Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Times Photoshoot

(Photos from K-H.com.) Read More......

Article: "Keeley Hawes on Ashes to Ashes"

"Keeley Hawes on Ashes to Ashes" by Benji Wilson. The Telegraph, April 17, 2009.

    Match the copper with his office: an empty whisky glass with greasy fingermarks all over it, a framed certificate for the police Armed Response Training Course and a film poster on the wall for a film called Wild West with the tagline, ‘The maverick sheriff clears it up.’

    The name on the door is ‘DCI Gene Hunt’, obviously. Outside is the desk of DI Alex Drake, complete with Silver-Reed typewriter and a couple of Betamax tapes.

    This is the Ashes to Ashes set, the Ground Zero for Eighties fetishism.

    If big calculators, rotary-dial phones and overflowing ashtrays are your thing, welcome to heaven. It’s wonderful to behold, although you wouldn’t want to live in it: 2009 is cleaner and tidier, and less beige.

    But then, as Marshall Lancaster (who plays junior copper Chris) walks past in a stonewash jacket, flecked trousers and slip-ons, remarks, ‘I bet at some point we’ll look back to the credit crunch with rose-tinted specs.’

    The first series of Ashes to Ashes ran riot with the Eighties theme. Detective Drake (Keeley Hawes) got shot in 2008 and woke up in 1981, becoming part of Hunt’s ends-justify-means police squad. Her series-long mission was to save her parents from their death, and then get back to her daughter in the present. But the show was just as much about the soundtrack, the brick-size Walkmans and the legwarmers.

    This time round, according to 33-year-old Londoner Hawes, things are getting serious. ‘The main storyline is about police corruption,’ she says. ‘It goes right the way through, so rather than it being about Alex trying to save her parents it’s a storyline that actually affects everybody.’

    It follows a pattern set by the show’s time-travelling predecessor Life on Mars, where in its second series, buoyed by its popularity, the writers started to explore weightier themes such as racism in the force. Now it’s 1982, so expect Thatcher and the Falklands to come to the fore. And the odd musing on the very nature of existence.

    ‘The line is beginning to blur between Alex’s reality and what she thought was her reality,’ says Hawes. ‘She’s starting to question whether she’s actually from here [1982] and in fact her other life [in 2008] is a dream. You have to keep up a bit.’

    Not bad for a prime-time cop show. Hawes says that the breadth of the subject matter is in keeping with the broad nature of the audience, which averaged more than 6 million last series. Some people, she says, watch Ashes to Ashes to gawp at the hair-dos, others to engage with subtler themes.

    ‘If the writers had gone straight in to more serious issues like police corruption from the outset, people would have said, “Where’s the fun?”’ she says. ‘The Eighties is a lot of fun to look at. There’s a lot of fashion and a lot of humour to be had from that. But there are other comments to be made. We were never going to please everybody all of the time.’

    Hawes’s arrival as Gene Hunt’s new sparring partner, following John Simm’s Seventies sojourn in Life on Mars, displeased a lot of people from the outset. Reviews of Ashes to Ashes when it began last year fĂȘted the gloriously unreconstructed Hunt once again, but criticised both the character of Drake and Hawes’s performance, often blurring the line between the two.

    ‘I don’t think I’d ever had a bad word said before, so it was very unpleasant,’ says Hawes. ‘At one point somebody had written, “It’s clear that the other cast members do not like this actress.” But their characters are supposed to not like Alex Drake when she arrives. We’re acting! The cast were all coming over to my house for lunch and I had to say, “I have got a bit upset by all of this – you do like me, don’t you?”’

    While she received encouraging letters from many women, as well as public support from Philip Glenister, who plays Hunt, most of the criticism came from men.

    ‘They didn’t like that Alex was coming in and shouting at Gene Hunt in a way they didn’t think was acceptable,’ she says. ‘I didn’t realise how tabloidy the show was either.

    In the Mirror they have pictures of him [Hunt] with his head on the Prime Minister’s body – he can do no wrong. I wasn’t aware of that. Foolishly. Otherwise I never would have gone.’

    If by ‘gone’ she means she never would have joined the show because of all the tabloid scrutiny, it has at least, she says, helped her to grow a thick skin. ‘Now I think it was probably one of the best things that can happen to me because nothing can ever get to me again,’ she says. ‘The worst thing that can happen, happened.’

    And it’s Hawes who has had the last laugh: a third series of Ashes to Ashes has already been commissioned. Then, just as with Life on Mars, that will be that.

    ‘Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah [the creators of Ashes to Ashes] have always said it was a story that would last three series and then be wrapped up,’ she says.

    How it will be concluded is something that, if the denouement of Life on Mars was anything to go by, will keep the blogosphere churning for months, and then confound all expectations.

    All expectations except those of the cast, that is.

    ‘They’ve told us the whole plan, yes they have!’ says Hawes. ‘It was very exciting. We had a read-through and they just told us, basically. It was a hairs-going-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck moment because of course we all try to guess all the time. And we were all wrong.’

    Ashes to Ashes is on BBC One on Monday at 9.00pm
Read More......

Friday, April 17, 2009

Identity (2010)

Genre: TV Series, Crime, Drama

Writers: Ed Whitmore

Synopsis: Series about a police unit that probes "the darker side of reinvention: murderers who literally take other people’s lives, criminals who create new personas to escape evil pasts, impostors who look, talk and sound just like us but would kill you in a heartbeat."

Keeley's Role: DSI Martha Lawrence

Other Cast Members:
Aidan Gillen as DI Michael Bloom
Holly Aird as Tessa Stein
Shaun Parkes as DS Anthony Wareing
Elyes Gabel as DC Jose Rodriguez

Status: Six episodes were ordered and filmed in and around London during April 2009. They aired on ITV July-August 2010.

Identity photos

also see:
TV Scoop article
Broadcast Now article Read More......

Article: "Hawes Teases Season Two"

"Hawes Teases Season Two: Ashes to Ashes" by Ian Cullen, SciFiPulse.net, April 17, 2009.

When we last saw DI Alex Drake she’d just failed to save her parents from a car bombing, and was in a state of total despair at not being able to save them. Season Two picks up the story one year on in 1982, and Alex has very much become a part of the CID team, headed up by DCI Gene Hunt, but still seeks to find her way back to 2008.

Monday 20, April will see Ashes to Ashes explode onto our screens, and the opening moments will see DI Drake and the gang looking for suspects in London’s underground sewage system. Thankfully this is not going to set the tone for Keeley Hawes as she reprises her role as Drake, and in a recent interview she talked on where she feels the second series will go.

“This series we get to see that Alex has calmed down a lot and has begun to settle into the 1980s environment. She now considers the people around her to be friends and, because we have moved on a year, things aren’t quite so heightened for her.

“I’ve found Alex really interesting to play this series,” continues Keeley, “because the lines are blurring between what she thinks is real and what isn’t. She is now beginning to wonder whether the 2008 part of her life, including her daughter Molly, only ever existed in her head. It’s definitely been an interesting angle to explore rather than the story simply concentrating on her trying to get back to the present.”

Much like as happened in Life On Mars before it, viewers will be introduced to an enigmatic stranger who is watching the DI and is trying to contact her in a mysterious manner.

“A strange man keeps leaving Alex roses which she initially thinks is another puzzle,” Keeley explains. “She starts to investigate further, believing that if she solves the puzzle she may be able to go home. There are certainly lots of twists but I can’t give the game away!”

Ever since Ashes To Ashes began veiwers have got used to the tempestuous relationship between DI Alex Drake and the brash and often dogmatic DCI Gene Hunt. Viewers have got used to their fiery exchanges, however Keeley believes her character has a degree of admiration for Hunt.

“They do still have their ups and downs,” reveals Keeley, “but Gene is beginning to take on board different ways of policing and is starting to understand forensics and the importance of collecting evidence. Occasionally he and Alex are quite in tune and they definitely admire each other to a certain extent.”

The actor also confirms that there is a darker edge to the second season.

“When Detective Superintendent ‘Supermac’ Mackintosh joins CID as Gene’s boss Alex instantly likes him, but then she starts to see a darker side to his life,” explains Keeley. “Roger Allam, who plays Supermac, is absolutely fantastic. He’s brought a mysterious side to the character and a darker side to the whole series which we’re all really pleased with.”

“The script writers have also explored Dean, Marshall and Montserrat’s characters more this series,” explains Keeley, “and we get to see a lot more of Chris and Shaz’s relationship.”

As everyone knows the nineteen eighties were a period of flamboyant fashion and big hair, and the second season illustrates this factor of the period even more so than the first season, and the shows core group of characters have had makeovers to reflect the changing trends of the day.

“Costume changes and fittings were very difficult during filming for series one because I was in so many scenes. Each change meant leaving the set and going to the costume department which took up a lot of time. So for this series the production team had to think up a way of building more time into my schedule,” explains Keeley. “Ultimately this meant we had more opportunity to delve into Alex’s wardrobe which was great fun!

“We haven’t gone down the silly Eighties fashion route because I don’t think Alex would wear those clothes,” continues Keeley. “However, Alex definitely wears a lot more outfits in this series and in one episode I think I have eight costume changes! I had one quite brilliant outfit which was a shirt with a giant pussy bow, covered in little anchors, tight jeans with red stripes down the side and anchor earrings which were on chains. It really was quite something! I also had a great Japanese look at one point. The costume department have gone to town with the details this series.”

A rare treat for Keeley was driving the Quattro, an experience usually reserved for the one-and-only Gene Hunt.

“I love driving the Quattro, the handbrake turns are particularly fun! However, there was one time when we were all in the car with a very expensive camera attached and Phil was driving. We were heading towards the end of the road, in the rain, and suddenly the brakes didn’t work! It was a hairy moment but Phil is a very good driver and managed to stop the car; we are all still here thank God!”

Much like the first season fans can expect to see cameo appearances from noted 1980’s personalities such as: Roland Rat and Morph who were mainstays of childrens television throughout the 1980s.

Ashes To Ashes returns to television on Monday, April 20 at 9 pm on BBC1. Read More......

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Identity" -- New TV Series!

Several sites are reporting that Keeley is to star in a new six-part series for ITV called Identity about "the darker side of reinvention: murderers who literally take other people’s lives, criminals who create new personas to escape evil pasts, impostors who look, talk and sound just like us but would kill you in a heartbeat."

Keeley will play the leader of the unit, DSI Martha Lawrence. The cast will also include Aidan Gillen, Holly Aired, Shaun Parkes, Elyes Gabel.

The episodes were written by Ed Whitmore, writer of Waking the Dead and He Kills Coppers.

The series is scheduled to air late this year or early next, which I assume means that filming hasn't started yet.

Here are some links announcing the series -- some of them are older and don't mention casting:
- TV Scoop
- Unreality Primetime
- Digital Spy
- Broadcast Now. Read More......

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Article: Keeley Hawes on the Second Coming of Ashes to Ashes (2009)

"Keeley Hawes on the second coming of Ashes to Ashes" by Hugo Rifkind for The Times, April 6, 2009.

Critically panned at first, Ashes to Ashes has found an eager audience on both sides of the Atlantic, to the delight of its star.

Keeley Hawes is relieved. Ashes to Ashes, in which she stars, had its premiere on US television the night before, and the reviewers didn't hate it. “There was one review,” she said, “which said: ‘This may be the best thing on television'. On American television! The best! That's got to be good. Hasn't it?”

It's not, necessarily, the reception that she was expecting. It wasn't like that the last time, over here. She jokes about it now, but she jokes about it so much that you suspect she isn't really joking. “The worst thing,” she says, “is when you get a text from someone saying: ‘Don't read the Mail today'. And of course, you do. Because it's the only way you have some sort of... control.”

When Ashes to Ashes first aired, just over a year ago, the reviews were bad, and the bits about her were awful. “A godawful small affair!” roared one tabloid, quite cleverly. Another described her as “an annoying, screeching toff who makes viewers want to punch the telly”. The upmarket papers were no kinder. “I rarely see properly bad acting on TV any more,” sighed one.

“I don't know how I went back on that set,” Hawes says now, sitting across from me on a Soho sofa and still looking incredulous. “But I did, and I'm really glad I did. Even though everything... landed on me.”

Even some of the nicer reviews at the time described her as “miscast”. What they actually meant, she now realises, was “not John Simm”. Life on Mars, in which Simm had starred a year earlier, was a smash hit. Ashes to Ashes, the sequel, was only conceived because Simm didn't want to be in it any more. The rest of the cast roared back on to our screens, guns literally blazing, led by Philip Glenister's fantastically popular Gene Hunt. And in the middle of them all was Hawes. The new straight man. Only, not a man.

“I'd never do it again,” she says. “I'd never step into somebody else's shoes. I should have been more daunted. The reaction! People just could not get their heads around the fact that I wasn't John Simm. I'm not! I'm never going to be!”

She remembers one woman in particular, a fan, whom she met with a friend on Charlotte Street. “She was furious with me. ‘How dare you speak like that to Gene Hunt! He's a good man!'” Her eyes grow wide. “This is a grown woman, in Soho. Talking to me about a time-travelling show, talking to me about some characters that don't even... I mean, it astounded me. How fond of Gene Hunt they were. And how cross they were that I was getting one up on him. And I'm, like: ‘Wow. I didn't write it.'”

It didn't help that Ashes to Ashes initially wasn't quite as good as Life on Mars, either. “Sure,” Hawes allows. “Fine. Life on Mars had something like thirty drafts. It was seamless. Ashes to Ashes went into production very quickly. It was never going to be so perfect.”

Perhaps as a result, it was hard to know which was the leading role. In Life on Mars, Glenister's Hunt was a supporting character. Ashes to Ashes was a two-headed monster. “I went into it thinking it was all about Phil,” she says, “and Phil went into it blaming it all on me.”

Flawed or not, it was a hit. Reviews aside, seven million people watched the first episode. By the fifth, one quality newspaper announced that Ashes to Ashes had “stepped out of the shadow of Life on Mars.” The BBC commissioned a second series. Hawes says there will also be a third.

Sitting opposite me in her agent's office in Soho, the actress is almost unrecognisable. The hair is Joan of Arc sleek, rather than a 1980s bouffant, and the make-up is softer, making the face less pointy. She's wearing a sort of drab, green, floor-length tunic thing. Not a red bra strap or a fishnet in sight. “I probably look like a prisoner of war,” she jokes, although it's done in a very high-fashion way, as though looking like a prisoner of war was her fierce intention on leaving the house.

The fashion of the 1980s, she says quite devastatingly, is not to her taste. Still, within the show, she takes an interest. “I'm not male,” she points out, “so there was the potential for a fantastic wardrobe. But I'm also in every scene and we are working six days a week. When am I supposed to change?” On location, it takes half an hour. Five times a day, and you're losing three hours. “Either you're looking at a half-hour episode,” she says, “or it's ‘Oooh, lets do the off-the-shoulder top again'.”

At any rate, in the last series, her character Alex Drake felt that she was living in a semi-sane mental construct after being shot by a madman in front of her daughter. Consequently, Hawes points out, she probably wasn't in a shopping sort of mood. In the new series, Drake is more resigned to her surroundings. The wardrobe thus flourishes. There are some scenes, she says, that she has been deliberately written out of so that there is time to get her dressed for other ones.

Hawes says she remembers little bits of the early 1980s - Rubik's Cubes and the like. She's 32 now, but exudes a slightly mumsy vibe which makes her come across as a little older. Maybe it's her off-screen voice, which has a slightly 1950s cut-glass edge, or maybe it's just the way she's dressed, as if she's just left a very chic London Blitz.

One of the tabloids, she says, once asked her to do a revealing joint photo-spread with the glamour model Keeley Hazell. “Keeley and Keeley,” she says. “Maybe what they didn't like about me from the beginning was that they couldn't work out why I didn't want to do that.”

Her three kids are aged 8, 4 and 3. The key to being an actress and a mum, she jokes, is to keep it a secret. “Just don't tell anybody,” she says. “That's my advice. Wear big dresses. I worked through all my pregnancies. Death at a Funeral, and before that A Cock and Bull Story.” Her eldest child - Myles, who wants to be a zoologist - was fathered by her first husband, the cartoonist Spencer McCallum. The pair had a brief, eight-week marriage, which ended shortly after Hawes landed her role in Spooks and met husband two, her co-star Matthew Macfadyen.

At the age of 9, Hawes played the Pied Piper in a production at her primary school. “I loved it. And my teacher said I was good at it,” she says. “And yes, I do remember my lines, and no, I won't tell you what they were.” The family lived over the road from the Sylvia Young Theatre School, in Marylebone, North London, and across the road she went. The perfect voice probably came from there, rather than from her upbringing. “My dad's a black-cab driver,” she says. “For my parents, well, it's very exciting, they like seeing me in places, but it's not their world. They certainly didn't trot me out there, with glitter in my hair.”

Emma Bunton, of the Spice Girls, was a contemporary. Afterwards Hawes did work experience in the fashion departments of She magazine and Just Seventeen and worked as a model. “Although I wasn't very good at it,” she says. How can you be bad at modelling? She sighs. “It's possible. I lived with some other models, and travelled, but it was never going to be a long-term thing. It was sort of like my year out.”

Her big acting break was in Dennis Potter's Karaoke in 1996. “Terror,” she says. “Mostly. I walked into the read-through and sat at the back, next to the costume designer. They had to come and get me, to sit next to Richard E. Grant. It was my first grown-up job.” There were other blips on the radar in the following years (Tipping the Velvet, Complicity) and then in 2002 there was Spooks.

“We work very differently,” she says, of the co-star who became her husband. “He just says no to everything. I get much more. It's nice, say, when you go to something like the Baftas. You are both aware of what you have to do.” Both spent almost three years in Spooks, during which time it did, indeed, win a Bafta. “Three series is quite enough,” she says. “You start to become a character. Well. We did get married, didn't we?”

Spooks, like Ashes to Ashes, was made for the Beeb by the production company Kudos. “They're great,” she says. “They make shows like Ashes to Ashes and Life on Mars! Most people would go: ‘Erm, time travelling, what what?' But they go: ‘Yeah, f*** it, let's give it a go'.”

She had never actually seen Life on Mars, she admits, when they first started sounding her out about the sequel. On the day that she had her audition alongside Glenister, her youngest son reached up and stuck his finger into her eye. “He scratched my cornea,” she says. “I had cocaine eye drops, so I couldn't feel half my face and I had the biggest eyepatch. So I was led in, trying to look all cool and sexy and Alex-like, with this big thing on my face. Holding on to the casting director.”

Hawes won't reveal what happens in the next two series of Ashes to Ashes, but she will say that the ending made “the hairs on the back of my neck stand up”. Also, she says, existentially, the next series should be a little less confusing. In the last one even the actors didn't always know what was going on. “Does this make sense for that?” she mugs. “Does that make sense for this? Should I be doing this because of that? Do I know that I know this and he knows that and he doesn't know but I know? Ooof. Sci-fi.”

In terms of forward planning, she's cagey. She's thrilled that the show has had a good reception in America, and she thinks about Hollywood a little, but also wonders if it might be a bit too much of an upheaval. “Matthew did Frost/Nixon here,” she points out. “Hollywood could be nice, but I might be in something shit, in which case it would be really bad. I've got a great script right here. I'm in the best thing on American television! I'm going to say that to everybody I meet.”

She's happy. Hopes you're happy, too. And if she could play any role in the world? “Easy,” she says, deadpan. “Gene Hunt.”

The new series of Ashes to Ashes begins on April 21 at 9pm on BBC One. Read More......

Article: "There's a birth and a snog and lots of deaths" (2009)

"Keeley Hawes: ‘There’s a birth and a snog and lots of deaths’" by Maureen Paton for The Daily Mail, April 5, 2009.

We’re thrilled that Keeley has been busy reprising her role (and that 80s bubble perm) as DI Alex ‘Bolly Knickers’ Drake in the time-travel cop series Ashes to Ashes. And, she reveals, life has been just as frantic off screen.

Although Keeley Hawes’s face has become her fortune in more ways than one, it certainly couldn’t be said to have gone to her head.

She arrives for our photo shoot with her hair in a glossy brown bob, but immediately punctures that immaculate impression by pointing out a few grey ones and telling me that she turns 33 the day after our interview. ‘I blame the grey hair on Phil,’ she jokes of her Ashes to Ashes co-star Philip Glenister, with whom Keeley has been working 12-hour days on the second series.

Yet although her action-girl stardom in BBC1’s Spooks and now BBC’s hit time-travel cop show Ashes has made her the best recruiting agent for detective work since that sexy strip-cartoon heroine Modesty Blaise, Keeley surprised many people a year ago by accepting a modelling sideline as the face of Boots No7.

And although there’s a classiness about her that doesn’t immediately suggest the sort of mainstream looks you would associate with the high-street chemist, she’s just signed up for two more years.

‘It’s a strange thing to do,’ she admits of the advertising deal that has given her an accessible profile, ‘but it’s something that everybody [in show business] is doing. Even Ewan McGregor, Sean Connery and Iggy Pop are in ads now.’

And it seems that the accolade matters as much to her as the money. For now she has passed the big 3-0, Keeley confesses to feeling flattered at even being approached in these ageist times when dewy-faced 16-year-olds are used to advertise skin creams they hardly need. ‘I was delighted. To be offered a beauty contract when I’m in my 30s with three kids made me go, “Yay!”’

Keeley, a London cabbie’s daughter who took elocution lessons and studied at the Sylvia Young stage school with Emma Bunton and Denise Van Outen, became a mother much earlier than is fashionable these days. Hence her obsession with the passing years as she copes with the demands of three children under ten while maintaining her career as one of our most successful small-screen actresses.

She wistfully tells me that at the school gates she hardly knows the other mothers – ‘I’m younger than lots of them because I had my children so young,’ she says.

At her age, most working actresses are still child-free. So the money from her beauty contract gives Keeley and her second husband, 34-year-old actor Matthew MacFadyen, the freedom to do the kind of projects they’re really interested in rather than having to sign up, say, to the regular money offered by a soap.

‘Oh God, no,’ groans Keeley of that prospect. ‘If you go into one, you’re in people’s living rooms three days a week and it’s relentless.’

A former child actor, Keeley launched herself into grown-up TV as one of Dennis Potter’s dream-girl sex objects in 1996’s Karaoke, then munched her way through mountains of chips to play a plump young Diana Dors in the ITV drama Blonde Bombshell, followed by a bisexual heart-breaker in the BBC’s sapphic costume shocker Tipping the Velvet.

That role introduced her to a whole new audience, especially after she was misquoted as saying in one lesbian magazine interview that she was bisexual. ‘What I actually said was that everybody is probably perfectly capable of finding somebody of the same sex attractive – but I certainly haven’t had any lesbian relationships,’ she now says.

When she and Matthew met and fell in love on the set of Spooks in 2002, it caused a stir because she had married her first husband, cartoonist Spencer McCallum, just eight weeks beforehand. Their son Myles was only 20 months old, which engulfed her with guilt, yet both she and Spencer have moved on peacefully.

And although Keeley once admitted that the subsequent experience of divorce was ‘horrific – up there with death as one of the worst things that can happen’, she now recalls that episode saying, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’

Keeley married Matthew in 2004, and Spencer has met a new partner. He lives near Keeley and Matthew in Twickenham and has always been involved with the babysitting. ‘Although we have a nanny, Spencer still helps out,’ says Keeley. When I say what a civilised arrangement the three of them have come to, she adds: ‘I can’t imagine it any other way – I think it’s very sad when it can’t work out like that.’

Keeley emulated her parents by settling down to marriage and motherhood by her mid-20s (Keeley’s mother Brenda had given birth to all four of her children before she was 30). Keeley was 25 when she had Myles, and she admits she loves babies so much that she lost no time in having Maggie, now four, and Ralph, two, with Matthew.

‘You don’t have three of them if you don’t love children. It’s very easy to keep putting off having a family if you enjoy your job, but you just have to get on with life,’ she believes. ‘I’m very lucky with acting not being a nine-to-five job, so after finishing Ashes, I can have six weeks off to spend with my children’.

Keeley was lucky (or astute) enough to marry two very domesticated men. Matthew does most of the cooking, and is so good with Myles that they were even cast as father and son when Matthew, a great fan of Ashes to Ashes, got his wish to play a cameo role in one episode of the first series. ‘They wanted a seven-year-old who looked at ease with Matthew, so they hired Myles,’ explains Keeley. ‘He came in, tipped a tin of beans over Matthew’s head, laughed and went home – so he had a very nice time.’

She says she could never be a stay-at-home mother like her sister Joanne, and insists that her partnership with Matthew is an equal one, in which both their careers are important.

At the moment, her profile happens to be higher than Matthew’s, despite the fact that his performance as Darcy opposite Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Bennet in the 2005 big-screen version of Pride and Prejudice brought the offers flooding in.

Although Matthew has a significant role as former BBC chief John Birt in Frost/Nixon, his latest prestigious project, A Passage to India, has been cancelled because of economic cutbacks at ITV.

‘I’m often asked whether it’s a problem if one of us is doing better than the other, and I’ve never really understood that question. If one is doing well, it’s a great relief to the other one because it takes the pressure off,’ says Keeley.

She returns to our screens this month in Ashes to Ashes, as Detective Inspector Alex Drake, a 21st-century policewoman catapulted back to the sexist 1980s, while barely clad in a tarty off-the-shoulder red top from an undercover job. No wonder she had so many hysterics while trying to maintain her authority, especially with all that crackling sexual tension between Alex and Philip Glenister’s charismatically macho DCI Gene Hunt (who calls her ‘Bolly Knickers’ because he thinks she’s a champagne-quaffing Southerner).

The second series is darker, with a theme of police corruption, and Keeley says that Alex has developed accordingly. ‘There’s a birth and a snog and lots of deaths and a marriage, although I’m not the one giving birth or getting married,’ she grins, and won’t be drawn over who is doing the snogging.

‘Alex is less highly strung and she’s had time to go clothes-shopping, so that off-the-shoulder number has gone. But if I actually appeared in clothes that a woman DI would have worn then, everybody would say, “Where’s the fun in that?” So you have to have some artistic licence.

'Part of the fun of doing a show set in the 80s is the clothes and hair,’ says Keeley, who didn’t escape the Kevin Keegan look of the time because she got her first perm at the age of 11. ‘Back then everyone wanted to look like Chris Cagney from the female cop show Cagney & Lacey,’ says Keeley, who wears a Cagney half-wig on top of her real hair in the new series of Ashes.

She’s filming the CID interiors in the same windowless room in Bermondsey, London, where she shot the MI5 interiors for Spooks, a show that she doesn’t seem to be able to get away from.

Even while she was giving birth to a 10lb 8oz Ralph, the starstruck anaesthetist was saying to Keeley and Matthew: ‘I do miss you both in Spooks.’ ‘I felt like saying, “Shut up! Now is not the time!”’ says Keeley. ‘Ralph is going to be a tall boy – he’s already got his rugby legs.’

Keeley herself is 5ft 10in, which means she often towers over her leading men – though not in the case of six-footers Matthew and Philip.

Before her big break in Karaoke, she had spent 18 months as a model from the age of 16 – albeit a lazy one, by her account, who couldn’t be bothered to go on diets. ‘I’m a size 12 and I’m very happy with it. Matthew likes me however I am, all through my pregnancies and afterwards,’ says Keeley, who told me when we last met nearly four years ago that he even said he would be happier if she were half a stone heavier (what an ideal husband). ‘Life is simply too short to think about everything you put in your mouth, and it’s not good for children to see you picking over bits of salad.’

And despite her awareness of the passing years, she’s firmly against cosmetic surgery. ‘Botox and other fillers make everybody look the same, with the big cheekbones where they fill you up. It’s much cheaper to have a fringe – it takes years off everybody,’ she grins.

Although Keeley’s looks easily match Keira’s and could make her a natural for Hollywood, she sees no reason to uproot the family to Los Angeles. Four years ago, she had admitted to me: ‘There’s a huge machine that comes with big-budget films and Matthew copes with that very well, but it’s much too frightening for me.’ Now, it seems, there’s another, very practical reason not to go. ‘We’ve just moved to a new house with a lovely garden and chickens, so it’s ideal for the children. And as long as they have that base, they have continuity and that’s the important thing.’

Having grown up in the warm embrace of a big supportive family, she even talked to me previously about adopting a child in need because she had been so moved by the award-winning TV documentary on Chinese orphanages, The Dying Rooms. Now, it seems, she is taking tentative steps towards it.

‘I’m very maternal, and there’s a really lovely thing you can do where you look after a disabled child for a while to give their parents some respite. I thought that would be a good place to start, so I’ve looked into that and have been sent some details,’ says Keeley, who also helps to promote the children’s hospice service Chase in Surrey.

There aren’t too many successful young actresses around with such admirable aims. So I think this yummy career mummy, who valiantly tries to have it all without selling either part of her life short, should be allowed her share of harmless vanities.

When you remind an established star of the erotic pictures they once posed for while trying to break into the business, you usually risk getting skewered by a killer look.

But Keeley can’t wait to tell me that when a newspaper marked the launch of Ashes to Ashes’ first series by running semi-clad pictures of her that had been taken for German Vogue and GQ magazines when she was 18, she was delighted rather than affronted. ‘People thought I had just had them done. Three children and the body of an 18-year-old!’ she laughs.

‘I’m not self-conscious about my body, but I think I will keep it covered up after having three children. There comes a time when you have to say, “Hmm, that’s it, I think I’ll save it for indoors.”

The photos that were published with this article are here. Read More......

Lorenzo Agius Shoot (2009)

More after the cut.

(Photos: Lorenzo Agius, via The Daily Mail.)
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