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'I wasn't sure that Lizzie would be accepted, luckily she was'

As TV detective drama Lewis gets set to return, Gemma Dunn catches up with actress Angela Griffin who tells how she learned to run in heels

Published 03/10/2015

Angela Griffin in Lewis with star of the show Kevin Whately
Angela Griffin in Lewis with star of the show Kevin Whately
Angela Griffin on the set of the detective drama
Angela Griffin in Lewis with Tim Pigott Smith

She's been a familiar face on British television since the early Nineties, and English actress Angela Griffin isn't about to drop her prime-time baton any time soon.

Reprising her role as Detective Sergeant Lizzie Maddox, Griffin returns to ITV's Lewis, alongside veteran duo Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox, who play Inspector Robbie Lewis and his partner, DS James Hathaway.

Nine seasons in and the show - a spin-off of ITV's hit series Inspector Morse - remains one of the channel's best-loved and enduring dramas, which left Griffin (39) admittedly "nervous" prior to joining the cast last year.

"I wasn't sure if people would accept Lizzie; they love the Lewis-Hathaway dynamic, so to come into that is hard," says the Leeds-born actress, best known for her long stint in Coronation Street, as well as time on Holby City and Waterloo Road.

"It takes a while to win people around, but luckily she was accepted."

And while she insists she "doesn't get anything like what the boys get" in terms of fandom, the reactions have been reassuring, to say the least.

"I've not had one negative comment; they (Lewis and Hathaway) do what they do and I cut through the middle of it all."

Since it was first broadcast in 2006, the detective drama has garnered a cult-like following - particularly from its filming location of Oxford, where tradition has it that the city's students gather to watch each series' opening episode. And the latest run doesn't look likely to disappoint.

Now an integral part of the team, Maddox is set to investigate more murder mysteries and, as Griffin reveals, "she's back with confidence".

"When Lizzie first arrived, she was on the verge of leaving because Hathaway was driving her mad, but they've since found a way to rub together.

"She knows her place, so they get along well," she declares.

But her character's new-found poise doesn't end there: channelling a more relaxed hairstyle and leaving her formal suits behind in favour of a more youthful leather jacket, she's more laid-back and "less severe".

While her husband is working away in Canada, Maddox even finds herself going out more and drinking with new friends.

"They've been together since they were young, so this is her first taste of independence and she's really enjoying it," Griffin sympathises.

And what about acting drunk? "I've got plenty of experience to draw on," says the actress, chuckling.

But with two daughters with her actor husband Jason Milligan, she struggles to empathise with child-free Maddox, claiming "it's far easier to come into work with a hangover, than it is to wake up with two children who don't understand your pain".

Fulfilling a detective role must present some challenging scenes?

"I've not got a gun and I've not had any chases yet, so my biggest challenge to date is actually filming in a leather jacket mid-heatwave," Griffin teases.

"Oh - and I did have to run in heels," she adds. "I was wearing a block heel on cobbles, and everyone was so worried that they went out and bought me trainers! I run in heels all of the time - I've got children!"

As for learning detective and law enforcement jargon, she promises that it's to be strictly "left behind in the Winnebago" after filming, and while the team are keen to keep the drama as realistic as possible, Griffin explains that the series would be "utterly dull, boring and laborious", should they stick to every real-life process.

"It's television. There are certain things that need an artistic license, but I leave it up to the writers to tell me what the procedure is. We don't do anything that would be glaringly dangerous."

So if she's not swotting up on the lingo, what does the seasoned actress do between takes? "I spend a lot of time on my phone," she admits, "which is terrible, as I'm always telling my children not to be on theirs. I email, do some business, play Candy Crush and use Twitter and Instagram.

"Oh, and I'm reading a very good book at the moment - The Children Act by Ian McEwan."

Well acquainted with iconic British TV, Griffin credits Lewis for allowing her to "be a part of something".

"It's the tradition; when you're part of a show that you know is really loved and obviously works, it's a lovely feeling."

From the cobbles of Oxford to the famous cobbles of Weatherfield, she is happy to admit that she wouldn't rule out a return to Corrie, but "it would have to be a really good storyline".

"I left 18 years ago, so if I went back, I would have to take Steve's love child with me [who would now be 18], and my character's child, who would be 20," Griffin ponders. "Now that's a scary thought..."

  • Lewis, ITV, Tuesday, 9pm

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