in the Summer), work is done quickly and it's important to nail the scene in as few takes as possible. I'm pleased to say I delivered that. The most difficult shot was actually the one where I ran my hand under the tap. Technically it was difficult to set up, and because the running water made too much noise for the microphones, I had to remember not to actually turn the tap on, and I also had to override the natural instinct to roll my sleeve up, because it was important not to do it until Sarah, as Valerie, suggested it. I was very happy to finish that shot and move on! In the show, it looks seamless, and you'd never guess how complicated it was.
On the morning before my episode was broadcast, I was sick with nerves. A lot of friends and acquaintances had said that they would be watching, and in spite of how well things had gone on set, I had a fear that they might not like it. Would people understand what I had tried to convey about Sophie? Would my accent sound OK? I had a recurring thought that maybe the microphone hadn't picked up my voice and I would find myself having been dubbed!
Watching the show, my fears were allayed. Yes, it is definitely true that the screen adds a few pounds, but apart from that, my performance did not make me cringe. I received lots of positive comments and if anyone had any negative thoughts about it, they have kept those to themselves. I read some fan comments about the episode as a whole on the Doctors Facebook group and I was pleased to see Valerie getting some love; I remember saying to David Beachamp in my casting that I was glad Sophie would meet Valerie out of all the regular cast, because they were both misfits in their way and Valerie would feel a lot of empathy for Sophie; you really do see that come across when you watch the episode.
I hope that I may have the opportunity to do more TV work in the future, but for now I will leave you with a collection of Behind the Scenes photos from my first morning on set (hover mouse over bottom of pics to see captions).