Michelle Keegan: 'I'd never seen a real gun before Our Girl... it was intimidating!'
Catch up with former Coronation Street star Michelle Keegan, who swaps the Corrie cobbles for combat missions when she joins the new series of BBC1's Our Girl playing army medic Georgie Lane…
What’s on TV spoke to Michelle Keegan, who played Tina McIntyre in Corrie for six years, who told us how she got on with soldier training at bootcamp, firing AK-47s and all the blood and guts her Our Girl character Georgie comes across…
From Coronation Street to the army – it’s quite a change, isn't it? "I've never done anything so 'actiony' in my life but it's such a cool role. Georgie's very good at her job, very professional and she knows what she wants in life. She's not afraid to get stuck in, especially with the lads!"
Can you tell us about Georgie's wedding at the start of this series? "Georgie's very much in love with her intended. She's organised a lovely big wedding, with a big dress, and all her family are there. Something unexpected happens, however. Then you fast forward two years to when she’s offered a mission in Kenya."
Does Georgie see a lot of action? "Oh yeah we did lots of stunts. I did a few of my own which I really enjoyed. I went up in a helicopter, got flung into cars - it was very physical. I bruise like a peach anyway, but I was literally bruised everywhere, it was ridiculous."
You had to train at boot camp. How was that? "It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Obviously, with the army, I thought we'd be running for miles and if I said anything wrong, I’d have to do press ups, which actually happened a few times! But it was great fun and a great bonding exercise for all the cast before we went out to South Africa to film."
Are you any good at press-ups? "I am, because I used to do girlie ones on my knees! But I can actually do proper press ups now so I was well chuffed with that."
How did you get on handling weapons? "They're so heavy! I didn't even know how to hold a gun when I started. We went to a shooting range in South Africa and I had an AK-47! It's so powerful, it nearly knocked my shoulder out of joint! I'd never seen a real gun in my life before doing Our Girl - it was intimidating."
Did you watch EastEnders star Lacey Turner in the last series of Our Girl? "Yeah I had. I've never met Lacey but I was always a massive fan of hers. She's an amazing actress and I did watch the series and I loved it. My dad's a huge fan too."
Lacey’s character Molly Dawes and Georgie are friends aren't they? "Yes. I think everyone presumed I was playing Lacey’s character and people were confused. We do make reference to Molly in the show. Obviously Captain James is married to Molly now, but Georgie and her are friends."
If you haven't watched Our Girl before, does it matter? "It's a total fresh story. Even though Captain James and a few of the lads from the first series feature, it's got a really brand new feel to the show. The storyline's totally different but it also gives a nod to the first series, which is nice."
As Georgie is an army medic, did you have to learn how to use syringes and see a lot of blood? "All the medical stuff was difficult at first but you get used to it. I had someone on set the whole time, showing me how to hold a hand to get a pulse or take blood and tie a tourniquet. There was a lot of blood and guts!"
Did you have a great time filming in South Africa? " I loved it. I'm quite a home bod. I like my home comforts and being around my family and friends, so I thought I was going to get really homesick. But I was working six days a week as I was in nearly every scene. I had no time to miss home and I absolutely loved every single minute of it."
Was it hard to leave Coronation Street? "When I left Corrie it was so daunting and I didn't know when my next job was going to come along. So to get a role like this for the BBC, I'm still pinching myself. I do feel very lucky."
* Our Girl Series 3 premieres on BBC1, Wednesday September 7 at 9pm
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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 Whattowatch.com. 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.