BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

29 October 2014
Press Office
Search the BBC and Web
Search BBC Press Office

BBC Homepage

Contact Us


Judy Parfitt as Mercy Woolf


Starts this autumn on BBC THREE


Judy Parfitt plays Mercy Woolf


Comes from: Sheffield, but now lives in Sussex.

Studied at: RADA.

What's she been in before? Judy has starred in a number of films, plays and TV dramas including Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Jewel in the Crown.

Did you know? Judy made her stage debut with Fools Rush In in 1954.


For Judy Parfitt, having spent the last 20 years playing queens, duchesses and aristocrats, she was surprised and delighted when she was offered the part of the evil, manipulative Mercy Woolf in BBC THREE's new disturbingly funny thriller, Funland.


"I always think casting against type is the most interesting thing to do," says Judy. "People don't take enough risks at the moment, but this was the most exciting script that I have read in many years and I was thrilled to be offered the part.


"The thing that is interesting about Mercy from an actress's point of view is that normally as an actress you draw on your own emotional experiences or people that you know, but with Mercy there was absolutely nothing about her that I could identify with.


"Mercy is totally ruthless: she will do anything to get what she wants and she is so detached from any sort of real emotion, if she does show any emotion then it is only in the hope of manipulating someone to do what she wants them to do!


"She's totally different to me as I think I'm about as frightening as Minnie Mouse!"


Mercy is the head of the Woolf family, who are at the heart of Funland, and a very significant player in the Blackpool business world. She has a strained relationship with her son, Shirley, as Shirley finds himself caught between two very formidable women, his mother and his foolhardy wife, Connie.


"Mercy runs a lapdancing club in Blackpool but she also has ambitions to own Blackpool in the same way that the Mafia used to own Las Vegas. It's a world that I know nothing about, a world of sex, violence and bad language, so Mercy's behaviour really must reflect this world.


"Shirley is the one person that she feels anything for, but her relationship with Shirley is a deep and dark relationship and the reasons for that only really become apparent as the plot unravels.


"And then there's Shirley's wife Connie who really amuses Mercy! Connie does put up a fight but I think she knows she is fighting a losing battle. Connie is feisty and she's a worthy opponent but she simply isn't as clever as Mercy!"


Shirley's two children, Liam and Ruby, are also drawn into Mercy's scheming as she uses them to get what she wants. But this relationship couldn't be further removed from Judy's relationship with her own grandchildren.


"I have two grand-daughters," says Judy proudly. "One is aged three and one just a few weeks old. The three-year-old loves dancing and showing off and I think she may have a little bit of me in her!


"She's so different to my son when he was a child; he was always very embarrassed by the fact that his mum and dad were famous and used to walk a couple of paces behind us whenever we were out anywhere!"


Funland was filmed in both Blackpool and Manchester and filming in Manchester has brought back a lot of good memories for Judy.


"I have always liked Manchester. It feels like home in many ways," she reminisces. "I filmed several shows in Manchester in the Seventies and Eighties and they were probably the happiest times of my life.


"I think the two highlights were probably Secret Orchards which was about this banana king who had a wife and three children on one side and a secret lover on the other side - and I played the mistress who was an extraordinary woman.


"And then, of course, there's The Jewel in the Crown - which I am incredibly proud of."


< previous section next section >
Printable version top^

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy