Gaynor Faye: 'Balancing babies and lion cubs'
Gaynor Faye is back on our screens next week in the second series of veterinary drama The Chase. The actress tells Sunday Life of her love of alternative remedies and how she balances work with being a mum to two children...
Never work with children or animals, or so the saying goes. And it's something actress Gaynor Faye found out to her cost when she began filming veterinary drama The Chase.
"I didn't realise I was allergic to dogs until I was cuddling this little terrier puppy in a scene in the kennels," Gaynor says.
"It was wriggling away, and all of a sudden I got bunged up and got this red rash on my chest and started to sneeze.
"The allergies have got even worse on this series. I'm allergic to everything. I'm allergic to the birds, the cats, the dogs. I've got a cat at home - I've never been allergic to him and, all of a sudden, now if he comes too near my face I'm allergic to him too. So it's a bit of a shame after all those years."
Not that Gaynor has had any shortage of interesting animals to film alongside. This new series sees her starring with a six-month-old lion cub.
"It was a very big lion cub. I thought it would be little but it was huge! It still had its little cute face and it was absolutely incredible to be working with a wild animal like that. Fortunately, the tamer was at the front with some raw chicken. It's pretty unusual to be so close to something that potentially could eat you alive.
"But the funny thing is, the animal that very nearly injured me was actually a turkey.
"The animal handler put it on the table and, as I went in to have a look at it, it opened its wings - its wing span was enormous - and it nearly took my eye out!"
In next week's first episode Gaynor's character Anna has a bit more on her mind than animals. She is still reeling after discovering her husband Tom has not only been having an affair with her cousin Fiona, but they have also had a baby together. Then her dad George suddenly dies in an accident.
"What else can be thrown at her? Anna is quite vulnerable when we meet back up with her. She's been through the mill. Then she has to pull herself together and actually grows a backbone, which we haven't seen very much of - she's been very much a moralistic family woman. All of a sudden we see Anna get back on her feet, and with a new love interest."
Her new man is nurse Matt, who is a good few years younger than Anna.
"She's got all this turmoil going on in her life and this guy comes in like a whirlwind," Gaynor says.
"He's very sweet and makes her feel good about herself. It's not easy as she's got a husband who still lives in the village. She never for a second wanted her marriage to fail. She thought it would be happily ever after, but unfortunately he did the dirty on her and she can't get over that. "
But it's thankfully not all doom and gloom for marriages this series, as Anna gets stuck into preparations for her sister Sarah's upcoming wedding with a girlie hen night complete with limo and champagne.
"It was great to film it with all the girls from the show," she smiles.
"But the reality was that it was pouring down with rain and we were outside in the freezing cold with tiny dresses on."
Like her mum - TV scriptwriter Kay Mellor who created The Chase - Gaynor also has a hand in writing the series.
"I've been involved from the beginning, really. It's great. I'm heavily involved in the storylining and we have story conferences with the other writers. We all get together and basically have a big brainstorm. I love getting all the creative minds together.
"I started writing when I was pregnant with my son Oliver. Then I was asked to write Playing The Field, which was my first ever writing job.
"I've been involved in storylining and script editing on my mum's scripts from a very early age.
"I remember I used to read Children's Ward scripts and, because I was a kid, my mum picked our brains.
"She wanted to know whether we had any good stories. We used to get a tenner for each storyline they used on the show. It was a great incentive to come up with one."
Despite mainly concentrating on acting and writing, Gaynor wowed audiences doing something completely different last year when she and Daniel Whiston won ITV1's Dancing On Ice contest. So, does she still keep up the ice-skating?
"Not really," admits Gaynor, who lives in Leeds with her partner Mark and their children Oliver and Lily.
"I've hung up my skates although I still see Dan all the time. It's one of those things which was absolutely fantastic when I was doing the show, but like everything, it has its time. Mark does it more than me actually. He loves skating. He's got his own skates and he goes when he's not too busy. It's such a great thing to do with the kids. My son Oliver loves it - he's got his own skates too. They go more than me."
She may have put skating on the back-burner but Gaynor finds other ways to relax, particularly enjoying Reiki alternative healing.
"It's fantastic," says Gaynor.
"It's all about being in tune with people and being in tune with yourself. And I know for a fact that when I put my hand on somebody, I can summon up the heat and get the energy flowing through my hands to heal.
"If you're doing Reiki on somebody and you put your hands on them, your hands will automatically go to an area that needs energy. It's really good for you.
"Alternative remedies are just something I believe in. I'm not somebody to take antibiotics - I'd much rather heal myself naturally. I'm a big believer in it."
She also manages to successfully juggle being a busy actress and writer with being a mum.
"Because I live and work in Leeds it makes it much easier. I feel like I see them every day and I still have quality time with them when I get home. I finish their tea with them and put them in their bath and to bed. And I've got an amazing supportive partner who does the school run, so it works out well.
"I'm not saying it's easy because sometimes you get home and you've got loads of lines to learn. But seeing them every day when I'm in this business is a real bonus. It's lovely."
- New series of BBC One's The Chase starts next Sunday.