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Claire Goose: "I love to see women in roles usually filled by males"

No stranger to the crime genre, it falls to Claire Goose to take the lead in new BBC daytime drama The Coroner

By Gemma Dunn

Published 14/11/2015

Wild west: Claire (far left) and Matt Bardock
Wild west: Claire (far left) and Matt Bardock
The full cast of The Coroner

When asked how she landed her latest crime-fighting post, Claire Goose says with a laugh: "Do you want the long version or the short version? I went up for it on my birthday, the script came in at about 5pm the night before and once I'd read it, I knew I had to go for it. I got the part, but I was already filming something else so it took a while for it to work date-wise, but eventually it did, thank goodness!"

Renowned for her roles in Casualty, Waking the Dead and The Bill, the actress has honed her craft by firmly sitting on the right side of the law - and Sally Abbott's The Coroner certainly doesn't stray from that path.

The daytime drama follows Jane (Goose), a high-flying solicitor who, after another failed relationship, returns to the small seaside town she escaped as a teenager to take up the post of coroner.

An advocate of the dead, she sets about investigating any sudden, violent, or unexplained deaths (of which there are a lot in the fictional world of Lighthaven) with the help of Davey (Matt Bardock), the local detective sergeant.

"What's so lovely about this show is it has different elements: a policing aspect and another side from the angle of the coroner," says Goose of the 10-episode series, which, in addition to creator Abbott's talents, is helmed by five writers.

"The script is really focused on regular characters, people and relationships - that's the heart of the piece. It has everything," says Goose.

Joined by her daughter Beth (Grace Hogg-Robinson); mother Judith (Beatie Edney); the pub landlord Mick (Ivan Kaye); and her comedic sidekick, coroner's officer Clint (Oliver Gomm), there are plenty of characters to be getting to grips with, but it's Jane and Davey's flirty liaisons that have everyone whispering in corners.

"You don't find out about it in this series, but they were childhood sweethearts who split when Jane won a place at Edinburgh University to study law. He kissed someone else and while it was a case of 'one strike and you're out', it really broke her heart.

"He's now married to Annette, the other woman, but you never see her. I think it becomes very apparent they should be together, but she's not the sort of woman to break up a marriage and he wouldn't just leave his wife."

Aptly, the opening episode is entitled First Love and follows the story of a reckless teen who is discovered dead at the base of a lighthouse the morning after he was caught fleeing the town with his equally young girlfriend.

With a troubled past, there's no shortage of suspects to investigate in the small community, but the question remains: did he jump or was he pushed? It's up to Jane to find out before delivering the final verdict.

The cast filmed in the West Country and Goose admits a four-month stint in Devon (locations included Totnes and Dartmouth) was "pretty intense".

"It's the different timings," explains the 40-year-old, who lives in west London with her producer husband Craig Woodrow and two young daughters.

"We'd wrap about 7pm and quite often we'd have been on the beach all day with no signal. By the time I'd get home, my kids were in bed and I'd missed them. I'd try and speak to them in the morning while I was sat in the make-up truck."

Yet in spite of stunning sea views and copious cream tea opportunities, it was Goose's "affinity to Jane" that stole her away from her family and sold her the gritty, but comedic drama.

"It's lovely to see a female in a role that is more often than not filled by a male. She loves her job and for someone who's always felt like a bit of an outsider, she's finally independent.

"Although she works alongside the police and there are protocols, no one can tell her what to do. "

Thriving on its serial format, the bold, light-hearted show is shot in self-contained episodes that can be watched in any order Monday to Friday. It's a quirky format the cast was more than happy to take on.

"One of the things I loved about my time on Casualty was working with guest stars and different actors every week. If it was just the six regular characters throughout The Coroner, things could become quite staid and fail to flourish," says Goose.

"When you've got this dynamic of new, fantastic people coming in all the time, it challenges you as an actor. And I like that."

The Coroner, BBC One, Monday, 2.15pm

Belfast Telegraph

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