Tamzin Outhwaite speaks about her most important role as a mother ahead of new stage role
PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 September 2014
Tamzin Outhwaite is a little breathless when negotiating the first question of our interview, but whether it is down to her frenetic schedule or excitement over her imminent appearance in a West End play is not initially clear.
Despite experiencing all facets of showbusiness from London to Hollywood during a career spanning nearly two decades, the Goodmayes-born actress’s enthusiasm certainly remains undampened.
This is surprising when you consider how, last year, the former EastEnders star, who has two young daughters – Florence, six, and two-year-old Marnie – was widely reported to have ended her seven-year marriage to actor Tom Ellis following an alleged infidelity when filming in America.
I was warned off raising the subject with the former Ursuline Convent and Trinity Catholic School pupil by her representatives, but one year on she happily confirmed her two children were her main priority – above any of her acting jobs.
“It is not a breeze, but I think I have just been particularly lucky,” said Outhwaite.
“I now have to be working in London. I think if I go away to film, I can’t go away for large chunks of time because of school and stuff. My children are quite young. I want to be around at this stage of their lives – they are not young for long.”
The 44-year-old, who grew up in Snaresbrook and now lives in Crouch End, spoke fondly of her childhood and schooldays in Ilford.
“I have amazing memories of Ursuline. I remember being on the trampoline and doing an awful lot of sport,” she said.
“I think I was quite bright but I was not majorly academic.”
Her first Saturday job was a far cry from the stage – working at the Barretts shoe shop in Ilford.
“In the morning, before I went to school, I would go to Rossi’s ice cream and get an egg and tomato roll,” she said.
“I also have massive memories of Bodgers, which was an old-fashioned shop. You would get your school uniform and stuff like that there.”
Outhwaite is already signed up to do two more series of BBC crime drama New Tricks, in which she plays Det Ch Insp Sasha Miller.
And, next week, Ben Ockrent’s comedy Breeders will open at the St James Theatre in Victoria, with Outhwaite playing Andrea, one half of a same-sex couple trying to understand the nuances of artificial insemination.
Ockrent wrote Breeders following a real-life experience where he was asked by friends to donate his sperm.
Outhwaite admitted the plot was one of the motivations for getting involved, and said she had sought advice from friends on the subject.
“The storyline is quite a modern idea,” she said.
“My dad was reading the lines with me the other day at home and he could not get his head round the whole concept.
“The whole contemporary edge about how they were actually going to make this work was extremely attractive to me because it is something, I think, which has not been done before.
“The other thing is the dialogue is really witty and fast. It crackles at a speed and it is also extremely dark. Because it is so dark, that makes it even more humorous.”
She said rehearsals for the production, which opens next week, were going “absolutely stupendously”.
“It is a relief to get through them without laughing,” she added.
Outhwaite will star alongside Ockrent’s fiancée Jemima Rooper, Nick Burns and Angela Griffin – formerly of Coronation Street, Waterloo Road and One Man, Two Guvnors – who plays her on-stage partner.
But she said that, with each appearance and the passing of each year, learning lines had become more of a problem than it once was.
“As I get older, it gets much more difficult to learn, it is more difficult to retain information. I think it is quite natural,” she said.
“If you stopped worrying about that, you are probably in the wrong profession.”
Breeders is running at St James Theatre, Palace Street, SW1, until October 4. Call 0844 264 2140 to book.
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