ell us about your character.
Matron is a very complicated person. She’s tired, proper, lazy, uptight, doesn’t care much for children, is scared and a short-tempered oaf. But I love her.
How did you prepare for the role?
I looked at Irish society during Matron’s formative years and learned how she may have come to be who she is. I decided on a backstory that suited and helped me to make her a fully rounded character, and complicated - not a pantomime villain.
Did you try and keep in character the entire time during filming and what happened?
I had decided that I would stay in character. My brother Kirk was one of Fagin’s boys in the film Oliver!, and he told me how Oliver Reed would stay in character and keep the boys on their toes. They were terrified of him. I wanted that for Matron. But the girls were all so lovely and friendly, I lasted about eight minutes.
How does the relationship develop with the girls?
Matron likes the girls more than she thinks she does.
Matron is quite scary, why do you think that is?
Because anyone who is fierce is usually a bit terrified. I think Matron is. Also, Matron has my face. And my face is quite scary.
Does she have any redeeming features?
Tons. Plus she’s really gorgeous looking.
Do we ever see a different side to her?
Yes indeed. Top secret of course, and she would HATE for anyone to see.
Do you share any qualities with matron and if so which?
She’s got my eyes.
What was it like playing such an iconic character?
It was a joy and an utter privilege.
What was it like filming with lots of girls in a school setting?
We laughed all day. Those girls worked so hard and were always professional. We became a family. My goodness, the tears on the last day were epic.
If you were having a real life midnight feast what food would you insist on having?
Egg mayonnaise sandwiches.
The drama is filmed in Devon and Cornwall, had you been before and what did you think of it?
I hadn’t and I thought it was very beautiful and dramatic. It rained a lot. I loved the stately home we filmed in. The Lord and Lady were so hospitable, and squealed with joy at meeting Matron. I told them both to behave themselves or it’s straight to their dorm with no supper. They loved it.
How do you reflect back on making the drama?
We had such a wonderful time. I am certain it will show on the screen. There’s no better work than when a cast enjoys one another.
Why should people watch the series?
There’s something in it for everyone.