■ The former Corrie actress, 42, on juicing, Bake Off and playing a gun-toting cop in Canadian drama The Detail
What’s The Detail about?
It’s a police procedural set in North America and it’s about two women who are detectives who struggle with their jobs as well as their home lives. My character, Stevie, is married with kids, and she’s juggling her life and her job and failing most days.
Was it nice playing a detective again after Lewis?
Yes, but she isn’t an ordinary detective — she’s not DS Lizzie Maddox walking around behind Lewis taking notes and looking at CCTV. This is North America, I’ve got a gun and a very big car. I loved it. It was so exciting. I loved playing a non-UK detective with a gun and a bulletproof vest.
Did you have gun training?
Yes, and it was incredible. They take you to a place with a guy who teaches you how to shoot for television. I learned how to empty the gun and make it look like it was something I did every day.
Did you want to keep the shooting up?
It’s a huge thing to do. My co-stars are American so they’d done the training before and were very used to it. I was on the back foot. I’d got something that could kill someone in my hand and I felt the weight of that, whereas my co-stars took it in their stride. I don’t want to keep it up because I really appreciate the weight of what it is to carry a gun but I’m glad I’ve done it. I’m glad our police officers don’t carry guns. As soon as you arm your police you’re giving criminals an excuse to shoot them and you get gun battles in the street. There’s gun crime here but not to the level it’s at over there.
Do you do a Canadian accent?
You see a lot of the CN Tower but at no point do we say we’re in Canada. I do a generic North American accent and it’s set in generic North America. I said to my agent I’ve got a decent enough American accent and was put forward for pilot season. They watch the audition tapes and then decide if they want to see you. I was shooting the series four days after I did an audition over Skype.
Do you want to do more stuff over there?
Definitely. I’ve just done something for Netflix and I was American in that. When people know you can do the accent, it opens so many doors. The parts I’m playing that are American are more interesting than some of the British parts I’m reading for.
‘If Fiona could go back with a gun and an American accent — that’s a storyline’
In this country I’m known for being northern and being working class. Maybe people find it difficult to take me out of that casting bracket, whereas in the US they couldn’t care less. They don’t care that I was in Coronation Street. If you can sound like you’re from America, they can believe you’re from America.
Will your daytime show Fat Pets ever come back?
I don’t think it will, no. What happens with TV schedules is that a show will be commissioned, then something happens and it doesn’t get made. Then someone has ten days to come up with an idea, commission it and film it for it to go out the next week. Sometimes those things happen. Sometimes they’re a success and sometimes they’re not.
Do you ever watch Coronation Street?
I’ll occasionally dip in and out but I haven’t watched it for a while. I get tweets from people because there’s a character in it now who could potentially be the daughter of my character Fiona and her boyfriend Steve McDonald — she’s the right age.
Would you go back?
If there was a big storyline, yes. I wouldn’t go back and spend 30 years there because I like playing cops now. If Fiona could go back with a gun and an American accent — that’s a storyline.
You’ve been boasting about your quinoa curry on social media. Are you a keen cook?
I am — that curry was beautiful and I made it all from scratch. I made it on my kadai, which is like a barbecue but you hang it up. I’ve just come back from a juicing holiday in Portugal — I just drank juice for a week and did loads of exercise. I feel amazing now.
Would you do MasterChef?
My best friend Lisa Faulkner won Celebrity MasterChef so I can’t do it — that’s her domain. I did Celebrity Bake Off and came second to Anita Rani. I was robbed.
No hard feelings, though?
Oh no, massive hard feelings. I’m very competitive.
What lessons has your career in showbiz taught you?
If you want any kind of security don’t become an actor. You have to want to do it more than anything in the world. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to the point where, when I’m not working, I won’t have a massive panic that I’ll never work again.
■ The Detail starts on Friday at 9pm on 5USA