First responder: “Blackpool” actress, Sarah Parish!

Part of our planned travel-blog trip to the UK next summer is to interview as many of my favorite actors from BBC America as I can. British television is so different from TV in the US (it’s not all just Doctor Who over there!), and I look forward to helping to introduce sarah parishthe American audience to some of these people. As the BBC series Blackpool is the original impetus for our trip, I started first by contacting those actors. And Sarah Parish, the actress who artfully played the female lead, Natalie Holden, has said yes!

Readers in the States may not know who she is. I didn’t, until I saw Blackpool. But she’s been a working actress for about twenty years, and played Hannah in the Cameron Diaz/Jude Law/Kate Winslett film The Holiday. She also played alongside Kevin Costner in the Golden Globe winning mini-series, Hatfields & McCoys.

Doctor Who fans will know Ms. Parish as the Empress of the Racnoss (in Donna Noble’s first episode, The Runaway Bride). I had no racnoss toy2idea they were the same actress until I looked her up on imdb.com and saw that role listed among her extensive acting credits. But better yet, she even has an action figure! Now that is impressive. 😉

Because a lot of British programming isn’t available in the US, it’s difficult to find video of many of her roles, except on YouTube. But what I’ve seen shows exceptional acting ability, and I’m really impressed with the way she throws herself into whatever role she’s playing, even if it’s a spider queen, a troll (as Lady Catrina on Merlin) or the queen of Atlantis.

Sarah Parish with her two love interests in Blackpool, David Morrissey and David Tennant

Sarah Parish with her two love interests in Blackpool, David Morrissey and David Tennant

Atlantis premieres on BBC America on November 23, right after the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor. I’ll be watching both!

I’ll keep you posted as any other British thespians agree to meet with me. I’m thrilled to be able to say that my first to say yes is one that I respect so highly.

Plus, who wouldn’t want to talk to a woman who got to make out with David Morrissey AND David Tennant, even if it was just on film! Even at my age, I can’t help squeeing with envy, like a fangirl.

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11 responses to “First responder: “Blackpool” actress, Sarah Parish!

  1. Michael Garfield

    Hello Lisa.
    Atlantis is shown over here on a Saturday night. Last night’s episode was (if I recall correctly) episode 4. Sarah Parish doesn’t have what I would call an extensive role. She plays the somewhat unpleasant Queen. Her first TV role was in the medical drama ‘Peak Practice’, set in the beautiful Derbyshire Peak District. It ran for quite few series, and I remember watching Sarah Parish in it. Here she is in Peak Practice. Good luck with the interview!

  2. Michael Garfield

    Oops, forgot to mention the new drama that David Tennant is appearing in at the moment. I watched the first episode last week. Looks good.
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-previews/escape-artist-starring-david-tennant-2650369

  3. Thanks, Mike! Your feedback is always helpful. I don’t think Escape Artist is even on the BBC America schedule yet. We didn’t see Broadchurch until months after it aired there.

    Their programming definitely differs from yours, and they air far fewer shows than you get to see. They also cut out huge chunks of the original shows, to allow for more advertising. In fact, each episode of Blackpool that aired here was cut by about 10 minutes. If I hadn’t watched it on YouTube, I would have missed a lot of important plot points and a few of my favorite songs.

    It’s hard to explain why I’m so taken with British television these days. When I was growing up, I saw Monty Python and other various things that were released in America, and I really enjoyed them and the British sensibilities. But I’m noticing, now that I’m watching BBCA, that there seems to be a greater depth of humanity, in both the writing and the acting. And, while many actors there are very attractive, they don’t dominate the casting like they do here. Here, it’s all about being young, gorgeous and–frankly–kind of slutty. There, it seems that the number of uber attractive vs. average looking actors is more in line with real life.

    I’m almost dismayed that Doctor Who is becoming so Americanized. I understand that they must be thrilled to be gaining such a large, global audience, but I like it because it isn’t American. Alas! :-O

    • Michael Garfield

      Hello Lisa.
      I think they Americanise (notice that we don’t use the ‘z’) our programming because they have an eye on the American market. One reason for this maybe be because America has a tendency to remake our TV shows to appeal to American sensibilities. Trouble is, it rarely works – Blackpool being a case in point. I think you have to watch the original, with all its cultural references, etc. These sorts of things are lost in translation in remakes, so what made the original great isn’t apparent in the remake. I’ve never felt the need for American films or TV shows to be remade for my enjoyment. Without sounding patronising, I think we understand American cultural references a lot better than Americans understand ours – no doubt due to the fact that we are exposed a lot more to American TV & films. I’ve always wondered why Star Trek has never had an English character as one of its main characters. The most obvious one is Captain Jean Luc Picard, played by Patrick Stewart. If it wasn’t for the characters name you’d think he was supposed to be English. It seems that American programme-makers think that American audiences wouldn’t accept an Englishman at the helm of such an iconic American sci-fi series, so they made him French. After all, why hire an English actor only to have him play a Frenchman, who comes across as English anyway?

      I’ve always disliked the Anglophobic tendency of the American TV and film industry. English characters seem to be there in order to be baddies or to have fun poked at them. I could name numerous films with these themes running though them. To cite one particularly dire example, ‘Three Man and a Little Lady’. Of course, this has them travelling to England, which they proclaim to hate. Once there, they proceed to teach an English toff a lesson, while treating other English characters as though they were mentally retarded. The sad thing about all this – and I don’t mean to generalise or sound condescending – is that some Americans (I emphasis some) believe these types of film actually paint a true picture of England and the English. I’ve seen American TV shows where an English character has been made fun of, or a crack has been made about England (or the U.K. in general) and the audience start whooping and cheering because of it. I find it rather sad that there are some that believe in the rubbish they are fed by Hollywood, which is at complete odds with who we are and what we’re like. Sad, because we were there at the very beginning of the American nation. It’s just a pity that some Americans can think no further back than 1776, or any further forward than ‘when we won the war for you’ – another oft-quoted diatribe aimed our way. Funnily enough, history records it as an allied victory. Sorry if this is starting to sound like a rant or anti-American, which it certainly isn’t. I just wish people knew us better, rather than believe the rubbish Hollywood (or Mel Gibson) feeds them. Thankfully not everyone is taken in by it. I can assure them that 99.9% of us don’t talk or act like Hugh Grant, or live in sprawling country estates and mansions – no more than Americans would live in something akin to the White House.

      Anyway, back to the TV shows! Did you know there is to be a second series of Broadchurch? It was announced at the end of the first series over here. It seems that the writer of Broadchurch would like to see an American remake – this, after he had made such a big thing about wanting to set something in place in which he lives. No doubt he sees dollar signs.

  4. Interesting! I think that many American TV shows and movies use a British accented actor for any character from a European country, even if that character is supposed to be German or French because it sounds “off” enough for the audience to know, “He ain’t from around here,” but still be able to understand what they’re saying. Plus, it’s a lot easier to fake a passable British accent.

    I think, also, that due to the limited American media that you see, just like I’m limited in what I see from over there, that you have a distorted view of how Americans see Brits. Anyone over here with a British accent is an automatic celebrity. Americans LOVE a British accent, and can barely tell the difference between the various areas of the country. In fact, during the first new series of Doctor Who, with Christopher Eccleston, much was said about him sounding like he’s from the north. I had no idea what that even meant, and couldn’t really detect a difference. But now that I’ve become so fascinated with the UK and done some research, I can totally tell the difference now.

    I love what you said, most of all, because that’s the exact reason we’re planning this trip. I want to see how much of what we see on TV is real and what has been exaggerated. I’m fascinated to discover everything I can about your country, due to the way you’re portrayed in the media. So I guess it can’t be all bad, eh?

  5. Sarah Parish was also in “Mistresses”, the British version, of course. 🙂 I think she has quite a range, to play a sheepish doctor in Mistresses, the Troll on Merlin, and the Spider (woman? Queen?) in Doctor Who. I couldn’t believe she was the same person in all three roles at the time. Looking forward to seeing her in Atlantis.

    • I agree, Belle. From what I have seen, she has taken on a wide variety of costumed rolls that, to me, show a lot of courage. I wish I could find the exact Carol Burnett quote on this topic, but I remember years ago she said something like, “If you’re going to be an actress, you can’t be afraid of looking ugly.”

  6. I enjoyed Blackpool quite a bit when it was on over here a few years back. I remember they attempted a US remake that was pretty rough and got cancelled fairly early.

  7. She was also in the somewhat Games-of-Thrones-ish ‘Pillars of the Earth’, again, not afraid to play ugly. Worth watching if you like a bit of a period epic. I think she’d make a great Doctor Who if they ever get around to casting a woman.

  8. I haven’t seen that! I’ll watch for it. I saw her recently in The Wedding Date and she stole every scene she was in. There aren’t many actors that I’ve noticed who are as versatile as she.

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