THE OUTNET’S Head of Content, Claudia Mahoney, got to catch up with British actor, muse of being our most authentic selves and Nottingham fare-dodger extraordinaire Vicky McClure. In case you missed their live conversation, we made sure to save some of the best bits…
Claudia: Welcome Vicky McClure! Everyone always sees that you are, very true to yourself and you are famously Nottingham born and bred. So, what makes it home and would you ever leave?
Vicky: No, I don’t think I would, the reason being, I work away from home all the time. So, to then come back home it’s like, I come back home to my family and my friends and a place that I know and love.
Claudia: I actually heard a really funny story, I don’t know if it’s true, but they named a tram after you, then fined you for being on the tram without a ticket?
Vicky: So, to be fair, it was exactly what you’re saying it is. I got this tram named after me, which, is amazing and I’m still like in awe of it every time I see it. The day that they presented it to me, me and my mum were going shopping in town. So, we said ‘after this we’re gonna jump on the tram and go and finish our Christmas shopping.’ And then turned around and went ‘oh, well, we’ll get you a free ride’ And I was like, ‘oh, ok, great!’ So, they didn’t ask us to get a ticket, but the weirdest and cringiest part was that they had this like plaque that says, ‘Tram 224 now belongs to Vicky McClure.’ So, when we were just about to jump off and the train guy came over to get the tickets I was like ‘oh my god,’ and I had to do that thing where I was like ‘oh, this is really awkward, but I’ve just been given my own tram.’ And he was just like ‘get off the tram, get off, what you on about?’
Claudia: He didn’t believe you! So, you had to do the ‘do you know who I am?’
Vicky: Yeah! And then he had to radio through and everything and I was like ‘oh my god, this is mortifying.’ And then Johnny, my fella, is still on the tram, taking pictures, absolutely in stitches. So, I thought ‘this is awful.’ But, very, very, very true.
Claudia: That is amazing. Now, despite being fare-dodger extraordinaire in Nottingham, you’re also a BAFTA-nominated and winning actor, but I guess the road to that sort of success hasn’t always been easy. So, what do you think gave you that tenacity to keep going?
Vicky: You know, when something’s not handed to you on a plate, it’s harder, it just is, you haven’t got that quick route. Then when you succeed in certain things, even if it’s a really small victory, it just gives you that oomph to go again and keep giving it your all. I suppose that’s kind of what kept me going, that and the belief that people like my family and my friends had in me.
Claudia: If you had to look back on that, what advice would you give to yourself or what advice would you give to actors coming up through the ranks?
Vicky: The biggest thing for me was, the one thing that I learnt, I used to go into auditions and try to put on like a posh voice, try and be something that I expected they wanted me to be and actually, you know, just embrace your accent, who you are, where you’re from, be proud of where you’re from and try not to follow the pack too much because there isn’t one way to get into this industry.
Claudia: But working-classes are better represented now in the writing and the things that people want to see on TV as well.
Vicky: Yeah, it’s getting there, it’s not enough for me yet, I still want there to be more. You know, it doesn’t matter what background you’ve got and what training you’ve had, there are never gonna be enough jobs for the amount of actors there are.
Claudia: I was going to ask you about working with, Shane Meadows obviously, and Jed Mercurio but you worked with Madonna didn’t you? I want to know what that was like! Are you best friends?
Vicky: Just throw that in there! Sadly not, I mean, not for any reason… I just, I was never gonna say to her ‘can we swap numbers?’ Because I was just like ‘be professional Vicky.’ I didn’t even have an agent at the time. She’d watched A Room for Romeo Brass, which was one of Shane’s films, and apparently it’s like one of her favorite films.
Claudia: So, I wanted to ask you about working with Shane Meadows and the fact that a lot of it is impromptu, unrehearsed, and it comes from you. Was that a scary experience to walk into or did you think ‘oh my god, I’ve found my home and vocation and I’m loving this?’
Vicky: Do you know what? The reason Shane found, or that Shane finds a lot of his cast is because he goes to the workshop. And the workshop in Nottingham is very sort of well-known and quite famous for improvisation. So, all the kids that are there have been doing that all week, all year-round. So, it’s not like I’m a complete pro at it, it’s just, some people are really confident to just pick up Shakespeare and go ‘I studied this to high heaven, so It’s no worry to me to do a bit of Macbeth.’ Whereas for me that’d be like gasp, absolutely petrified. Then if you say to me ‘right, here’s a scenario, I’m not going to give you any lines, I’m just going to ask you to go off and do it.’ I’d be a bit more comfortable doing that.
Claudia: With Line of Duty, when you’re on hit shows, when you’re inside them and you’re making them, do you know that it’s gonna be a success, do you get like a sense of that or is it just something that you just have to put to the public?
Vicky: Absolutely, it’s all down to the public. You just don’t know. Line of Duty was not the kind of thing where we went ‘oh, we know we’re gonna be reaching that many million viewers.’ it wasn’t anything anybody really knew about and even now people go ‘we’re just going back to re-watch all the series.’ Because they started in series 4 or 5.
Claudia: Well, the casting’s amazing as well, people from different backgrounds being there, comedy or Hollywood stars in there as well. It’s a level playing field, you can’t just think ‘oh, well, Thandie Newton’s in it, so she’s gonna be absolutely fine, isn’t she? They aren’t put on any pedestal are they?
Vicky: No, they’re not. And, do you know what, I’d like to think that everybody feels like this that has worked on the show, that every year there’s like a new gang, you know what I mean? Because, they come with the guest star, and it never feels like it’s mine and Aidy and Martin’s show, it’s like… the guest star comes in, we get a whole new batch of people in and they just love it. And at the moment we’ve got Kelly McDonald, who’s the new guest lead, who is amazing.
Claudia: I wanted to ask you as well about the program that you made about the dementia choir, which was so unbelievably touching, because normally, I guess you’re playing a character and you’re known as an actor, but when you’re presenting like that, you’re yourself. Is that something that came naturally to you?
Vicky: Not really naturally, So, I just said ‘I’m gonna be myself and I just want to be able to talk to people in the choir the way I’d talk to a neighbor, a friend.’ And then when it comes to speaking to people like the scientists and having to ask questions, I’m just going to ask questions as if I was like sat in a doctor’s office. Like, you don’t really understand something and then they have to explain it.
Claudia: And what about lockdown experiences? I saw, the Relative Values piece of you and your partner in your dressing gowns. Have you been on sun loungers, in your dressing gowns the whole way through?
Vicky: Right, no banana bread, no instruments, I’m not gonna lie, we’d literally been told from Line of Duty like ‘right, you need to go home.’ So, I got back and I ordered jigsaws. I thought like ‘what, this is gonna be three weeks?’ I’ll just have a bit of time off, maybe learn my lines, do a few jigsaws and then it just started to unfold. It changes every single day. Even now, the way it’s all feeling now is like ‘should we go out, should we…’ I can’t tell you how many people on Instagram are on holiday! Like, how have they got there? I’m just not ready. I’m not ready to get a flight anywhere if you know what I mean. Like, I’ve been going out, but I’m not going out unless I really need to.
Claudia: Vicky, we’re really grateful to you for giving us your time this evening and talking so openly, I think everyone is really, really grateful as well.
Vicky: Cheers everybody! Bye Claudia!