Hattie Morahan: The Bletchley Circle’s New Girl

“This year has been exciting, rewarding and changing.  A Doll’s House has genuinely changed things for me, it’s been a mad year, it’s been lovely, playing Nora has now become so familiar, each rehearsal period we’ve come back to has been like getting back in to an old coat and it’s like ‘oh yes I remember this’, she’s a really interesting character to play and I really enjoy her contradictions and the strange journey she goes on and so to get to have another crack at it, it’s so complex and the play is so multi layered and so rich that it it’s just a really lovely opportunity to play Nora again”

Hattie Morahan has had an exciting year, since our last interview she has won the Evening Standard Award for Best Actress a Critics Circle Award as well as an Olivier Nomination, all due to her performance as Nora in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House¸ which had two successful runs at the Young Vic and is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End.  I meet her in her dressing room, which is scattered with copies of Ibsen and she is dressed in jeans, a striped top and her hair is tied up.

I wonder what her awards mean to her and if they have helped her career, “that’s never been the goal of what one does, it’s quite daunting to take on a part which is known and people have opinions about, it’s reassuring to know that the consensus was I didn’t screw it up,” she laughs “I don’t consider it to be totally objective, I’m aware that it’s a part that draws attention to itself and it’s a part that has history. I think the Critics Circle I was particularly proud of, as these are people who really know their stuff and have been in the game for many years between them” she smiles.

The English Touring Company recently revealed a nationwide search to find the Nation’s favourite play written in the English language, I ask what her favourite play would be, “Oh gosh I’d say Shakespeare, As You Like It

Morahan is also set to appear as one of the main cast in the second series of The Bletchley Circle, I wonder if she could tell me a little bit about the show and her role in it, “There’s a group of women who worked at Bletchley Park during the War, they signed the official secrets act so all of their work helping the government break codes means they can’t tell anyone.  It’s now 1950s austerity Britain; there aren’t opportunities for bright women to find something that’s rewarding to their capabilities. So they start solving crimes, in the true tradition of ITV Dramas.”

“I play a character  who was in Bletchley Park and who has various secrets in her past, so she’s a guest in the first two episodes and she’s in prison for a crime, a serious crime and we don’t know what it is, and shes very enigmatic, and doesn’t give much away. Then she later becomes one of the group and I would say she has a lateral brain, lateral thinking, very logical, likes system and machines and shes a sort of geek.” She smiles.

” She was great fun to play and has very strong feelings and feels passionately about the people who are important to her. Shes not very gregarious, but shes intelligent in her own way, shes lovely to play, shes called Alice. I really love playing her.”

Clearly it’s been a successful year for Morahan, coupled with television appearances, leading an award winning show in the West End, she also has time to pursue projects on the side and she recently did a reading at the National Portrait Gallery of the memoirs of artist Laura Knight whom she portrayed in A Summer in February “there’s been this lovely exhibition there and there was this fortuitous coming to together of passions where I was really pleased to read her memoirs”

The Bletchley Circle series two starts on Monday 9pm on ITV1

Naomi Jeffreys, The Rabbit and Reel

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One To Watch – Anna Maxwell Martin

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

Anna Maxwell Martin, you may have heard of this name, she is an actor who is frequently in ground breaking dramas, such as Accused and Poppy Shakespeare.

Born in Beverley, near Hull in Yorkshire, she was in school plays and clearly had a talent for acting. She studied History at Liverpool University, and then went on to study at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

 

Her first job was as London’s acclaimed National Theatre in a stage adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials as Lyra. She then went on to start her television career, starring in Doctor Who. 

Maxwell Martin is perhaps best known for her role as Esther in the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel, A Bleak House. Which started her silver screen career.

She was then cast in 2007 in Becoming Jane, alongside Anne Hathway (Princess Diaries) and James McAvoy (Atonement).

From 2008 onwards, Maxwell Martin was frequently on our screens, starring in Poppy Shakespeare, Freefall, South Riding, The Night Watch. And, most recently she starred as Susan in The Bletchley Circle. 

This is an actor who has a great range and is not afraid to show it. Anna Maxwell Martin is one to watch, make sure you do.

One To Watch: The Bletchley Circle

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

When ITV does a Period Drama right, its a joy to watch. The Bletchley Circle is a three part drama series which is set in ‘1952 about four fictional women, Susan, Millie, Lucy, and Jean who have returned to their normal lives after producing crucial intelligence at the top security HQ Bletchley Park which helped the Allies to victory and shortened the second world war. With an extraordinary flair for code-breaking and razor-sharp intelligence skills the women are focused on solving murders’

Razor sharp, intelligent women, with oppressive, traditional husbands, damaged from the war. This is clever drama. It also helps that it is set post war, the men had returned, war wounded and quite often wanting to resume life as before. But, as all know, Women’s roles during the war changed, they became the breadwinners, they became the ones the family depended on.

There is perhaps on qualm with this drama, it is that the men are so stereotypical, both Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin) and Lucy’s (Sophie Rundell) husbands are brutal and are not as developed as these razor sharp women.

But, anything with Anna Maxwell Martin at its heart is going to be good. Martin plays the leader of the group, Susan, who loves ‘patterns’ and ‘crosswords’. Martin has had a good year this year, she stole everyone’s hearts in the final episode of Accused. And has had a brilliant career so far, ranging from Bleak House to Poppy Shakespeare. You know something is good if Anna Maxwell Martin is at is centre.

The third and final part of The Blecthley Circle continues on ITV1 this Thursday from 9:00pm in the UK.