Eva Pope TV Choice Interview – January 2002

Even Mum hates me as the Peak Practice psycho!

Your own personality is a world away from Claire Brightwell, the twisted nurse in Peak Practice. What reaction have you had from people?

I remember after my first episode of Peak Practice was shown my Mum rang up and I asked ‘What did you think?’ and she replied, ‘I hate you, I hate that character, she’s horrible’.

Your Mum’s right, but have you enjoyed playing her?

I’ve played Claire with relish. I’ve got a great buzz from playing someone who is a complete bitch. You have to delve into places inside yourself where would you would rather not go but in a sick kind of way it’s quite fulfilling.

So what motivates such a bitch?

Claire’s a man eater and a man user. She does what she does to get herself somewhere. She’s not searching for a normal relationship.

This week her crazy life takes a terrible twist involving Doctor Will. Tell us what’s happens.

Claire’s looking for a Father figure and Will falls into that bracket. Will’s in a vulnerable place. His marriage to Kate isn’t going well. After Claire buys him a drink in the pub he ends up in a more intimate position with her than he’s comfortable with.

He ends up accused of rape right?

He rejects her and she takes revenge. What happens is quite mysterious. I can’t really give it away as it only comes out at the end of the episode.

At least tell us if you had any raunchy scenes.

Well there’s a snog and a bed scene. The rape scene is different to what you’d imagine. At first Will is semi willing to go along with Claire but he realises his mistake and pulls back. Claire resents that and coerces him into doing something he doesn’t want to do.

Was it difficult to play?

It was quite harrowing. There was a lot of crying. It was hard as it doesn’t come from a natural place place and it’s a struggle for me to understand why a woman would behave that way.

What was Simon Shepherd like?

Simon’s lovely to work with. Some of the scenes were difficult, and he was down to earth and relaxed. When you’re acting you have to be very intimate with someone one moment and just a normal person the next. Simon’s very good at having a laugh afterwards.

Playing such a scary woman, do people ever imagine you’re like her?

I don’t think so. I’m not like Claire at all. I’m much more friendly, or maybe they do think I’m like Claire and they’re just too scared to say.

So, tell us how’s filming Peak Practice compared to Corrie?

The hours on Peak Practice were harder as I was away from home. With a soap you work five to six days a week and it’s pretty much a nine to five job. On Peak Practice you might have four days off, then you film constantly for three, then have a day off. It’s less relentless in a way but the hours are longer, you often work 14 hours a day.

Being away from home, how did you cope?

I live in North London and we were filming in Derbyshire about 230 miles away. I commuted by train. I’m married to Lawrence, a graphic designer and I’ve got my daughter Elise, she’s six. It was hard being away. I was glad to finish and get home to be a family again. A Peak Practice series takes about six months to film. I rented a converted barn in Derbyshire and Lawrence and Elise came up if I was working the weekend. Elise loved it.

What aboutPeak Practice any chance of you returning?

They’re talking about it at the moment. My character goes ballistic so it might be difficult to bring her back. If you see any of the final episodes, you will understand. I did get on with everyone up there so we’ll see what happens.

And finally is Elise proud when she sees her Mum in Peak Practice?

I don’t really like to let her watch it because I don’t think it portrays her Mum in a particularly pleasant light. This series is a bit more risky and gutsy than the one before. I don’t think they are suitable for a child of her age to watch. One evening I put her to bed and I was watching the telly when I saw this little head pop around the door and say, ‘I can hear you on telly Mummy it’s you.’ I think she was quite proud of me as her little friends at school will say, we saw your Mum in Peak Practice, and she always replies in a sad voice ‘Mummy never lets me watch it’.

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