Sarah Parish revealed that her character in the BBC satire W1A, scary Anna Rampton, is based on three media executives – but she refused to reveal their names.
“I’d never work again. It’s three different people – they’re all in the business and they’re all very powerful, so I’m never going to say – but I love them all dearly.”
Parish and her husband and fellow actor, James Murray, were discussing their careers with ITV News Meridian presenter Sangeeta Bhabra at an RTS Southern event in March.
The two actors said their favourite roles were characterised by great writing; for Parish, these included playing Beatrice in David Nicholls’ adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, Anna in the John Morton-scripted W1A and parts in two Peter Bowker series, Blackpool and Monroe.
Murray name checked Russell T Davies’s Cucumber: “When the writing sings and you connect with it, every- thing else is just so easy.”
Despite their success, both actors admitted to insecurity. Parish said many actors suffer from “imposter syndrome”, explaining: “You turn up on set and you think, ‘I don’t feel that I deserve to be here’.... We’re all as insecure as each other; we are all filled with self-doubt. It’s what we live with as actors.”
Murray added: “Being on set and doing what you love doing probably represents about 5% of what the job entails; the lion’s share is waiting around, either for the phone to ring or managing your anxiety or expectations – that’s the tough part of being an actor and why you have to commit to it.”
Rejection, he said, was part of the job, although “the older you get, the better you deal with rejection, because you have so much experience of it”. He revealed that he had come “really close to [landing] a life-changing role” in Game of Thrones. “[Rejection] is really tough but it is an acute pain – it’s like ripping off a Band-Aid – so it’s really painful for a really short period of time. Then you take a deep breath and you go, ‘Next’.”
One of Parish’s recent roles was in ITV drama Bancroft, in which she played a corrupt cop who is also a cold-blooded killer. “We are all typecast as actors by the way we look. I just happen to have quite an angular look about me that doesn’t scream ‘fluffy bunny’, so I do tend to get cast as either people of quite high status or people who like to kill other people,” she said, laughing. “I really enjoy playing baddies – they always have the best lines.”
The couple worked together shortly before Christmas on ITV cop show McDonald & Dodds, in which Murray plays a police chief superintendent, for the first time since the BBC One drama Cutting It, 16 years ago. “It was really lovely. We had a few scenes together. We were a bit nervous,” said Murray. “I wouldn’t want to do it every day, because you want to keep your work life and home life separate.”