Actress, Sandra Huggett first found fame as Holly Hart, daughter of the central family in Channel Five’s Family Affairs. She continued to enjoy a successful career over on BBC One in Casualty, again playing a character called Holly!
Sandra has joined the cast of In The Club on BBC One playing the mouthy yet loveable, Maxine. The character’s storyline has been at the heart of the series, so far and the part of Maxine has enabled us to see a different side to Sandra’s acting ability. I caught up with the lady herself to discuss her latest role and chat about her career to date.
Sandra, thank you so much for talking to Break A Leg Review, how are you enjoying playing such a different role in In The Club?
I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s hard to explain how brilliant it’s been. For any actor to play someone so different is really exciting. Doing something different challenges you as an actor and having to do homework and research is great. I had watched the first series and loved the show, I’m also a big fan of Kay’s (Kay Mellor) writing. It was thrilling and I felt lucky to get it.
What was it like joining an established cast?
It was daunting, but I’d worked with Lorraine Cheshire (Geraldine in the show) before, I’d also worked with Jonathan Kerrigan and Will Mellor in Casualty. Working with Lorraine Cheshire again was quite exciting, especially as I knew our characters had a lot to do with each other. When I met all of the other cast members they were very welcoming and down to earth, they were looking forward to having new characters join the cast. We are like a family and it’s such an unusual scenario when you film a series like this, you bond very quickly and create a lovely network.
What’s been your favourite memory from filming the series?
My favourite scene was from episode four, the scene where the Social Worker tells Maxine that she might not be able to take her baby home. It hadn’t occurred to Maxine that she wouldn’t be able to take her baby home. Prior to this you see the idea, execution and the idea failing all very quickly and in real-time. She thinks she can take him home and doesn’t realise that she could be locked up for what she’s done. Her anger comes out first, followed by remorse, and luckily it all clicked for me in the end so I was relieved.
Kay said that the character of Maxine had to be liked by the viewers from the start, so that they would empathise with her later on. Kay does it so brilliantly that all I had to do was say the words. She has a clear idea of who she wants to cast, and her scripts also give a clear idea of who she is looking for. From reading the script, I knew what I wanted Maxine to look like.
Holly Hart in Family Affairs followed by Holly Miles in Casualty, what are your memories of those brilliant roles?
They were both brilliant jobs, Family Affairs was my first television job out of drama school. It was 2 years of 12 hour days, we drove ourselves to and from the studios, too. Upon leaving drama school I had received a tiny bit of TV technique training, but had mostly been trained for the theatre. Being in Family Affairs was like going to TV school! I learned so much, it was an amazing experience and I was devastated when we all got blown up on a boat!
As for Casualty, I was over the moon to get the job. I loved the character and I kept learning. It’s been 17 years and people still talk about Holly, I had some lovely storylines with Ian Kelsey, too.
What or who inspired you to become an actress?
Julie Walters was my inspiration, I loved As Seen on TV with Victoria Wood. I also loved Educating Rita, Julie can play anything from comedy to drama.
When I was 14 or 15 years old I auditioned for the school play as they needed a couple of extra actors. I auditioned to be Shona in Top Girls and I remember the first night of the show, the audience reaction to my scene, everybody laughed and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I spoke to my Drama teacher because I wasn’t taking GCSE Drama, but he said I could do A Level Drama, anyway. I loved comedy, I loved comedians and that was what initially connected me.
Are there any roles that you’ve a particular ambition to play?
I’ve always wanted to do television and those roles are generally unwritten, more particular roles are usually in the theatre. I’ve always wanted to do comedy, so it’s more about the genre that I have an ambition to play than the role.
What’s next for you?
Praying each night for series three of In The Club! I’m not doing anything at the moment, but I’m hoping for more exciting work. I haven’t done theatre for a long time because it’s difficult when you have a small child, although I’m certainly open to doing theatre.
I really love British drama at the moment, it’s at a real high.
Thanks to Sandra for her time and a great insight into her fantastic career, long may you reign in comedy roles and otherwise, Sandra!
Feature Photo credit: Rollem/Matt Squire – For BBC