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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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Material Girl: interview with Lenora Crichlow (Ali Redcliffe)

Ali Redcliffe played by Lenora Crichlow (image: BBC/Carnival Film and Television)

How are you enjoying this particular role and being a fashion designer?

I'm thoroughly enjoying it, it's a very different role to playing a ghost in Being Human and a very different world to the one I'm used to as Lenora.

I can't say that I move and shake in the world of fashion, so it's wonderful to get to do something completely different, nothing to complain about really. I get my hair and make-up done every morning and I get the chance to wear fabulous clothes.

You must have had some fashion interest before?

I've always been interested in fashion, the clothes, but I'm not that familiar with the fashion industry, for me it just comes out of quite an innocent sense of style. I just like being a bit different and then finding what suits me. I don't really follow fashion exactly but I've always been very interested in the way that you present yourself as an expression of yourself, so that's my idea of fashion and style from a personal point of view. I don't really watch trends or designers and haven't particularly taken an interest outside of that until now.

How would you describe Ali's style?

Ali's style is unfussy, stylish, practical and sexy, it was important that people could relate to her. She wears a lot of vintage and there's a timeless element to those clothes.

Ralph Wheeler-Holes, the very talented costume designer, mixed up vintage with a lot of high street, which is a very different look to what I would normally wear. Ralph completely thinks outside the box, I wouldn't have chosen the majority of the items he'd selected. I wouldn't even go there, but once it's on I'm like, oh yeah!

Seeing how Ralph has taken vintage clothes and put them alongside new pieces, making an outfit look fantastic, has made me think about my look, my clothes are a bit more obvious.

Is there pressure taking on the lead role in the drama?

It's a slightly different pressure, definitely different to my role in Being Human or Sugar Rush, where I felt I had my backing singers, I felt like a joint lead. In Material Girl, I feel very much the central character because everything revolves around Ali's story, but I feel like there's a huge family around me, maybe because it's BBC One, I feel like I've got a lot of support so if the pressure builds, there's lots of people I can go and talk to. I'm also very good under pressure!

What can you tell us about your character, Ali Redcliffe?

Well first of all she's a joy to play because she's one of these characters who really wears her heart on her sleeve.

I think within the drama she really represents an honest, integral, accessible person and I think that everybody should be able to tap into a part of her. Whether its pressures at work or having to compromise her relationship, she's a very real character and very rooted in her emotions.

Also then there's her career and setting herself up in business, which means she has to grow up and learn very quickly.

As a character she loves life and she's very fun, she loves her friends, she can be bit melodramatic at times, but who isn't?

Getting noticed in the fashion industry is tough, you hear about the bitchiness and backstabbing, does Material Girl tap into that side of the industry?

The drama doesn't really centre on those elements of the industry. Ali's fight is the challenge of starting a fashion label and learning the business. In that storyline there's a lot more scope for her to come up against the demons of the business and see if she's got what it takes.

The fashion world can be very fickle, but Material Girl focuses on the fun element, the creative element.

What about her love interest?

Which one? Ali is just having the best time.

She goes into business with Marco, her business partner and they have a complicated relationship. Towards the end of the series we flirt with the idea of what is bubbling along under the surface.

She does have a boyfriend who she meets quite early on in the series called Chris, who charms the pants off her in a bowling alley, he's wonderful, literally bowls her off her feet. He's very cool and they hit it off straight away, it's all going really well until her ex turns up – not only does he turn up, he employs her boyfriend as a model.

She feels this complicates things and, as always, nothing is straightforward with Ali and her love life, but that makes it very entertaining and a lot more exciting.

Have you ever tried making your own clothes and were they any good?

I have! And I did wear them out! OK, that's a bit of a lie, I haven't made my own clothes, I've knitted my own scarf and I've customised stuff.

That's what I used to do when I was at college, so I'd have a pair of very plain tracksuit bottoms but try and jazz them up by cutting them up and sticking things on them, if that counts. I like to think I'm creative, just to keep things fun and unique but I couldn't say I' ve made anything from scratch.

Are you inspired now?

Very much so, I've had to learn how it's all done and I'm sure it sounds and looks a lot easier than it actually is because everyone around me makes it look very easy. Yes, so I'm very tempted and I don't know what's next – I might be dressing my whole family!

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