Catherine Tyldesley on filming McDonald & Dodds — 'I found out I was pregnant just before my costume fitting!'

Catherine Tyldesley guest stars as Kate Porter in McDonald & Dodds.
Catherine Tyldesley guest stars as Kate Porter in McDonald & Dodds. (Image credit: ITV)

Catherine Tyldesley is back on ITV on Sunday June 19, 8pm, as crime drama McDonald & Dodds returns for series 3 and she recently told us all about the experience, including filming her guest star spot wile pregnant. Her baby daughter Iris was born the following spring, in April 2022.

The Bath-set crime drama has always attracted a high calibre of guest stars and this week’s contingent of ex-Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley, comedian and actor Alan Davies and acting stalwart Dame Siân Phillips is no exception. They all appear in the first episode of the new, third season of the show which sees McDonald and Dodds (played by Tala Gouveia and Jason Watkins) investigate the baffling case of a young woman who dies in a deckchair in the middle of a crowded park, with a strange smile on her face. Their investigation leads them to a sprawling mansion called Belvedere, the home of eccentric and cantankerous Agnes Gillan (Siân Phillips), who is days away from her 100th birthday, and her son George (Alan Davies), a linguistic anthropology professor. 

Catherine Tyldesley plays single mum Kate Porter, a newcomer to the area who clearly has a few secrets to hide. Here she tells us all about her guest role in McDonald & Dodds on Sunday…

Alan Davies with Catherine Tyldesley as guest stars in McDonald & Dodds.

Alan Davies with Catherine Tyldesley as guest stars in McDonald & Dodds. (Image credit: ITV)

Catherine Tyldesley interview on guest starring in McDonald & Dodds

Was it challenging to be pregnant while filming? 
Catherine Tyldesley says: "Oh yes. They were wonderful with me because I was so sickly at that time. There were a good few moments when I was retching in front of Alan Davies and it could have gone either way. But he was so lovely and patient with me. Everyone was. There was always someone on hand with a ginger biscuit and a bottle of Lucozade. I found out I was pregnant about three or four days before my costume fitting and so the costume department were incredibly patient too. My outfits switched from skinny jeans switched to floaty dresses. It wasn’t funny at the time but me running off to be sick in the odd bin here and there was quite comical. And my cravings were insane! I’d turn to Alan and say ‘oh my god, I need mushy peas right now’. Or ‘I must have a Calippo this instant’. I can laugh about it now."

What attracted you to the part of Kate Porter? 
Catherine says: "If something is very much character led, especially with a crime drama, and if you can’t suss things out right until the last minute, I’m in. The writing for McDonald and Dodds is consistently brilliant. I was so intrigued from the moment the character started to open up. I couldn’t quite suss her out which appeals to me. In many ways she’s quite far away from my own personality and the further away I am from myself when I’m playing a character, the more I relish the role. Also the cast is always brilliant in McDonald and Dodds and when they told me they had Sian Phillips and Alan Davies I thought, ‘brilliant, but I need to up my game’. All those things pulled me in."

What can you tell us about Kate? 
Catherine says: "She is quite complex. She’s striving on a daily basis to move away from what I would describe as a hard past. She’s had a tough upbringing and she’s changed her life in a 360-degree manner. At the heart of everything she’s doing she’s trying to protect her daughter and be a good mum. But she is a very good actress and there are a lot of things in her life she doesn’t want to resurface."

Did you enjoy working with Jason Watkins and Tala Gouveia? 
Catherine says "I’ve worked with Jason before, on Trollied, so it was lovely to work with him again. It was the first time working with Tala and they are both just absolutely brilliant. They are so much fun to work with and really welcoming. As a guest coming onto a well-established show you do get a little bit nervous but the cast were great. It was like I’d always been there. We all got on like a house on fire and they are two actors I think are brilliant and have the utmost respect for. It was a real treat. 

Were you a fan of McDonald & Dodds before you joined as a guest star? 
Catherine says "Yes. I think they’ve got the right level between light and shade. They tackle serious issues, and the suspense and the thriller aspect of it is all still there, but they’ve got that comedy aspect as well which people love. It makes it perfect viewing."

What did you like about working with Alan Davies and Siân Phillips? 
Catherine says "I’ve always been a fan of Sian Phillips and Alan as well, especially in terms of his comedy. It was really fab to see Alan tackle a serious role. I know he’s done it before but to work alongside him whilst he’s doing it yet to have such a ball with him off set as well, because he’s such a funny guy, was just a great treat. It’s the same with Siân. Her CV is insane. Obviously, she’s an incredible actress but she’s loads of fun as well. I was quite intimidated when I heard Siân had got that role because she’s acting royalty but it’s like watching a masterclass. She’s fantastic and they were both super easy to work with. We had a great time on and off set."

Are you a fan of the crime genre?
Catherine says "Oh we love a good crime thriller in our house. You like to think you’re a little bit of a detective. The good thing with McDonald and Dodds is when I first read the script I was convinced I knew what was going on, with my little detective’s hat on, but the twists and turns that they have - that age-old Agatha Christie recipe - is brilliant and it leaves you guessing right until the end."

Do you normally guess a whodunnit? 
Catherine says "I’m a bit hit and miss to be honest but I think that’s great. It’s testament to the writer isn’t it? It’s very much the case with McDonald and Dodds. It kept me hooked. It was compelling until the end."

Did you enjoy working in Bath? 
Catherine says "I fell in love with it. We’ve been up there for two holidays since. I think it’s so beautiful. Driving through it I was on Rightmove going ‘oh my god, it’s gorgeous. I want to live here’. And Bristol as well. It’s my first time in Bristol and I loved it."

Your role involves accents...did you enjoy that? 
Catherine says "I loved it. I’m a big fan of accent work. Again the further away I am from myself the more I enjoy it. I love a challenge and they had a fantastic dialect coach on the show as well, to give us a helping hand should we need it."

Would you like to take a detective role and who would be your ideal co-star?  
Catherine says "I’d love to. It’s on my to-do list for sure. I’d really relish that. I think there are some amazing actresses out there at the moment. If Suranne Jones is in it anything, I’m there. Sheridan Smith too. I’m a big fan. If it was a guy, then Idris Elba. Can you imagine? That would be fabulous."

Do you have any exciting projects coming up? 
Catherine says "Not that I can talk about. My agent will string me up because I’m known for saying too much on jobs. But it’s looking like a busy year ahead which I’m extremely grateful for."

* Catherine Tyldesley can be seen in episode one of McDonald & Dodds series 3 on Sunday June 19, ITV, at 8pm.

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.