My chat with The Musketeers’ Maimie McCoy

‘You can’t think too much about people getting on the tube and calling you a b****!’

Maimie McCoy’s dark presence as Milady in The Musketeers has rather bewitched our screens on Sunday evenings. Here she tells me why she took the role – and about her back-up business…

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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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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

My chat with Danny Dyer

Katy Pearso and Danny Dyer

Me and Danny Dyer

“Hard man” actor Danny Dyer has just joined the cast of EastEnders. Here he reveals his affection for Helen Mirren, and why it’s tough having daughters…

Danny Dyer is not The Lady magazine’s usual interview fare. From Canning Town, the 36-year-old tends to play roles that are a little, as he would put it, “naughty.” Off-screen, though he’s not one to mince his words and his speech is littered with obscenities, he is rough and ready charm personified.

I met Danny in 2012 when he was promoting the film Deviation – a dark British thriller. The interview has never been published before, so as Danny returns to prime-time TV as landlord of the Queen Vic pub in EastEnders, we reveal what he had to say about his family and his future… Continue reading

WELCOME TO FOOD BANK BRITAIN

The Chancellor says the economy is on the mend, but prices are rising and this winter many families are struggling to put on the table.

Traditionally, harvest-festival collections at schools and in churches have raised aid for those living in poverty in far-flung lands: Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Malawi. This year, however, many donated their collections straight back into their communities.

Britain’s economy is finally growing again. But one in five Britons lives below the poverty line (despite the fact we are the world’s sixth largest economy) and many are finding it harder than ever to put food on the table.

There are currently more than 400 Trussell Trust food banks across the UK and more are opening, at a rate of three per week. The latest figures show that 355,985 people received a minimum of three days’ emergency food from the banks between April to September this year – that’s triple the number helped in the same period last year. And as 2014 dawns, things will only get worse, says Trussell Trust’s executive chairman Chris Mould. Continue reading