Jennifer Saunders: 'I was terrified filming The Stranger!'

Jennifer Saunders The Stranger
Jennifer Saunders The Stranger

Jennifer Saunders on showing off her dramatic chops in Netflix’s twisty thriller The Stranger

Jennifer Saunders has admitted that she was scared about stepping out of her comfort zone and tackling her first major dramatic role in Netflix’s thriller The Stranger.

“Comedy is what I do naturally but this is quite different. It’s terrifying!” she told us. “But I was thrilled to be asked. Thankfully no one on set shouted, ‘What are you doing here spoiling a drama?!’ Once you’ve done the first take, you think, ‘This is like normal filming, it’s fine.’ You just don’t have to go for laughs. I’d love to do more.”

MORE: Saunders: 'My daughter got me obsessed with the Moomins!'

The Absolutely Fabulous star plays cafe owner Heidi Doyle, who is left reeling as she becomes one of the targets of a mysterious stranger (Hannah John-Kamen) who delivers bombshell revelations to people about their loved ones.

Jennifer Saunders as Heidi and Callie Cooke as her daughter Kimberley in The Stranger

Jennifer Saunders as Heidi and Callie Cooke as her daughter Kimberley in The Stranger

“Heidi has a lovely life, her daughter Kimberley is at uni, and she’s planning a trip away. But the information the stranger gives her throws her off kilter. Her world collapses,” said Jennifer. “There’s collateral damage and so many twists - it's exciting!”

For Jennifer, one of the highlights of the filming The Stranger, which also stars Richard Armitage and Dervla Kirwan, was getting to work with Siobhan Finneran, who plays DS Johanna Griffin, Heidi’s best friend.

“She’s my favourite actress. I love her in everything she’s done. So I could barely breathe,” she said. “I had to sit down and recover!”

All episodes of The Stranger air on Netflix from Thursday 30 January.

Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.