Damian Michael Barcroft previews tonight’s RIPPER STREET in an exclusive interview with Charlene McKenna

Season 2: Episode 3: Become Man


MAR 09 – 12:00AM – BBC AMERICA

DAMIAN: Charlene, it’s really great to have you back and thanks so much for talking to us about Rose and Ripper Street.

CHARLENE: Thank you for talking to me.

D: Where have you been these past two weeks – we’ve missed you?

C: Ah, good things come to those who wait…

D: Indeed, I understand from interviewing other members of the Ripper Street cast that Rose has quite a journey in series two, what can you tell us without revealing spoilers?

C: She does indeed. My story kicks off properly further into the series. Rose is trying to make that better life for herself. The one she told Bennet she wanted. Trying being the operative word. She is no longer in Tenter Street but let’s just say it’s not easy getting ahead as a woman in Victorian London. And with Bennet gone and married, she’s very alone. *sobs*

D: More specifically, tell us about tonight’s episode and the return of Rose Erskine?

C: Tonight we see a glimpse into Rose’s world and where she has been, we enter the world of the Victorian music hall.

Rose in a scene from tonight’s episode

D: I remember trying to warn you quite a few times in series one to stop wandering off with strange men but Rose just wouldn’t listen, is she a little more streetwise this second time around?

C: Ha. You and me both. Rose is streetwise and was then, but she was a victim of circumstance. She never wanted to get into a black maria with strange men but had no choice. And as for Mr. Cordial (Victor Silver played by David Oakes), she thought she was going on a date with a gentleman in a park. This season she goes to places she should never dare but she is on a mission. A mission very close to her heart.

D: Now, on the subject of men – there were two events in series one that really upset the fans – one was the death of the much missed Hobbs and the other was when you broke poor Drake’s heart – can you please explain yourself young lady?

C: Poor Hobbs! I am certain he is haunting Leman St. As for Rose and Bennet, the never ending story. Rose was chasing a dime losing a treasure. She couldn’t see what was right in front of her. But she is not the type of girl to settle. She has big dreams and aspirations and wants to follow them and in that I think she is very brave. A tad naive maybe but there is armor in her youth. No one gave her credit for that and for her honesty in telling him it straight. She didn’t lead him on. However she may deeply regret letting him go…

Rose and Drake

Rose and Drake in series 1

D: Drake now seems happily married to another fallen lady, Bella – any regrets?

C: Oh don’t start me on BELLA, haha… lets just say she ain’t all she’s cracked up to be.

D: Whatever romantic encounters you might have in series two, please tell me they don’t involve Detective Constable Albert Flight – Molony this and Molony that is all I’ve heard for the past few weeks – what’s that Damien got that this Damian hasn’t?

C: Haha…oh have you not heard Rose and Flight are making a spin off?! Our DamIEN has so much. Where does one start? Great jumpers! He has great jumpers. Oh and buckets of talent, humour, grace, charm he was a pleasure to be around and work with everyday. We laughed a lot.

D: Everyone has such lovely things to say about you whenever I mention your name. Mark Dexter couldn’t sing your praises high enough and I did an interview with MyAnna Buring recently in which we spoke of your wonderful chemistry together, is it a sisterly or motherly bond between Rose/Susan and perhaps even Charlene/MyAnna?

C: I pay a lot of people a lot of money for all those nice things to be said. Mark was a joy to work with and that meant a lot considering the content of what we were filming. MyAnna and I are tight as nun’s knickers (is it ok to use that expression?). Rose/Long Susan I would say motherly, MyAnna and me? Definitely sisterly. We snot and sing and laugh all over each other.

MyAnna & Charlene/Long Susan & Rose

MyAnna & Charlene/Long Susan & Rose

D: You are currently appearing at the Almeida Theatre [this ended last November] in a production of Ghosts – is this in the Demi Moore or Whoopi Goldberg role?

C: Who do you think?? Goldberg!

D: You might be too young to remember this but Robson & Jerome did a cracking cover of Unchained Melody – whatever happened to those guys?

C: Of course I remember. Not to mention Saturday Night at the Movies, nice quiff Jerome!! I don’t know, they were clearly bursting with talent, though I’m glad it’s over so we can have Jerome on Ripper with us.

D: Seriously now, your production of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts has received great reviews so many congratulations indeed. It’s been adapted and directed by Richard Eyre, was it slightly daunting working with someone who has had such a significant impact on the world of theatre, opera, film and television – not to mention the fact that he was Director of the National Theatre for many years and even Knighted for his services to the arts?

C: Thank you. It’s been amazing. Yeah you could say that. I was sent to his house and told I would be allowed to read the scene once. The end. Uhhh ok… so I did, then he asked me to read it all (the play), he told me to “busk it”, so I did, and I was offered the part within the hour. Gulp!

D: Having said that, you’re no stranger to critical acclaim yourself – where do you keep your awards including the IFTA for best actress?

C: They are all tucked in safely at home with my mammy and daddy.

Charlene and her IFTA Television Award

D: You play Regina Engstrand in Ghosts who is a character wanting desperately to escape from the lower classes and isn’t afraid to use sex in her pursuit of upward mobility – echoes of Rose perhaps?

C: In some ways, yes, they are two women trapped by their circumstances and wanting out. But Regina doesn’t actually use sex just her appeal, she is a lot more innocent than Rose. Rose is more street and been exposed to much more harsh realities. Regina is an opportunistic girl alright but she’s a virgin and has grew up on a very remote island. The two girls do share some similarities but I see them as very different.

D: What will you be up to when Ghosts ends at the end of this month?

C: We are going into the West-end I believe. Life does indeed imitate art!

D: I’ve previously got myself into a spot of bother for choosing favourites amongst the ladies at Tenter Street so I won’t make the same mistake again although there can be little harm in concluding with a quote from one of my very favourite episodes, “Nothing’s more lovely than a Rose”. Thank you Charlene – Adieu!

C: ‘Til you get pricked by the thorns…. Thank you so much for talking to me.


All images from 'Ghosts' are copyright of Hugo Glendinning

All images from ‘Ghosts’ are copyright of Hugo Glendinning

Charlene as Regina Engstrand and Leslie Manville as Helene Alving

Charlene as Regina Engstrand and Leslie Manville as Helene Alving

Charlene with Brian McCardie as Jacob Engstrand

Charlene with Brian McCardie as Jacob Engstrand

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