Ashley Jensen on playing the glamorous super-sleuth in killer heels as the popular Sky One crime drama Agatha Raisin returns…
It’s a gloriously hot, sunny day when TV Times arrive in the picturesque village of Biddestone, where the second series of Sky One’s comedy crime drama Agatha Raisin is being filmed.
Following a successful first series in 2014, Ashley Jensen returns as the PR-guru-turned-amateur-sleuth investigating crime in the Cotswolds in three new 90-minute mysteries. Back alongside her are Mathew Horne (Gavin & Stacey) as Agatha’s trusted aide Roy Silver, Emmerdale’s Jason Merrells as her close friend Lord Charles Fraith and Waterloo Road’s Jamie Glover as Agatha’s former fiancé James Lacey, who jilted her at the altar at the end of series one.
As we survey the lush green fields, we see the Scottish actress heading towards us, dressed in character as Agatha in a bright green floral jumpsuit and, of course, a pair of killer heels.
As we chat to Ugly Betty and Afterlife star Ashley Jensen, 49, it’s obvious she’s grown rather attached to them…
How do you walk in those shoes? They’re very high…
Ashley Jensen: "I know! I do insist on doing all my stunts as Agatha in four-inch stilettos. The crew keep saying: ‘Why don’t you just take your heels off?’ And I’m like: ‘No, I WILL scale that wall in these heels!’ I think I get a slight kick out of it."
You have to do a lot of stunts as Agatha. Do you relish those moments?
AJ: "I love it, yeah. I grew up watching 1970s sitcom Some Mother’s Do ’Ave ’Em’s Frank Spencer [played by Michael Crawford], who was all about physical comedy. He did all his own stunts, so for me to get to do more of that and play stuntwoman is a dream come true."
Do you think that’s what people love about this show?
AJ: "What sets this show apart from other crime dramas is that it goes from really bold physical comedy to drama to heart-wrenching moments where Agatha’s talking to someone about a loved one who’s been murdered. I think there’s a place for everything and there’s been a lot of drama recently that’s influenced by 'Scandi noir' – I call this show 'Cotswold Technicolor'!"
What can you tell us about the first mystery, The Wizard of Evesham?
AJ: "It’s centred on a hair salon and a hairdresser called Jonny Shawpart, played by James Lance, who comes to the village and woos all the ladies. He’s a charming lothario, who makes a play for Agatha and she’s quite flattered. Agatha’s smitten with his big melty eyes and his wonderful, charming personality and, of course, his amazing hair! However, Agatha soon realises Jonny may not be all he seems and her crime-solving cogs are set in motion…"
Do we see you with lots of different hairstyles?
AJ: "Yes! It’s been quite a challenge for our wonderful hair and make-up team because I’ve had hair with roots showing, wet hair, bad hair, plaited hair and everything in between. In one scene, my hair looks like a mess of frizzy candyfloss!"
What do you enjoy most about playing Agatha?
AJ: "Agatha is a modern woman. She’s not afraid to say what she feels and sometimes can be a little blunt. She’s confident, intelligent, articulate, witty… and she’s not 25!"
Do you think we’re now seeing more roles for older women on TV?
AJ: "Yes, I do think times are changing a little bit in that there are women in their Forties, who are fronting TV dramas. I look around on TV now and you’ve got Suranne Jones, Sarah Lancashire, Olivia Colman – to name just a few – all women of a certain age, who are standing up and being counted."
There’s a lot of doom and gloom in the world at the moment. Do you think a show like Agatha Raisin offers the perfect antidote?
AJ: "I do. The world is an unsure place at the minute, both socially and politically, and this show offers pure escapism. When Ugly Betty aired in 2006, I really felt it had come along at the right time and I think this is the right time for people to embrace all of the colour, the joy, the campness and the fun of Agatha Raisin."
Agatha Raisin returns on Friday July 12 at 9pm on Sky One.
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