Tinker Tailor

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My chat with Mich Turner

She has baked for Pierce Brosnan, President Obama and the Queen – can Mich Turner teach us too?

Baking, it seems, was always going to be a big part of Mich Turner’s life. Even at a tender age, the celebrity cake connoisseur and judge on ITV’s Britain’s Best Bakery, was baking biscuits.

‘My earliest baking memory is when I was four years old, standing on a chair in the kitchen and making little butter biscuits,’ recalls Mich. ‘I would always pretend to be Delia Smith. I’d make biscuits in front of my imaginary audience, showing them what I was doing and how I was doing it.’

She’s come a long way from then, becoming one of the UK’s finest cake bakers – making creations for everyone from the Queen and President Barack Obama to David Beckham and Miranda Hart. But when she started out in the industry, things were rather different. Cakes, and cake making, didn’t have the kudos they do now.

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Behind the scenes… on Mr Selfridge

It’s one of the most glamorous series on television – so what’s it like to star in Mr Selfridge? I signed up as an extra to find out…

Katy pearson on Mr Selfridge

Me with Mr Selfridge (Jeremy Piven) on set

It’s 6am and I’m bound in a corset and wrapped in a furtrimmed velvet coat, which possibly weighs more than I do, in a very cold warehouse in London’s Willesden district; not quite how one imagines the set of ITV’s glamorous costume drama Mr Selfridge to be.

The new series of the colourful dramatisation of the life of Harry Selfridge (founder of Selfridges department store in London) is set to attract millions of viewers every week. Filming for the 10-episode series began in April 2013 and continued until October, and I was fortunate enough to work as one of the (on average) 50 extras used daily.

My primetime appearance (blink and you’ll miss it) airs on Sunday in the first episode of the new series. I play a bit of a, ahem, floozy, in Delphine’s Club – a new set created for this series – which has a distinctive bohemian feel to it. The two main sets – Delphine’s Club and the Selfridges store – are hidden inside a veritable maze of an industrial unit. Continue reading

My chat with Jeremy Piven

As he reprises his role as the effervescent Mr Selfridge, Jeremy Piven talks to me about glamour, the Great War and self-destruction…

Jeremy Piven is not a man who gets lost in a crowd. Fiercely intense, the three-times Emmy-award-winning actor has undeniable presence. And this month he returns to our screens, playing Harry Selfridge, the brilliant but self-destructive American who founded London’s Selfridges department store.

I first met the 48-year-old on the set of the show. He was in the middle of filming three scenes – which will appear in Sunday night’s episode – and was in character, with the strident strides and the booming voice, which echoed off the walls, whether the cameras were rolling or not.

A few weeks later, however, I got more time to speak to Piven, and asked how he was getting on with his character, Harry, as he returned for a second series. ‘After studying him and putting on his shoes for a couple of years, I have great compassion for him,’ Piven says. ‘I feel very close to him, a little like a family member.’ Continue reading

My chat with Rachael Stirling

As The Bletchley Circle returns, Rachael Stirling tells me about her mother, Dame Diana Rigg, the ‘undignified’ cult of celebrity and lessons from the brave ladies of Bletchley…

Rachael Stirling is certainly no shrinking violet. On screen, the star of lesbian BBC drama Tipping The Velvet is positively luminous and in person her joie de vivre is tangible. When we met at the launch of the second series of ITV drama The Bletchley Circle, 36-year-old Rachael was on fabulous form, roaring with laughter and regularly dragging her fingers through her mane of hair.

The series, which returned to our television screens this month, follows four women who used to work as codebreakers at top-secret Bletchley Park during the Second World War: Jean (Julie Graham), Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin), Millie (Rachael Stirling) and Lucy (Sophie Rundle). Now working as civilians, the girls reunite to solve a series of murders.

The second series winds the clock forward to the year 1953, a year on from the first series, and the girls come together to crack a second case involving a former Bletchley Park colleague, Alice (Hattie Morahan), who is accused of murder. Continue reading