Tag Archives: Gillian Saker

Exclusive ENDEAVOUR interview with Gillian Saker


Interview copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2017

Gillian Saker – Dr. Patricia Amory

An exclusive ENDEAVOUR interview

by Damian Michael Barcroft

DAMIAN: Hello Gillian, it’s lovely to catch up with you again. It’s been a few years now since our RIPPER STREET interview, what have you been up to since?

GILLIAN: I really can’t believe it’s been so long! Goodness, quite a bit has gone on since then. More of the same really; more TV, a lot more stage work. And a lot of singing too. I hope I’ve come on somewhat since RIPPER STREET which was my first ever job and a wonderful place to learn the ropes. I’ve got a long way to go, mind! I’ve got a lot to learn still.

DAMIAN: [RIPPER STREET SERIES 2 SPOILER ALERT!] You were obviously thrilled to be asked back for the second series of RIPPER STREET but then they killed your character off, did you know Bella’s fate as you signed up to return or was it something of a unpleasant surprise?

GILLIAN: I was really surprised to be asked back. As far as I knew, I was only signed up for a guest role, so it was really wonderful that the writers decided to extend my character’s storyline. I knew that something was going to happen to Bella. That was part of the deal when I signed on. But I didn’t know what it would be or when. I think I found out while we were shooting the previous episode. So a bit of a surprise! That said, it was a pretty cool way to leave and Toby Finlay is a brilliant writer so I was glad to leave in one of his episodes.

DAMIAN: Curiously, when I asked you about your research for RIPPER STREET and the episode A STRONGER LOVING WORLD in particular which featured spiritualism and the occult, you told me that you read all about the friendship between Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini. A couple of years later and you’re appearing in the HOUDINI & DOYLE TV series – how strange is that?

GILLIAN: I know! How strange is that?! It was fate. I actually worked with another ENDEAVOUR director on that – Ed Bazalgette. Maybe you’re my lucky charm. I should talk ideas with you more often.

DAMIAN: I am your lucky charm and absolutely anytime. So, continuing the trend for appearing in TV shows that I like, tonight you’ll be appearing in ENDEAVOUR. How did you come to be involved?

GILLIAN: The usual way. I’d met the Mammoth Screen team for a couple of other projects. I came in and auditioned for Ashley Pearce (director) and Helen Ziegler (producer). I’ve been a fan of ENDEAVOUR since I saw the first film while I was still at drama school. And I think Shaun Evans is brilliant, so when I was offered a role I jumped at the chance.

DAMIAN: What can you tell us about tonight’s episode GAME?

GILLIAN: I don’t want to give away too much. It’s about a bunch of academics who are in the process of creating a chess-playing machine, and in the lead up to the machine’s important debut tournament with a Russian chess pro one of the team goes missing.

DAMIAN: And something about the character that you play, Dr. Patricia Amory?

GILLIAN: I play one of the academics. My father is a pioneer in the industry and I’m trying to find my place as a young female academic in a male dominated world. The loss of Richard hits her really hard. It was a really fun role to play, in part because the team was so great. The other actors were all fantastic, and I’m sure as many of the ENDEAVOUR cast and crew say, the atmosphere on set is brilliant, and I’m still friends with a fair few of the company. Plus James Laurenson, who played my father, is so experienced. It was wonderful to watch him work.

DAMIAN: Gillian, it’s an absolute pleasure as always – thank you very much indeed.

GILLIAN: And you! I wonder when we shall cross paths again. Happy New Year!

Interview copyright © Damian Michael Barcroft 2017
All the interviews and articles on this website are original and exclusive and I would please ask that the copyright be respected. Therefore, please do not use quotes or any other information contained here without permission. Thank you.

Exclusive interview with Gillian Saker previewing tonight’s RIPPER STREET




MAR 30 – 12:45AM – BBC AMERICA

Exclusive interview by Damian Michael Barcroft

“It would be a stronger world, a stronger loving world, to die in.”
– John Cale, Sanities
“One’s past is what one is. It is the only way by which people should be judged.”
– Oscar Wilde
“Time’s fun when you’re having flies.”
– Kermit the Frog
I’m sitting in the bar of the Benny Vandergast Memorial Theatre enjoying drinks with Gillian Saker. I’d originally wanted an interview with that chick from The X – Files but I pretend like I’m thrilled to see her anyway and just hope she doesn’t notice my “The Truth Is Out There” pin badge on my lapel. I make a mental note to sack my PA first thing in the morning and trust that she, and indeed her three fatherless children, will have a suitably Dickensian Christmas.
I’m tempted to try and impress Miss Saker with some further quotes that display my wealth of cultural knowledge and literary insight but I just subtly mention that my past is a mist. Nothing – not even a sympathetic smile. Instead, Gillian’s attention seems to be elsewhere and she appears more interested in the bearded skinny dude who is lurking in the distance. He’s wearing a fedora and has the general look of one of those pimps you see in a bad seventies movie that get beat up in the opening scene by Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson. I give him the evil eye and he just stares back – if cunning references to Pinter won’t impress Gillian Saker, I really need to up my game – these questions better be good. No pressure…

Damian: You were spotted by an agent for a part in the first series of Ripper Street while you were performing as Portia in a college production of The Merchant of Venice and here we are today, discussing tonight’s episode which also features themes of racial intolerance and anti-semitism. I was wondering what was your take on Shakespeare’s play, a racist comedy or a comedy about racism?

Gillian: Ah, racism… that hilarious ol’ Shakespearean topic. I absolutely love doing Shakespeare (as far as writers go, I think it’s fair to say he’s alright at that playwriting thing). Unfortunately, it is hard to make anti-semitism funny for a modern audience, which is the problem for any director trying to tackle the play nowadays. That said, we had great fun doing it! I think tonight’s episode is pretty far from comedy, I must say. That Toby Finlay writer fellow is a pretty twisted guy.

Damian: Describe the scene for me, you were studying at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and an agent approaches you – what happened next?

Gillian: I was approached because this new television show called Ripper Street was looking for a 19 year old girl with red curly hair and a London accent! It was all rather lucky, really. I was initially in line to play a different part but then producers changed their minds about what they were looking for, and another actress got the gig. I had forgotten all about it, and was continuing with drama school when I got a call out of the blue telling me that I was offered a different part -Bella. I was overjoyed!

Damian: You’ve had an amazing journey since you graduated in 2012. Tell me what was going on inside your head as you left college and almost immediately got on a plane to Dublin and stepped onto the set of Ripper Street?

Gillian: It was pretty ruddy cool. I graduated early to shoot the first series. It was quite a shock going on set for the first day because it was my first professional job ever, but Jerome was very sweet and supportive. And Stephen Smallwood (our lovely, lovely producer) came in to my trailer to calm me down before shooting. The cast and crew gave me a cheer after I shot my first scene – I couldn’t have asked for a nicer welcome to the industry.

Damian: At what point did you realise that you were going to be in series two – it must have been an enormously pleasant surprise?

Gillian: Lordy, it was an enormous surprise! I had just finished a play (The River at the Royal Court), and was thinking ‘Oh man, what am I going to do now?’ when I got a call from my agent saying that I was being written into the second series. I had no idea what I was actually doing in the show until a couple of weeks before filming – I was half expecting to be murdered horrifically in the first scene or such like (it is Ripper Street afterall). I feel very fortunate to have been asked back.

Damian: Before we discuss tonight’s episode, I just want to talk about some of your other work. Is it true that Andrew Lloyd Webber was your rehearsal pianist?

Gillian: Sounds rather grand when you put it like that! I was working on his newest musical (Stephen Ward) and he played the piano in our rehearsals. You know Lloyd Webber – needs the money. It was a surreal experience; I had never done a musical before and there I was singing Lloyd Webber for Lloyd Webber. I was lucky enough to be raised in a family of musicians, but I’d only ever really done soul and jazz, so it was a really enlightening experience. I played Mandy Rice Davies in the Sydmonton Festival production of the show. Sydmonton is a festival in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s [ridiculously amazing] house where he showcases his new work to a glittering crowd of his friends, family and industry people, and we presented the first performances of the show. It was an honour to be a part of it.

Damian: You actually met Mandy Rice Davies – what was she like?

Gillian: I’ve never played a real person before, let alone had them in the audience. Its a lot of pressure. But she was graceful and generous and sweet. I can’t imagine what it’d be like to watch a musical about your sex life… I shudder at the thought…

Damian: Tell us about your part in The River by Jez Butterworth?

Gillian: It was interesting! Consider this your spolier alert if you plan on reading/seeing The River anytime soon. I was a secret character – the audience isn’t made aware in the cast list/ in any reviews and such because my character provides a big twist towards the end of the play. The Royal Court is a dream place to work. Working on new writing is great because you’re in there with the playwright and it can be a really collaborative process. Jez is very open to suggestions, and the director Ian Rickson and the other three actors taught me an awful lot. I’ve been very lucky in my career thus far to consistently work people that are a lot more experienced than me and are at the top of their game – being dropped in at the deep end suits me, I think.

Damian: Jez worked with Harold Pinter on the film Mojo – did he have any stories to tell about the great man?

Gillian: Oh, you’d have to buy me a fair few drinks before I could possibly divulge.

Damian: Apart from Ripper Street, you are perhaps best known for your part in the fourth series of Misfits – do you get much trouble from the geeks recognising you in public?

Gillian: I’m from the area where Misfits is filmed. I think I’m one of their first proper locals. Some reactions have been pretty funny; I was coming home from the gym the other day and some kids started throwing things at me, taking the mickey out of me because I ‘look like the girl from Misfits’. Oh, little did they know! Misfits has such an enormous cult following – I had no idea until the show aired – and it was lovely to be part of something that my friends were all fans of.

Damian: So, Ripper Street: A Stronger Loving World – this is your big episode isn’t it?

Gillian: Yes indeedy. I absolutely loved making it. The director of episodes 5 and 6 Kieron Hawkes is a wonderful director – everyone loved coming to work every day; he has such a positive and enthusiastic energy. And the brilliant Mister Toby Finlay wrote me many a great thing to say. I hope everyone enjoys watching it as much as we did making it. The whole process was a joy.

Damian: The story also features spiritualism and the occult which became increasingly attractive to people during the late Victorian period including celebrities of the day such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Sigmund Freud and W.B. Yeats. Do you think this was due to the advances in scientific understanding such as Darwinism and the decline in traditional religions?

Gillian: Yes, I read some amazing stuff recently about Arthur Conan Doyle and Houdini’s friendship; they had an enormous falling out over Conan Doyle’s belief that one could talk to the dead and the whole spiritualism thing, no? Very interesting! I suppose any ‘answer’ can be appealing, especially when your situation is dire. And if you’ve watched Ripper Street, you can probably guess that for some folks the situation was pretty darn dire.

Damian: I’m from a strict Catholic background (no, I’m fine now Gillian thanks – really!) and forbidden to dabble in such things but have you ever had a play with the old ouija board?

Gillian: Dark magic? Me? No thanks, Barcroft. I’ll leave that to Snape.

Damian: Bella’s past catches up with her in tonight’s episode. We obviously can’t discuss the details without giving away major plot spoilers so I thought we might talk about its writer instead… Look sorry Gillian, I’m not being funny but I don’t feel like I’ve got your full attention. I’d appreciate it if you could at least pretend to be interested and stop looking at the strange bloke in the corner! As I was saying, the writer, Toby Finlay – I bet he’s got a few skeletons in the closet?

Gillian: Oh, gosh, so sorry…. I just- Nevermind. Finlay? Skeletons? Jeepers, are you kidding?! Watch this episode. The man’s a terror, and everything that happens is his fault.

Damian: I’m wondering if Toby’s reckless lifestyle and outrageous taste in clothes is just a desperate cry for help – can’t you find him a nice Jewish girl to settle down with?

Gillian: I think there are some very dark things hiding under that fedora of his. And not just his luscious mane. I’ve got plenty of lovely Jewish friends in my mother’s native New York. Most of them are over 85 though… if that’s his thing…?

Damian: Anyway, Bella, Sergeant Drake is almost old enough to be her granddad, what’s it like kissing a man in his fifties – I bet his whiskers tickle a little?

Gillian: I can’t believe you’ve asked me this! Its more beard than whiskers, actually. All of the ladies that my mum knows from the supermarket are dead jealous. The man’s quite the heart throb, don’t you know?

Damian: Do you like an older man? (BTW, I’m thirty-eight)

Gillian: Oh darling, the older the better. 38 is way too young – come back to me when you’ve matured. Think Carl Fredricksen from Up – that’s the dream.

Damian: Why is Dennis Pennis in the show and why does he look like Rasputin? – maybe he is Rasputin – that would be awesome!

Gillian: Why doesn’t EVERYONE look like Rasputin, frankly? If looking like Rasputin makes you as wonderful as Paul Kaye is, then everyone should start working on their beard. I LOVED working with Paul. He is so generous, and it’s a pleasure to have met him. A very inspiring man.

Damian: I believe you’re rather partial to the muppets – why?

Gillian: It is indeed true, I’m a big fan. My grandpa on my mother’s side worked as a publicist for Jim Henson, so I was raised on the stuff. But all family bias aside, have you watched Sesame Street? Its the best children’s television out there. It is so considered and creative and all-inclusive… Jim Henson’s work was and continues to be a gift to children all over the world. And adults too!

Damian: Yeah, you know sometimes muppets can express a wider range of emotions than some human actors I’ve seen on television recently. Does Damien Molony feature in tonight’s episode?

Gillian: Yes, Damien does feature! He gave me the giggles when we were in scenes together. And yes I agree, Damien is very very good and all, but he’s got nothing on Kermit. Who does?

Damian: I give up! Just go and talk to the freak in the corner, you’ve obviously been staring at each other all night. It’s fine, I’ve got enough stuff for my article…

Gillian: What are you on about? YOU are the one he’s been staring at. I was going to ask… You do you know who that is, right?

Damian: Don’t look, he’s walking over here…

Toby: You. David Barloft.

Damian: It’s Dam-

Toby: Who cares. Put down my actress. I’m drunk and bored and ready for my close-up.

Damian: Yeah, but to be honest mate, the readers are only interested in interviews with the stars of the show – no one really cares about hearing from the writers…

Toby: Plot twist – I scripted every single answer they’ve given you.

Damian: I’m really sorry about this Gillian, do you mind? Thanks so much for the interview it is very much appreciated indeed.

Gillian: Er… Toby…? Master…? I need some help… What do I say now?

I looked at the bloodstained clock and it was almost midnight. I’d already missed the Pale Horse concert and just wanted to go home and yet I felt bad for the guy. So needy and desperate to talk about himself and his “art”…

My exclusive interview with Toby Finlay will be posted later this evening!

My sincere thanks to Gillian Saker and Toby Finlay

~ Damian Michael Barcroft ~

Exclusive interviews with the cast/crew of RIPPER STREET

“Ladies and gentlemen, in the absence of the lecturer with your indulgence I would like to introduce Mr. Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man. Before doing so I ask you please to prepare yourselves – brace yourselves up to witness one who is probably the most remarkable human being ever to draw the breath of life.
Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you please not to despise or condemn this man on account of his unusual appearance. Remember we do not make ourselves, and were you to cut or prick Joseph he would bleed, and that bleed or blood would be red, the same as yours or mine.”
– Tom Norman, Showman and manager of Joseph Merrick

Damian Michael Barcroft presents…


Joseph Drake

I am very proud to announce that acclaimed stage actor and rising TV star Joseph Drake will be the first in a new series of my exclusive interviews to be published in The Whitechapel Society Journal.

Joseph Drake plays Mr. Joseph Carey Merrick – better known to the world as the Elephant Man in the first two episodes of the eagerly awaited return of Ripper Street this Monday night at nine on BBC One.

Fans of the show will also be able to read extracts from more exclusive new interviews plus the chance to read previous articles in full on Monday nights following the broadcast of each and every episode of the second series of Ripper Street.

Additional exclusive Ripper Street cast and crew interviews in the forthcoming issues of The Whitechapel Society will include some of the finest artists working in the British film and television industry…

Jassa Ahluwalia ~ Vincent Featherwell

Jonathan Barnwell ~ PC Dick Hobbs

Leanne Best ~ Jane Cobden

Ed Bruce ~ Visual Effects Supervisor

MyAnna Buring ~ Long Susan

Jamie Crichton ~ Screenwriter

Toby Finlay ~ Screenwriter

Steven Hall ~ Director of Photography

Kunjue Li ~ Blush Pang

Aaron Ly ~ Wong King-Fai

Waldo Mason ~ Prosthetic Make-up Effects

Colm McCarthy ~ Director

Charlene McKenna ~ Rose

Lorna Marie Mugan ~ Costume Designer

Gillian Saker ~ Bella

Dominik Scherrer ~ Composer


Creator/lead writer of RIPPER STREET – Richard Warlow

Plus more to be confirmed!


Absolutely none of these interviews and articles would be possible without the generous help and support of the amazing cast and crew of Ripper Street. I am particularly indebted to Toby Finlay, Richard Warlow and Iain Mccallum at Tiger Aspect Productions. Thank you all so very much indeed! D x


The Whitechapel Society (WS1888) publish London’s premier journal for the study of Jack the Ripper and Victorian/Edwardian social history and culture. WS1888 have also written two books on the Whitechapel Murders, Jack the Ripper: The Suspects and Jack the Ripper: The Terrible Legacy. Please see the link below for more information including membership, subscription and back issues.