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Suranne Jones: 'Actors are such a funny breed... the fear drives us'

As detective drama Scott & Bailey returns for a fifth run, Suranne Jones tells Keeley Bolger about adding more strings to her bow, why she loves chatting with fans and why all actors worry about their next job

Published 09/04/2016

Suranne Jones
Suranne Jones

Since her TV breakthrough in Coronation Street, Suranne Jones has glided through roles in dramas, satirical comedies and even appeared as the human embodiment of the Tardis in Doctor Who, picking up a string of awards along the way.

Success has not lifted the 37-year-old's grip on reality, though, and nor have the people she encounters.

"Someone said to me the other day, 'you used to be in Corrie, didn't you?', and I said, 'yes, 12 years ago'," she reveals with a laugh.

"And he said, 'how's it going, you still doing a bit?' I said, 'oh, it's going all right'. I was just thinking, 'what have I done?', I've definitely done stuff!"

Of course, 'doing a bit' is a modest way of describing Jones's career. Over the last year alone she has won a National Television Award for Doctor Foster - and just picked up a Bafta nomination for her performance as Gemma, the titular doctor in the tense series - alongside producing and starring in the forthcoming fifth series of Scott & Bailey, while also finding the time to marry magazine editor Laurence Akers and give birth to their first child, a son, in March.

Despite her healthy CV, the Oldham-born actress admits she's had moments of doubts.

"Actors are such a funny breed, in that we all have times where we go, 'I just don't want to do this any more'," she confides.

"It's nonsense, because then someone will offer you a job and you'll go, 'yes, of course I'll do it'. That's the insecurity with our job, because you never know where the next role is coming from. No matter how successful you are, there's always a fear of someone not wanting me to play something else."

But with police drama Scott & Bailey returning this month, and a second series of Doctor Foster ordered, it's fair to say Jones is in demand.

That said, the actress - who started her career aged 21 as sassy seamstress Karen McDonald in Coronation Street - is taking on responsibilities behind the scenes, in a bid to give herself more staying power.

"You have to try and take control of those fears sometimes, and just go, 'no, it's fine, this is my job'. I'm still doing it at 37. I've been doing it for 18 years.

"But I like to develop ideas for friends. I like writing and I enjoy the production part a lot, actually. It gives you longevity in a career, where you know sometimes you might not always have the time to do the parts you want to do," she adds.

She is returning to familiar ground, however, as hotheaded DC Rachel Bailey in Scott & Bailey. This series sees Rachel return to the north after a year in the vice squad in London.

Her partner DC Janet Scott, played by Lesley Sharp, has been holding the fort.

"The focus is always on the two women and how real their relationship is," says Jones, who came up with the idea for the series while chatting with former Corrie colleague Sally Lindsay at the pub.

"We wanted to explore what that time apart does to people," she adds of the themes this time around.

Like Scott & Bailey, the second series of Doctor Foster sees her working as an associate producer, as well as starring in the programme.

Many fans of the show have told Jones they think Gemma is "mental", but she's enjoying the reaction.

"It was on Gogglebox! I like Gogglebox anyway, and then I was watching it and was like, 'oh my God, it's me, oh my God, what are they going to say?'" she says with a laugh.

Despite her love of the Channel 4 commentary series, Jones has sworn against ever appearing on the show with her husband, should the opportunity ever arise.

"I don't want people to know what I say, because it would be terrible. I scream at the telly!

"And my husband says I don't shut up during films and dramas and it really p***es him off, because I'm constantly saying, 'why are they doing that?'

"Eventually he'll just say, 'right, quiet now, cinema rules'."

Being in Doctor Foster has meant Jones has found herself privy to some interesting conversations.

"I have been told a lot of stories about cheating partners," she says. "Enough to fill a book with.

"That always shocks me ... I go, 'oh my God, really?', and then I get all caught up with what someone's partner's done and then what they've done to their partner, and then I'm like, 'I shouldn't be enjoying this'."

Chatting to fans is something Jones relishes.

"Some people are embarrassed and say, 'can I have a photo of you? I suppose you hate it', but actually, it's very sweet," she says.

"It means you've meant something to them, whatever that might be. I'm like, 'no, it's nice you enjoy something that I've done', because that's why we do it, as entertainers.

"We're not saving lives, we're not doctors, but it's great when someone's sat on their sofa and enjoys something, because it means that they've got out of their head for a little while."

Scott & Bailey returns to ITV on Wednesday, April 13

Belfast Telegraph

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