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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Lip Service – Laura Fraser plays Cat

A self-assured architect, Cat is a driven control freak with a tendency to fret and analyse everything and anything – rarely leaping before she looks.

A loyal friend and loving sister to Ed, Cat is able to be very open with those closest to her but is often cagey and secretive in relationships – finding it hard to really open up.

Cat's first big love was the exciting, but wild, Frankie. Teenage best friends, they fell in love in their twenties but then Frankie bailed out and took off to the States.

It's taken Cat a long time to get over Frankie but now her former lover is back and she's completely unnerved and emotionally thrown.

Tell us about Cat

She's quite uptight, sensible and brittle and is under the illusion she can control everyone and everything in her world.

In the opening episode, viewers find out it's two years since her first love, Frankie, has left her heartbroken. When Frankie – who is quite a destructive character – makes an unexpected reappearance it opens up a whole can of worms and Cat's very ordered world falls apart all over again.

Can you relate to her control-freak tendencies?

I can definitely relate because I'm a total control 'freakoid'. I'm better now than I used to be and I'd say being a mum has helped. It's only when I had my daughter that I noticed how bad I was, because I'd go: 'My God, my daughter's so bossy and controlling,' and people would reply: 'Hmm, I wonder where she got that from?'

Unlike Cat, I can see how ridiculous I am about it and I don't control people – which is what she tries to do with her relationships. I honestly wouldn't say I'm as bad as her – although some of my friends might disagree.

Did you enjoy playing Cat?

Playing Cat was actually quite stressful because she's never relaxed – she's always hyper, nervous or barking at people or getting angry or annoyed about something. So, at the end of a day's filming, I was always like: 'Thank God. Now I'm allowed to smile again.'

What is it about Frankie that Cat can't resist?

It's that first love thing. She's in her early-thirties and I think it's all to do with nostalgia and recapturing your youth. I do think if Frankie hadn't broken Cat's heart then she probably wouldn't have closed down so much. She wouldn't have had to put up her defences and maybe then she would've been a much easier person to hang out with.

This isn't the first time you've played a lesbian character on screen, is it?

I think I've played a lesbian about five times. The first one was with Helen Baxendale in a drama called The Investigator, about the conditions lesbians had to live under in the army in Britain, which was based on a true story.

Another time, I did a short film for my husband playing a lesbian and then I did a movie called Nina's Heavenly Delights, where I was a lesbian cook. I can't remember the other ones. I have no idea why I keep getting cast as lesbians – just luck I guess!

How was it filming the bedroom scenes for Lip Service?

The good thing about doing those scenes with another woman, for a change, is that we were trading-off on how we'd play it going: 'I'll hide your boobs if you hide my fat tummy, or I'll cover your cellulite if you don't show them my upper arm.'

Also, snogging girls is very different to snogging boys – the excess softness on the top upper lip, as opposed to stubble, feels really strange.

What appealed to you about the script?

I thought it was really funny and I liked that it was shot in Glasgow and that it was a chance to show off Glasgow's nicer architecture – also, because it had female central characters and I tend to give anything a shot that has female central leads. To me, it's a relationship drama where the women just happen to be gay.

Did you enjoy filming in Glasgow?

It was such a treat and so lovely to be able to go home at night. On the down side, it was freezing as our costumes were all autumn-wear, so we were wearing light jackets and had bare legs in the middle of December. I have never been so cold.

Did you hang out with your co-stars off-screen as well as on?

I heard they had huge amounts of fun going out, whereas I was the boring old matriarch who had to go home to be mum. I have to admit, I'm not much of a party girl anymore.

But I love those women and they all came round to my house for dinner one night and we had a gorgeous evening. Heather Peace made this beautiful Thai curry with amazing handmade starters and everything. So yes, I didn't even do the cooking – that's pathetic, isn't it? I get too nervous if I'm cooking for more than two people, so when Heather offered to cook I was like: 'Yay! Use my house!'

What's next on the cards for you?

After Lip Service I did a film called Flutter, with Billy Zane and Ricky Tomlinson, about gambling. I played Ricky's daughter, who is a lawyer. I adore that man – he's so abstract and always trying to make you laugh.

Then I did a drama called Single Father for BBC One, where I play David Tennant's wife, but then she dies. I've been pretty busy so now I am going to enjoy a nice bit of time off and see what comes up next.

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