OTB Meets… The Hour’s Lisa Greenwood

Ahead of the second series of BBC2’s acclaimed 1950s newsroom drama The Hour, OTB met with Lisa Greenwood who stars in the show alongside The Wire’s Dominic West and Skyfall’s Ben Whishaw as cheery secretary Sissy Cooper. We talked 1950s, Malcolm Tucker and being recognised by the public…

Hi Lisa, how are you?
I’m fine thanks, yourself?

I’m great thanks. You’ve just finished series 2 of The Hour, what was it like returning to the 1950s?
It was great. We filmed in Hornsey Town Hall, which if you haven’t been to it, is just like stepping back in time every time you go into it. It’s completely converted into the ‘50s basically. The newsroom and main rooms were all in there. It’s quite easy with the hair and makeup as well it really helps.

How do you find the shooting schedule?
The shooting schedule was fine although the hair and makeup took a long time and involved getting up really early – my call time was six in the morning, so I had to get there for half six and we didn’t leave until about nine at night! That’s because hair and makeup took so long in the morning, it took a couple of hours to get the full set of curlers in, all the makeup, costume. It was fun, I loved it.

You’ve been working with British acting royalty in Dominic West, Ben Whishaw and now Malcolm Tucker!
I feel really privileged. This is my first proper acting role and I feel really lucky. It’s quite incredible really, and they were all really down to earth and helpful. I love Peter (Capaldi). He gives really good advice… there was a day on set when I kept forgetting my lines but he calmed me down and gave me some great advice.

So he’s not as nasty as Malcolm then…
I was a bit apprehensive because I had seen The Thick of It and I thought ‘Oh God, what’s he going to be like?’ but he was really lovely, really witty and really funny.

Do you know if there will be a third series?
I spoke to the producer the other day and we’re hoping for a third, it depends whether or not it goes down well with the public. I know the majority of the cast would love to come back and do it… Three’s a good number to round it off I think.

Your first role was playing a rape victim in The Bill. That must have been quite traumatic…
Yeah, that was my first ever job and it was based on a true story, so all this horrific stuff actually happened to this young girl, and I tried to play it as well as I could but it was quite hard. At the time I was 19 and the girl was 15, but it’s only in the last few years I’ve started aging… Up until now I’ve been playing a lot of younger parts but now I’m getting roles closer to my actual age.

You’ve been on EastEnders too…
Yeah that was fun. I used to watch it at home as a kid so it was cool to check the sets out and see people you’ve grown up watching… and everyone was lovely! I’ve been really lucky, I’ve not actually worked with anyone who’s been horrible – yet!

You must get recognised more in the street now then?
Yeah I’ve actually got quite an embarrassing story about that… I was out shopping and someone came up to me saying they recognised me from the show. I’d been trying on clothes all day and as I walked away she said “Do you know your skirt is tucked into your underwear?â€? That was the first time I ever got recognised!

What acting ambitions do you have?
I would love to vary my work. I don’t want to get typecast into certain roles, but I love Firefly so I’d love to work on Doctor Who or go into indie films. I love Helena Bonham Carter, and I seem to get a lot of quirky roles. I’m not that quirky so I don’t know why I get them! I’d love to do a different thing every time as I’m at the start of my career and a blank slate.

Do you have any upcoming projects?
I’m actually off to Chicago in a couple of weeks as I’m involved in the Doctor Who audiobooks which are quite big in America so we’re going to go over and promote those. We’re going to a big convention and the fans of the show will dress up in their best Doctor Who gear so it’s quite surreal seeing all the Daleks!

Best of luck with the future, Lisa.

Series 2 of The Hour will air at 9pm on Wednesday nights on BBC2 from 14 November.