Belfast's West End star Rachel Tucker lands wicked role in new BBC drama
Exclusive: Belfast girl in new BBC show
Belfast's West End and Broadway star Rachel Tucker is set to light up our television screens and have us on the edge of our seats playing a singing barmaid in the BBC's new sure-fire hit drama Informer.
The six-part series - which is being compared to the hit drama Bodyguard - follows Raza (Nabhaan Rizwan), who's recruited by Gabe (Paddy Considine) as an undercover informant for counter-terrorism police in London.
Rachel - who shot to fame playing Elphaba in the hit Broadway musical Wicked - plays Sharon Collins, a Yorkshire woman caught up in the shady world of undercover policing.
"I'm the singing barmaid," the 37-year-old says. "But I turn into something a bit more interesting. There is more to me than meets the eye. Sharon is a barmaid in a pub up north called The Legion. She sings and pulls pints behind the bar. But it's going to get a lot darker. You find out that Paddy Considine's character Gabe is leading a bit of a double life. He's been undercover up north for five years and has this other life. I'm, of course, oblivious to this. I think he's all mine.
"Sharon is a very strong, feisty woman who can hold her own, not unlike myself, but she is also vulnerable, more vulnerable than I would be. She is a good girl and extremely loyal. But the story will unfold. The group she hangs around with are very far-right. So she's not that good if she's a supporter.
"She is a Yorkshire lass. I had a voice coach to make sure I was getting the accent right. It was so interesting to do that. I have a good ear for accents and when I was doing the audition I went in really prepared."
Informer is being hailed as the new Bodyguard, which kept millions of viewers on the edge of their seats. Rachel says she can't wait for people to get hooked on it.
"I hope it's the next big show," she says. "It was really brilliant to work on. The audition came through my agent. Last year when I got this, I had probably 12 TV auditions and this is the only one I got. It's about being in the right place at the right time."
Rachel says she is delighted to have been given the opportunity to get a break on television and now has her eye on Hollywood.
"It's all about taking baby steps," she says. "This will be a good showreel. It's a catch-22 situation, especially with people in musical theatre. It is very hard for us to get our feet in the door with regards to TV and film because they just see us as singers. Now I've got my foot in there I've some type of footage to show them."
The north Belfast singer - whose father Tommy 'Tucker' Kelly was a contestant on the talent show Opportunity Knocks in the Seventies - first made waves in the entertainment business as a semi-finalist on I'd Do Anything, Andrew Lloyd Webber's television search for an actress to play Nancy in a West End revival of Oliver!
Rachel, who starred in Wicked in the West End and on Broadway, has just spent a couple of emotional days back in Belfast with Malachi Cush for UTV's Back Home, retracing her childhood steps to stardom. It will be broadcast this Tuesday evening. She says it was great to go back to her roots.
"I had a really lovely couple of days filming," she says. "I went back to my roots, going back to the Old Cave Hill Road where I grew up. I went back to school. It was emotional. Having my dad there, and my sister was amazing. My dad is an emotional fish. He is very proud but finds it hard to talk about.
"I am very proud of what I've done, what I've achieved and where I come from. My heart still belongs to Belfast. It's home."
Rachel will appear in Back Home on Tuesday at 7.30pm on UTV while Informer will air on Tuesday at 9pm on BBC1.