LTiH 2 – Visiting Nicola on set in Manchester, August 2013

Thursday, 22 August 2013


Sofie, who lives in Belgium, spent 3 months as an exchange student in one of the Manchester universities towards the end of 2012 and early 2013. When she found out about the chance to meet with Nicola on set, Sofie was very keen to return to Manchester for a visit. Sofie and her sister, Marie, went from Belgium to London by the overnight ferry and then by bus. From London, they took the train to Manchester. They were met at Manchester Picadilly station by Ruth at around noon. Sofie and Marie only managed to have about 2 hours sleep that night. The group arrived at Hoghton Tower just after 1 pm.

Ruth spotted Nicola through the archway at the front of the main house. When Nicola saw them, she quickly came out. She had her phone and held up her hand and said, “wait!” The group assumed that Nicola was going to make a phone call but no, Nicola just wanted to take a photo of the three of them walking towards her.

It turned out we’d arrived just at the right time – they were on a lunch break.

“Have you eaten?” The ladies were a little worried that their visit might interfere with Nicola’s lunch.

“Yes, I had some risotto.”

Nicola greeted the three ladies with hugs, and said to them, “Thanks for coming back. I’m glad we’d been able to sort out the confusion over locations. I got in the car at the end of the day on Tuesday and told Dean about the arrangements we’d made and he said, ‘Well you’ve really messed that up Nicola, we’re not here on Thursday.’ At which point I panicked and had visions of the three of you, standing by the stream [where they’d agreed to meet] and wondered, ‘well she said she be here.’ So I asked Dean if he could put something on Twitter. Thank god he figured out it was Ruth who had visited the set so was able to post the tweets.”

“This is a beautiful location. The views across Lancashire from here are amazing.”

“When I arrived and turned into the long driveway, I had the biggest sense of déjà vu that I’d been here before. Then the make-up people told me that it wasn’t déjà vu – I’d actually filmed there before, on Moll Flanders! We’re filming more scenes for the wedding today. The hall they’re using is beautiful. We’re doing a dancing scene. Well, everyone else was dancing; Paul Copley [Harry] and I were just standing and drinking. I know how to do that! I really enjoy filming and getting to do things on the farm as I’d never done anything like that before.”

“We saw the on-set photos [take by Kyte Photography] that’s been posted on Twitter. You were chopping wood in one of the pics.” [Ed : you can see the pics on this Page.]

“I told everyone I knew how to chop wood … until I started and realised that there was a very specific technique. The crew shouted ‘Action’, I picked up the axe, swung it … and missed! I told them, ‘keep rolling, I’ll get it next time’ but I missed again. It was so embarrassing because we have men on set who did know how to do it right!”

“In Series 2, I get to inject a sheep!” Nicola continued. “I look like something out of Ghostbusters, with the tanks for medicine on my back, giving a sheep an oral injection. You have to be quite rough with the sheep to get them to do what you want but I’m a bit soft and talks to them saying things like, ‘Hello beautiful sheep. I’m sorry I have to do this to you.’ But they don’t cooperate, so at the end of the day you do have to get quite rough with them. I suppose they’re like horses that way. I’m lucky [her character] Gillian isn’t a dairy farmer and doesn’t keep cows, because I’m really afraid of cows. I don’t mind sheep, they’re beautiful creatures. I think I’d be okay with pigs but standing in a pen with cows would be a no-no.”

“Lucy says ‘hi’, by the way,” Sofie told Nicola. “She managed to visit the farm which is used for Gillian’s farm earlier in the summer.” [Ed : you can read about Lucy’s visit to Gillian’s Farm on this Page.]

“Yes, I’d heard about that. The owner, Bill, told me, ‘I’ve met your friend Lucy.'”

“Lucy took some photos of the sheep which Euros Lyn had tweeted about.”

“Tell Lucy I want to see those photos! I’ve had to re-learn how to drive the tractor. Bill, who is a very nice man, said to me on the first day, ‘Nicola, do you remember how to drive the tractor?’ (Nicola impersonated Bill’s voice by putting on a very broad Yorkshire accent!) No! I’d only done it for three days a year ago. So he showed me a bit and asked if it was all coming back. I told him, ‘Yeah, yeah, it’s coming back. Erm … which one’s the accelerator again?’ I’m not very good at driving the jeep either. Also, we have ‘stunt chickens’ this year – fully trained stunt chickens! I was always stopping too early ‘when Gillian tears into the yard in her Jeep’ because I always thought I would hit the chickens, but I’ve been assured that they would get out of the way in time.”

Several times, Nicola had to stop herself from revealing too much information about Series 2, including the identity of a new cast member who was on set that day.

“Who is it?”

“No, I can’t tell you, I’d get into trouble if I did. That’s one reason why I’m not on Twitter. If I were, I’d be forever tweeting things that were supposed to be secret!”

“What are your plans after you finish filming Series 2?”

“Unemployment. I’ve got nothing planned and I haven’t been going to auditions for anything else as I’ve been busy with a mad eighteen months. I’m expecting to be unemployed because that’s usually the way it works; you work a lot and then you get a bit of a lull.”

“When I first read the press release for Sally Wainwright’s new drama, Happy Valley, I thought the main character would be perfect for you,” Sofie told Nicola.

“Ha ha, I love how you all are casting me in these different things. No, I’m not in it. I know who has taken that role but I can’t say. When casting for that show is formally announced it’ll be obvious why I’m not in it. Oh no, I’ve probably said more than I should!”

[Ed : Casting for Happy Valley was subsequently announced, and you can read about it HERE.]

“It was a shame that ‘Heading Out‘ has been cancelled,” said Ruth.

“I know. It was fun and I’d enjoyed working with Sue Perkins so it had been worth it.”

“Justine was great. She should have her own show. I think I said that to you in my letter,” Ruth reminded Nicola.

“Yeah, I remember.”

“We read about one of your new projects, you’re in a short film titled ‘Fire Horse‘.”

“It’s more Barney’s [Nicola’s husband] project than mine; I’m only in about one scene. Meinir, who had worked on a couple of Spooks series, did the make-up on the film and presented me with this big wig to wear for my part. People will just laugh! You’ll all go to see it and you’ll laugh.” [Ed : You can read all about Fire Horse and see a pic of Nicola in that wig on this Page.]

“What about the movie ‘Second Coming‘?”

“I only have a small part in that. I think Debbie Tucker Green (the writer and director of the movie) is brilliant. I would have played any one in that film. I just really wanted to be a part of it. Debbie Tucker Green has a play coming up in The Shed at the National, but I can’t remember the name. That would definitely be worth a visit.” (The play is called Nut.) There’s also a great play at the Exchange Theatre in Manchester, but I’m not sure if its still on.”

“When I was here towards the end of last year as an exchange student, I only saw one production during my three months in Manchester,” Sofie told Nicola. “It was ‘9 to 5’, the Dolly Parton musical.”

Nicola gave Sofie a smile and said, “I was going to shout at you for only seeing one production, but you picked the right one, so that’s ok.” Nicola is a die hard Dolly Parton fan – for further reading on this subject, go to the 2011 Q&A as well as Dee’s Report.

Nicola then made some recommendations about plays to see and the ladies told her about the things they were going to see such as, Barking in Essex, Jeeves and Wooster, Mojo etc. Nicola kept asking questions like, “when does that start?” or “which theatre is that at?” Unfortunately, the ladies just couldn’t remember enough about those shows to be able to answer Nicola’s questions! Ooops!

“I want to see a few of the same shows. Maybe I’ll see you there. I still haven’t been able to find time to see the West End production of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time, but I’m planning to. If I can’t get a ticket, I hope they’ll let me sit in the light/sound booth so I can see how the staging has changed.”

Sofie had seen the West End production and proceeded to tell Nicola about a few of the changes/effects. “My seat was really high up,” said Sofie.

Nicola asked Sofie about the staging differences. “It looked amazing,” Sofie said, “and the play was still fantastic but I enjoyed it more at the Cottesloe Theatre at the National.”

(Ed’s Note : at the Cottesloe, the production team was able to stage the play “in the round”, i.e. audience members sat on the four sides of the room, with the main action taking place in the centre. The Apollo Theatre at the West End is a tradition theatre where audience sit on one side of the room whilst the action takes place on a stage on the other side. This change in layout of the theatre necessitated changes to the set and lighting etc. You can read our coverage of the original production of the Curious Dog Incident at the Cottesloe on this Page.)

“Yeah, I know what you mean. I also prefer a smaller theatre, it’s more fun to have your audience close, surrounding the stage. I bumped into Gina McKee the other day in Marks and Spencers at Manchester Piccadilly,” said Nicola. In the encore run of Di, Viv and Rose at the Hampstead Theatre earlier this year, Gina took over the role of Viv, which Nicola played in the original 2011 production. “I’m a really big fan of Gina’s, so I was a little nervous in her presence! I’d also bumped into Sarah Lancashire in there too. That’s the place to go to meet actors. We’re all in there buying humus and cottage cheese,” Nicola joked.

Order from Amazon UK

Order the Series 1 (Regions 2 and 4 compatible) DVD from Amazon UK.


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