Rebecca Front interview: The Bafta award-winning actress on Julian Fellowes' new drama Doctor Thorne
Front has appeared in many television shows including I'm Alan Partridge, Grandma's House, and The Thick of It
You've just finished recording the fourth series of 'Incredible Women' with your brother. Where did the idea come from?
In many ways it's a standard idea, a spoof documentary, loosely based on the sort of thing Louis Theroux does. We wondered what would happen if a not-very-good version of Louis was given his own series and the brief to spend 24 hours in the home of an "incredible", as in unbelievable, woman.
Who are your characters based on?
We never base characters on one person as we don't want to do hatchet jobs. In one episode this series I play a child star for whom the work hasn't kept coming in. Her mother is a hard-bitten agent played by Alison Steadman, and her sister, who has become very famous, is played by Tracy-Ann Oberman. I love it when we're let loose on family relationships.
What role do you take on when you're working with your own family?
Even though I'm massively less experienced than my brother as a writer, I boss him around while he quietly gets on with stuff. Once I stop being bossy we work really well together and we properly make each other laugh. We've always laughed a lot as a family and my parents are very funny. This series is 95 per cent written by Jeremy because I had to fit in filming War and Peace and Doctor Thorne, Julian Fellowes' new thing, which is an adaptation of a Trollope novel, so the dynamics have been different.
Will 'Doctor Thorne' draw the 'Downton' crowd?
It's a three-part drama and a very different thing, probably coming from Julian's satirical-political side, so less of a rompy story. Having said that, it's a gripping love story and there are all sorts of machinations running through it.
Is there a show or job you consider to have been your big break?
The Thick of It certainly helped but I'd done a lot of stuff before that: The Day Today, Nighty Night, Big Train. If people recognise me they tend to know me for different things. Some love Lewis, and others absolutely love Nighty Night, and there are some who only know me as Nicola Murray from The Thick of It.
Do you miss any of your characters?
Nicola – I would happily play her again as many times as they wanted me to. I had a huge amount of sympathy for her and the predicament she was in, even though she was a fool. I've met quite a lot of female politicians who say, "It was me, wasn't it?" But that's not the way [writer] Armando works.
Does that say something about the ego of these politicians?
I think actually it says something about their vulnerability. They have it thrown at them on Twitter all the time. Whenever a female politician puts her head above the parapet, somebody says, "Oh! She's just like Nicola Murray", and I think, "Give her a chance, she's just doing her job. She is allowed to say stuff."
How was making an episode of 'Doctor Who' and working with Peter Capaldi again?
It was fantastic, and really good fun losing myself in that world, running around with guns and shooting Zygons.
What has been your proudest moment, workwise?
Winning the Bafta [for The Thick of It in 2010]. Like all actors, I thought these things didn't mean anything but when you get one, it really does.
And the most fun?
I've done a couple of series of a show for Sky called Psychobitches which is a psychological comedy thing, a sketch show, with an almost entirely female cast. If you get Sharon Horgan, Julia Davis and Sam Spiro in the same room, they're going to make me laugh out loud.
Rebecca Front, 51, has appeared in many television shows including 'The Thick of It', which won her a Bafta, ITV's long-running Inspector Morse spin-off 'Lewis', 'The Day Today', 'I'm Alan Partridge', 'Grandma's House' and 'Humans'. The fourth series of 'Incredible Women', the 'Woman's Hour' drama she writes and stars in with her brother Jeremy, starts on Monday at 10:45am. She lives in north London with her husband Phil and their two children.