Actress Vicky McClure is one ‘lovely ducky’ as they say in her native Nottingham. Just the kind of lady you’d want to strike up a conversation or have a natter with. So, who better to front a campaign about getting people to start talking to each other and perhaps make new friends into the bargain?
As part of Good Morning Britain’s One Million Minutes project – encouraging all of us to take more time out to talk – Vicky has designed a ‘listening bench’ for her home town. Vicky’s bench is adorned with painted flowers and lovely life affirmations such as ‘Ay up! Take a seat and let’s have a chinwag’ and ‘Smile at a stranger’. “I feel very lucky to have been asked to design a bench – with my sister’s help!” she says.
“When all’s said and done what matters most is being there for people. Family, friends, colleagues or strangers. I love having a sense of community and being able to listen, share advice and make people laugh! It changes people’s lives and costs nothing but our time. I am a chatterbox and must speak to my friend Jo about 15 times a day – often just about stuff like what I’m having for my tea. I’ve chatted to people more since the pandemic, actually. I didn’t really know my neighbours before Covid but now we’re very friendly.”
Vicky reveals that sense of camaraderie certainly came in handy filming Trigger Point, a six-part thriller about the work of the Metropolitan Police bomb disposal squad.
“We all instantly got on. It was a tough shoot. Not just because of the Covid restrictions but also down to the fact that we were filming explosive scenes – literally. There was a real connection between us and I think that comes across on screen. You can always tell when people with great screen chemistry also have that bond in real life. It’s something very special.”
Vicky clearly has that chemistry with Adrian – who she affectionately calls Adie – Dunbar and Martin Compston, her co-stars in BBC drama, Line of Duty.
“We are best friends,” she says. “We have a laugh and, if anything, it’s Adie who gets the brunt of it having to put up with me and Martin acting like a pair of school kids around him. There’s a perfect dynamic. We have annoyed each other at times but in the same way it is with family, it’s never something so bad it’s not repairable.
“There’s a lot of football talk on set. Martin is Celtic daft and Adrian is a mad ‘Gooner’. They are obsessed. I’m a Notts County fan. I’m from a proper Nottingham family and we are literally split half and half. County and Forest. My dad and sister are Forest, me and my mum are County – as is my fiancé, Jonny.”
Jed Mercurio, creator of Line of Duty, has also produced Trigger Point. Does Vicky mind that there will inevitably be comparisons between her Line of Duty character Kate Fleming and Trigger Point’s Lana Washington?
“Not really,” she replies. “I like playing committed, brave, strong women like Lana and Kate – the kind of roles I can really get my teeth into – but these characteristics are all they have in common.
“I’ve fallen into this kind of genre of drama – it’s what actors do – but also we never expected Line of Duty to be as successful as it is. People love it so I think any comparisons are a good thing. I know we’d really love to do another series of Trigger Point.”
Even though it would mean Vicky having to don the impossibly heavy suit bomb disposal officers (called Expos) have to wear?
“It actually weighs about the same as me,” she reveals. “Initially I was given a suit that had no weights in it but one of our real-life Expo consultants managed to get hold of one which was an authentic piece of kit. I wanted to wear it because it felt right, although it was surreal moving around in it.
“There are air-conditioning tubes running through it to cool the Expos down when they’re working in incredible temperatures. We filmed during a heatwave so that was good! Joking aside, though, the real- life Expos are in those suits, all day, every day.”
Speaking of real life, could Vicky (38) ever see herself as an Expo like Lana or indeed a law enforcer such as Kate Fleming? She laughs. “No – I’m not cut out for it. Some people think I’m hard but I’m really not. I’m too scared to cross the road at times.
“What I am, though, is very nosy. I’d enjoy the interrogation, asking questions and getting to the truth.
“Yeah – I reckon I’d be all right at that!”