Known to millions as scheming Janine Butcher in EastEnders, actress Charlie Brooks is at the centre of some seriously high drama this week, playing a woman scorned, in Channel 5’s compelling new thriller, Lie With Me.
Showing over four nights, Lie With Me tells the story of a British woman, Anna, and her husband, Jake (Neighbours and Station 19 actor Brett Tucker), who relocate from England to his native Australia for a fresh start after infidelity rocks their marriage.
Well, that’s the plan at least, until they hire a young live-in nanny, Becky (Phoebe Roberts), to look after their two small children. Becky and Anna soon form a bond when Anna confides her deepest fears — she thinks Jake’s cheating again. However, Becky isn’t the innocent stranger she appears to be and, what follows, is a tangled web of secrets, lies and betrayal… with deadly consequences.
Charlie, 40, who’ll shortly be back in Walford reprising her role as EastEnders legends Janine, tells us more…
What can we expect from Lie With Me?
"Lie With Me centres on a woman and her husband who move to Australia because their relationship has been turbulent and they’re looking to start again but it’s really a story of betrayal and uncertainty. As soon as the drama begins, we know that somebody dies but we don’t know who, why or how we got to that point. It’s a really sexy thriller - unfortunately, none of the sexy stuff comes from me, ha, ha!"
What more can you tell us about your character, Anna?
"Anna is vulnerable. She’s at a point in her life where she feels lost and has compromised who she is to be with Jake. It’s quite a toxic relationship and Anna’s often felt like she’s losing her mind and is blaming herself for that because the denial from Jake about any sort of infidelity is fierce and the gaslighting of Anna is real. She’s a woman on the edge."
What does this drama say about gaslighting as a form of psychological abuse?
"I’ve been really lucky in my relationships and I haven’t really experienced it that much but my friends have. I think there’s something so wrong about people being made to feel like they’re going mad but, unfortunately, I’d say it happens far too much. Anna’s trying so hard not to be suspicious and to be the wife and mother she wants to be because she feels she’s let everyone down. But when you’ve got someone making you feel like you’re losing your mind, it’s so damaging."
Tell us more about Anna’s relationship with the nanny, Becky, and how that manifests itself…
"Anna hasn’t got any friends, so it’s a relief for her to finally have somebody to talk to and have a friendship with. Without giving too much away, as the story develops, that friendship deepens and Anna recognises how controlling her husband is, not just with her. So she gives Becky a real opportunity - a get-out-of-jail card, basically - and really hopes Becky will take her up on that. However, Becky decides not to… so the consequences are, what they are."
What was it like working in Australia?
"I haven’t spent much time in Australia since doing the jungle [Charlie won the 12th series of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here in 2012]. When you get to have that experience of living and working in a different country, it’s a no-brainer for me really. I was 17 when I went into EastEnders and 23 when I had my daughter [Kiki, now 16], so it’s really nice to get out into the world a little bit and explore. My whole working experience in Australia was brilliant, I’d love to do more."
As Anna, you do a lot of running in this drama. Did you have to get in shape to film those scenes?
"I’m definitely not in the best shape of my life. I run to enjoy my food, and the brunch in Melbourne was amazing! So I sort of ate my way around the city, which was pretty good. I run a bit anyway, which held me in good stead, but I do need to run some more, I’d say. I’ll never run another marathon, though. My hips can’t take it anymore!"
You’re heading back to EastEnders soon. Do people still recognise you as Janine?
"Oh God, SOOO many! People still, 17 years on, shout out: ‘You pushed Barry off the cliff!’ That’s what I get most of the time. Yes… STILL! It’s crazy. Someone gave me a bible once and said: ‘God help you!’ And I had a funny encounter in a taxi office once where the controller said: ‘Don’t take offence but you look like a bit like that bird off EastEnders, except you’re much prettier!’ It’s all good, though, people are generally very nice."
Lie With Me starts on Monday, July 12, airing every night until Thursday, at 9pm on Channel 5.
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