Keeley Hawes: The day I was seriously spooked by a Belfast 'taxi driver'
One of the stars of TV's best-known British spy drama has revealed how she was spooked by a frightening experience which took place on her way to a Northern Ireland film set.
Spooks actress Keeley Hawes had just flown in to Belfast to play Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton in the police drama Line Of Duty when the unsettling incident took place.
Hawes (37), who also starred in Ashes To Ashes, said that when she entered the airport arrivals lounge she found a minicab driver carrying a white board with her name on it.
The man took her suitcase and began to lead her to his car and "I went happily along with him", Hawes said.
"We'd just walked through the sliding doors out of the airport when I looked over and saw a bunch of drivers from a big cab firm and there was another sign with my name on," she told the Radio Times.
"The second one looked slightly more official. I said: 'Has there been a double booking?' "The guy with my case said: 'I don't know'. I said 'Well, who called you?'. He said 'I don't know'.
"Then he let go of my case and walked off."
Hawes, who is the daughter of a London cab driver, said: "I should have noticed something when I said hello and he said 'Oh, I was hoping you'd be blonde'.
"That's not something people normally say – I guess it's a bit creepy."
The next day Hawes told the BBC2 show's police adviser, an anonymous high-ranking officer, about the driver.
She said: "He looked into it and put my mind at rest a bit.
"The police tracked the guy's numberplate through CCTV. So (the adviser) is a good guy to know, on and off set..."
Asked whether police had ever worked out what the incident was about, she said: "I don't know... it was a bit frightening."
Last night, the BBC appeared to have solved the mystery. A spokeswoman said Hawes had been concerned about the incident but it had since been discovered that her taxi was double booked.
Hawes said that she enjoyed having a dowdy rather than glamorous appearance in her latest on-screen role as the single and lonely DI Denton.
"I've had a nice run in my career playing well-dressed and well-presented ladies and it's sometimes a stretch for people to imagine me playing anything else," she said.
"It was oddly relaxing and liberating to wander round on set in an elasticated prison outfit. I'd roll up to hair and make-up and make the tea – because I had nothing to do."
The Upstairs, Downstairs actress added: "One of the sound guys watching said: 'It's almost like when Charlize Theron did Monster.'
"I thought: 'Wow, well thank you.... I'll take that actually'. But then I remembered – Charlize Theron put on three stone, had prosthetics and shaved off half her eyebrows, but I was me with no make-up."
Keeley Hawes is known for her TV roles as Zoe Reynolds (above) in Spooks (2002–04), Alex Drake in Ashes To Ashes (2008–10) and Lady Agnes in Upstairs, Downstairs. She is married to ex-Spooks co-star Matthew Macfadyen. They have two children, and she has a third by first husband, cartoonist Spencer McCallum.