Martine McCutcheon: ‘Hugh Grant dreaded dancing again for Red Nose Day Actually!’

Red Nose Day Actually
(Image credit: Nick Briggs)

Martine McCutcheon spills the beans on reuniting with Love Actually co-star Hugh Grant for a special sketch for Red Nose Day

It’s 14 years since classic rom-com Love Actually had us all weeping and laughing into our popcorn. Now its stars are reuniting for Red Nose Day Actually, a special Comic Relief sequel airing as part of BBC1's Red Nose Day extravaganza. TV Times caught up with former EastEnders actress Martine McCutcheon, who is reprising her role as former tealady Natalie, to find out more about her reunion with co-star Hugh Grant…

The new sketch sounds really exciting, what can you tell us about it? “It's revisiting all the characters that you loved from Love Actually and seeing where they are now all these years later. There is such a lot of goodwill for this because it's  for Comic Relief. The whole atmosphere has just been electrifyingly gorgeous, I didn’t realise how much I had missed it. I really loved Natalie as a character and the way she treated everybody the same including David the Prime Minister [Hugh Grant]. She was just so refreshingly honest, cute and quirky and the public seemed to really love her and her and David together.”

Where do we find them? “David and Natalie are married and he is now back as the Prime Minister at Downing Street and we see him at another press conference giving a speech about things that are happening today and that links in with Comic Relief and the good that we can do and the obstacles we are fighting. And Natalie is still there laughing and taking the mickey out of him. I really wanted them to have a happy-ever-after and have the modern-day fairytale and I was so pleased that they do.”

Was it good to work with Hugh again? “I was really excited to work with Hugh again because we have become friends. We've stayed in touch and over the years he's given me advice and we text eachother a lot, which is lovely. He is my partner in crime and it wouldn’t have been right for me to do this without him. We have each others' backs and we are just right together in this.”

He famously danced in the original Love Actually, does he do more dancing in the sketch? “Yes and he was dreading it! But what is so lovely is that he is so good but he always gets so nervous about everything because he wants it to be perfect. He knows that people deserve his best.”

Did you manage to catch up with any of the other Love Actually cast when you filmed the new sketch? “Not on set but the writer Richard Curtis threw us a ‘Supper Actually’ dinner party and most of us were there, it was lovely. I saw Colin Firth, Bill Nighy and loads of the gang and it was really an amazing, quite emotional dinner.”

Love Actually

Why is Love Actually still so special? “It has just got bigger and bigger and over the years has become a modern day It’s A Wonderful Life, which none of us really expected at the time. We thought it was just going to be a lovely movie that people needed after 9/11 and the horrible things that were going on in the world. We never thought that all these years later it would  become a Christmas tradition. It was so special to me personally too, I still pinch myself because I was so lucky to be in it. Even when I was focussing on babies and getting my health back on track, because of that one movie, offers were still coming in and I will always be grateful for that.”

Is it lovely to be part of Red Nose Day too? “Oh they are such special people and it does so much good. The people behind the scenes work relentlessly to give the best they can to the people that need it. I remember watching it as a kid and one of my favourite highlights was when Dawn French kissed Hugh, that was brilliant!”

What is next for you? “I have got my album coming out this year, my return to music after a decade away, which I am so excited about and I have concerts coming up. The album is a bit Fleetwood Mac-y, it is a bit classic singer-songwriter like Adele, although I can’t compare to her because she is just a genius, but it is those great classic songs and grown up rock pop music for adults. I am carrying on as a Loose Women panellist too and my most treasured job is being a mummy to Rafferty who is two now. I have also got a film out with Alan Davies called The Bromley Boys. It is nice to get back to being all of me again rather than just one part of me and I have missed that.”

Do you ever watch EastEnders? “No, because I don’t know anyone in it any more! I am like , "Who are you?" It would be like a busman’s holiday because I can’t ever watch it without knowing what goes on behind the scenes. The other soaps I can watch and not get too involved but when you are filming there, they are such long days and then when you are away you are like, ‘Yay I’m free!’”

Red Nose Day Actually will air on BBC1 as part of Red Nose Day on Friday 24th March

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.