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20 September 2014
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Frances Barber as Connie Woolf


Starts this autumn on BBC THREE


Frances Barber plays Connie Woolf


Lives in: London.

What's she been in before? Frances has appeared in the BBC ONE drama Real Women and more recently in Where the Heart Is on ITV.

Did you know? Frances will be making her pantomime debut this Christmas, playing alongside Ian McKellen at The Old Vic Theatre in London's West End.


The role of sexy but ageing Connie Woolf calls for Frances Barber to wear some incredible outfits.


"I'm certainly revealing more flesh than I intended to, that's for sure!" laughs Frances.


"We were filming one particular scene in Blackpool and I had to walk across the road in this completely see-through dress and there were lots of comments flying about from passers-by!


"But I think it's right for my character, Connie - the outfits that she wears are absolutely in tune with Funland because it's a heightened realism of how Connie would look."


Connie is Shirley Woolf's strong-willed wife and she will do anything to hold on to her man.


"Shirley is a sex addict and Connie knows he sleeps around," explains Frances. "She has to permanently look her best because she is insecure that he will disappear with a younger model. She's had her boobs done, her nails done, her hair highlighted… everything.


"Even sitting at home, she's in an extravagant outfit of stockings, suspenders, basque, feather boa, everything, to wait for Shirley to come home. I imagine she spends all day at the beauty salon, at the tanning salon and in the hairdressers'.


"It's an exhausting existence, but she knows she has to do it to hang on to her husband. You do see women like that, who are in their forties and dress like they're in their twenties. She's a footballer's wife 20 years on!"


Connie is tough, but not quite as tough as she first seems. "Connie appears to be quite hard-nosed, but she has a desperate side to her as well," explains Frances.


"She has been with Shirley for about 20 years and they genuinely do love each other. But she knows that if she loses Shirley, then she will lose everything."


Connie makes plans to escape Blackpool and the overwhelming influence of Shirley's mother, Mercy, who she feels slightly threatened by.


"Connie's biggest fear is that Shirley will be persuaded by his mother to abandon her and so her sole concern is to get Shirley away from Mercy and to make a new life in Spain.


"I think Connie knows that Mercy is stronger than her: she can see that Mercy is a ruthless and callous character but although Connie recognises that Mercy is evil, she doesn't realise quite how evil she is until later in the series."


Connie and Mercy have several scenes together, which has given Frances the opportunity to realise a personal ambition: "It's been a massive thrill to work with Judy Parfitt, who plays Mercy, because I've been a fan of hers for years!" she says enthusiastically.


"It's also been fantastic to work on something that has such fabulous writing, which is very unusual and very different. If I wasn't in it, I'd be very jealous that I wasn't in it!"


Frances likens Funland to Twin Peaks because of the way the central character, Carter, leads viewers into the bizarre world that lurks behind Blackpool's funhouse doors.


"In Twin Peaks, Kyle MacLachlan's character took the viewers through this extraordinary sort of landscape of very curious characters doing odd things which they thought was perfectly normal - and I think that's exactly what Carter does.


"Carter comes in as an outsider and he takes the viewer into this sort of labyrinth of very bizarre occurrences and strange characters, like Ambrose Chapfel. But within that world, no-one thinks it's particularly strange."


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