Hermione Norris

Hermione Norris

And during that time she has taken some of television's toughest and most beloved characters. I caught up with her to chat about her career so far as well as the Philips PerfectCare campaign.

- You are working with Phillips for the launch of PerfectCare so can you tell me a bit about it?

It's fantastic, seriously Helen. It's this iron and it ejects so much steam that it cuts down the amount of manual labour involved. It has also got this one optimal heat setting so you don't ever have to alter the temperature so it works automatically on any fabric. So it's idiot proof as well.

- Are you not an ironing fan.

I find ironing and sweeping, that's ridiculous, really quite calming (laughs) I think it must be the mundaness of it all I find that it really calms me down - my life is so mad; obviously it's not a passion of mine but I don't mind it.

- You have just finished working in the West End with Blithe Spirit so how was the run of the play?

I hadn't been on stage for twelve years so I was incredibly nervous about going back - and it was just very odd being back stage and drawing on experiences of ten or twelve years ago; it was just really small things like waiting for the cue light and going back to my craft really.

So I was really glad that Did it and I was really glad that I went back to my roots.

I was really tired by the end of it because I had gone back thinking that it would be a better work balance with my children - if you are filming you are on set twelve hours a day - and I thought 'at least I can take them to school and pick them up' but when its 6.30am when you have eight shows a week (laughs) it's tough.

- As you say you have been away from the theatre for just over a decade so what was it that made you want to go back?

Well I think it is really important to remember why you did something in the first place - I just felt like having a good old brush down and going outside of my comfort zone; I have done series drama for about twelve years and I thought it was time to break out o my comfort zone and terrify myself (laughs), So I did.

- During the early part of your career you split your time between TV and the stage so how do the two compare and differ?

They are completely different, the same but completely different. Both are exhausting; there are very long hours in TV and there is a lot of waiting around, it's moment to moment and you have to be ready - so you are going from inertia to your top peak so that's quite tiring.

But with theatre you are playing a story that beginning, middle and end and you are charting a journey. And I suppose the relationship with the audience changes things as well, they are as much part of it as you are; the experience on the night. So it's very very different really.

- Now you have jumped back into theatre work how important is it for you to continue in that medium?

It doesn't make any difference to me whether it's television, film or theatre I just am anxious, and always brave been, to do good work - I don't mind what medium it's in if it's creatively stimulating and interesting then I will have a look at it.

- You are about to head out to Africa to shoot a new documentary so can you tell me about that?

Yes that's a BBC documentary for a charity called Every Child and it aims to reunite children with family members who have been bereaved by the Aids virus - to give them a proper childhood so they can go to school.

- So how did this project come about? And how did you get involved with it?

They approached me when I was doing Blithe Spirit, I met them in between shows one day, and I just really thought about it because I have my own children and I wanted to get them into school before I went off.

But once I knew I had got them happily settled then I would go and do it because I think that it's important to give something back.

- So it's s subject that you feel quite passionately about?

Anything involving children and their well being and their right to be a child I feel very passionately about - I work in Africa for five months last year and I saw the poverty and the depravation of people and how serious is within that culture; and how devastating that epidemic is. So when they asked me I thought 'yes I will do that willingly.'

- Of course Spooks is one of the roles that you are best known for so what was it about the character of Ros that attracted you to the series?

I loved her! I though Ben Richards wrote her really well from the get go - she just made me laugh. She was really cool and fearless and uncompromising - she was just a great character I thought.

- You left in 2009 was it your decision to leave and was it the right time to say goodbye to that character?

Yes. I was on the show for four years and she was such a strong character and it's difficult to maintain that and keep the writing interesting and I didn't want to become a parody of the character.

So I got out  at the right time for me but I miss it enormously. I loved the people; the cast and the crew were the loveliest bunch of people but it really was time for me to get out and go and do something different.

- Over the years character such as Karen Marsden in Cold Feet, Ros in Spooks and Carol Jordan in Wire in the Blood so are you naturally draw to strong female characters?

I think I am drawn to them and they are drawn to me, do you know what I mean? My experience of being an actor is I have done what has been presented to me, I have taken choices on what has been presented to me and I haven't gone out and thought 'oh I want...'.

I have love the characters that I have played and I do enjoy watching series drama because I like to getting to know a character and following them on a journey. I enjoy it and find it quite comforting (laughs) watching it and when you know someone that well of working in that way as well. 

- And you have enjoyed a career that has spanned over twenty years so how has the way that you pick roles and projects changed in that time?

I suppose that when you are starting out... the industry has really changed since I started out you had to do reps to get your card and I went to the Mercury Theatre in Colchester, Manchester Royal Exchange and Thorndike in Leatherhead and you learnt your craft that way, on the stage, but that doesn't really happen anymore.

And then I went into episodes of Casualty and The Bill to sustain you because you are living hand to mouth. Then I suppose Cold Feet introduced series drama to me and I sort of stayed in series drama since then - when I left Spooks I thought 'right I am going to go back to theatre' and I am looking forward to what drama I next do.

- Well you have touched on my next question really in the career that you have had how have you seen the industry change and has it changed for the better?

I think it has really really changed! When I started out this idea of celebrity wasn't really in existence as it is now - and that has been the major thing that has changed.

Also the breakdown of the infrastructure within the BBC has really changed there just use to be a lot more time - I did the The Men's Room in the early nineties, which was a big BBC drama, there was lots of money and lots of time.

If you were given a bit part you were put up in a hotel and it would take two days to shoot something and costume and makeup would be really specialised with really highly trained people. Now, if I was offered the same job, I would be in an out in a day (laughs).

It's squeezed, the whole industry is squeezed. The training within the BBC is gone, so all the makeup artists that were BBC trained there is not scheme there anymore. It's just a lot faster, quicker, less money and less reverence around it really.

- I was reading an interview in which you said Cold Feet changed you life so how did it have such a big impact?

I think it did on all of us who were in it really - just being in something that was so commercially successful. It meant, for the first time, I could travel, I got a mortgage and bought my first flat - I had gone from a jobbing actor to being in a series drama.

A=B=C it just went on from there really I wouldn't have done Ros if I hadn't Karen in Cold Feet; my career path would have been different probably.

- And Cold Feet is still held in such high regard did you get the feeling that you were making something special back when you were filming the series?

I think we all knew we were making something special because it was genuinely exciting in the read through's as we read through those scripts and listened to what the actors did with it - it really was.

I really looked forward to sitting in a read through, and I think we all did, there was a real enjoyment in that. People still look at that series and genuinely love it ten years on and it has really stood the test of time in that regard - it's like 'blimey!'

- Outcasts was your last TV project so how did the role of Stella come about?

Well it was Qudos, the same production company that does Spooks, so they offered me that and I just thought that it was a bold and adventurous idea.

It was the one job I thought... I was given on e script before we started... and I had no idea what it was going to be like - I saw it on the page but I didn't realise what it would be like with costume, aesthetics, set design and where the scripts and the stories would go.

So it was a leap of faith really of  seeing what it would be like and I think it was quite a bold attempt - I'm not sure if it worked - but it was a bold attempt and I admire that.

- It's a great cast with Daniel Mays, Ashley Walters and Liam Cunningham so how was the filming experience?

Oh they were lovely! Liam and I didn't stop laughing walking round and round that spaceship - I love Liam Cunningham and Dan and Ashley - they were all lovely people.

- How did you find shooting in Africa?

Bizarre really. I think it was quite tough for all of us because we have all got young children; Ashley, Danny, Liam's are slightly older and myself we had then all over. It was a long long time to be away from home so I took Wilf out of school for a term - so I think we all found it quite tough but we enjoyed it.

- You are also a mother of two children so how difficult is it juggling being a parent with work?

I think it's really hard for all women - we all have to work in this day and age and we don't have the privilege of being at home. But to be honest I enjoy my work and I think that it makes me a better mother but it is a juggling act.

The Phillips Perfect Care Campaign has done some research at how difficult that it is and a lot of women feel very guilty about their house being a mess, not having enough time for the partners and children and not having enough time for work. Less than 40% of women enjoy and hour of 'me time' a week - I think that it's just really hard.

- So few women have 'me time' so what do you do with your 'me time'?

My 'me time' is my children's time because that is what I love. I don't really have any 'me time' because I would rather be with my children than with myself (laughs).

I'm either at work, and I am quite strict about it really, if I am not at work then my time is my children's and I am very happy with that. But I was older when I had my children, I was forty when I had my daughter, so I am not hankering to go out partying or clubbing (laughs)

- Finally what's next for you?

I am about to go off to Africa and do this documentary and then I am doing some work for Maggie's Cancer Care, I'm doing a night hike through London raising money for Maggie's Cancer Care centres so I am very excited about that. And then who knows what the next chapter will bring.

Hermione Norris is supporting the launch of Philips PerfectCare, a revolutionary new steam generator, that can be used safely on any fabric. 

With one perfect setting, it effectively removes creases from all materials easily and quickly. PerfectCare - the fastest and gentlest way to perfect ironing! For more information, visit Philips.co.uk.

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

And during that time she has taken some of television's toughest and most beloved characters. I caught up with her to chat about her career so far as well as the Philips PerfectCare campaign.

- You are working with Phillips for the launch of PerfectCare so can you tell me a bit about it?

It's fantastic, seriously Helen. It's this iron and it ejects so much steam that it cuts down the amount of manual labour involved. It has also got this one optimal heat setting so you don't ever have to alter the temperature so it works automatically on any fabric. So it's idiot proof as well.

- Are you not an ironing fan.

I find ironing and sweeping, that's ridiculous, really quite calming (laughs) I think it must be the mundaness of it all I find that it really calms me down - my life is so mad; obviously it's not a passion of mine but I don't mind it.

- You have just finished working in the West End with Blithe Spirit so how was the run of the play?

I hadn't been on stage for twelve years so I was incredibly nervous about going back - and it was just very odd being back stage and drawing on experiences of ten or twelve years ago; it was just really small things like waiting for the cue light and going back to my craft really.

So I was really glad that Did it and I was really glad that I went back to my roots.

I was really tired by the end of it because I had gone back thinking that it would be a better work balance with my children - if you are filming you are on set twelve hours a day - and I thought 'at least I can take them to school and pick them up' but when its 6.30am when you have eight shows a week (laughs) it's tough.

- As you say you have been away from the theatre for just over a decade so what was it that made you want to go back?

Well I think it is really important to remember why you did something in the first place - I just felt like having a good old brush down and going outside of my comfort zone; I have done series drama for about twelve years and I thought it was time to break out o my comfort zone and terrify myself (laughs), So I did.

- During the early part of your career you split your time between TV and the stage so how do the two compare and differ?

They are completely different, the same but completely different. Both are exhausting; there are very long hours in TV and there is a lot of waiting around, it's moment to moment and you have to be ready - so you are going from inertia to your top peak so that's quite tiring.

But with theatre you are playing a story that beginning, middle and end and you are charting a journey. And I suppose the relationship with the audience changes things as well, they are as much part of it as you are; the experience on the night. So it's very very different really.

- Now you have jumped back into theatre work how important is it for you to continue in that medium?

It doesn't make any difference to me whether it's television, film or theatre I just am anxious, and always brave been, to do good work - I don't mind what medium it's in if it's creatively stimulating and interesting then I will have a look at it.

- You are about to head out to Africa to shoot a new documentary so can you tell me about that?

Yes that's a BBC documentary for a charity called Every Child and it aims to reunite children with family members who have been bereaved by the Aids virus - to give them a proper childhood so they can go to school.

- So how did this project come about? And how did you get involved with it?

They approached me when I was doing Blithe Spirit, I met them in between shows one day, and I just really thought about it because I have my own children and I wanted to get them into school before I went off.

But once I knew I had got them happily settled then I would go and do it because I think that it's important to give something back.

- So it's s subject that you feel quite passionately about?


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