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    From Hollyoaks to high drama
    Julie Buckfield.
    Julie Buckfield

    Julie Buckfield is probably best known for her role as Julie Matthews in Hollyoaks. In February, she comes to Milton Keynes in a new play by Richard Stockwell. She told Katy Lewis all about Bad Blood - and life in the popular teen soap.


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    Bad Blood
    Milton Keynes Theatre
    17-22 February 2003

    Mon - Sat eves 7.30pm Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm
    Tickets: £10.00-£22.00

    Box Office: 01908 606090

    get in contact

    Aaah hangover TV! The omnibus of the Channel 4 teen soap fills that aching gap between the Sunday morning Premiership highlights and the afternoon's big match, so as a bit of a fan, I was delighted to talk to Julie Buckfield, who has recently completed her second stint in the show.

    However, while Julie's television career started at a young age in the Disney Club and Grange Hill, before moving onto the Hollyoaks role for which she is probably best known, she is also a seasoned stage actress, making her theatrical debut as Young Eponine in Les Miserables in the West End.

    Julie (left) with twin sister Claire and Natalie Pouser in their Grange Hill days

    Most recently she played Cindy in The Tart and the Vicars Wife at the Theatre Royal, Lincoln, but when I caught up with her, she was in rehearsals for Bad Blood, a new play by Richard Stockwell, which is coming to Milton Keynes in February.

    "It's going very well" she says. "Although it's always very different with a new play because you make cuts during rehearsal."

    The play, a provocative new thriller from the writer of Killing Time, focuses on what appears to be a perfect couple.

    Tom and Vic, played by Gary Mavers (Peak Practice) and Gillian Taylforth (Footballers Wives, Eastenders) are rich, beautiful and successful forty-somethings with everything that money can buy. But they have just discovered that Vic cannot give Tom his longed for son and heir.

    "Tom and Vic have a happy life" says Julie, "then Tom's long lost daughter turns up and everything goes wrong."

    Julie plays the daughter Belinda, who arrives just as the cracks in their marriage are beginning to show and sets off an escalating spiral of suspicion, greed and betrayal, as blood ties and life-long friendships are put to the test. But as Julie explains, she's not a sly and vindictive character.

    "She's 19 and is a nice young girl with her head screwed on" she says. "She's not nasty, she just gets drawn into a bad situation."

    Bad Blood is described as a rollercoaster ride of twists, turns and double crosses where no-one is quite who they seem.

    With undercurrents of sexual tension and jealous passion, it is a psychological jigsaw cutting its way to the ultimate endgame - murder.

    The tour, which starts in Windsor, is set to last until May, a long time to be on the road and, as Julie says, the rest of your life is held in limbo.

    "The worst thing is living out of a suitcase" she explains. "You basically pack up your life in a suitcase and put your personal life on hold."

    "Also I live with my twin sister Claire so I will miss her a lot too."

    Claire Buckfield.
    Julie's twin sister Claire as Jenny in 2 point 4 children

    But touring with a play also has its advantages.

    "The best thing about touring is that you really get to know people" says Julie. "It's a small cast, there's only five of us, so we'll probably get quite close."

    "You also get a chance to play about with the piece a bit more if you're doing a long run."

    You certainly don't have much time to do this in TV, so which does she prefer, stage or television?

    "They are so different" she says, "but it's good to do both because it stops the boredom setting in."

    "In theatre you only have one chance to get it right so it's very challenging. On TV, you get to do it again and again if you get your lines wrong."

    This is something that her co-star Gillian Taylforth is finding out at the moment. As a household name from appearing for many years as Kathy Beale in the BBC's Eastenders and numerous popular TV series such as Footballers' Wives, Messiah and The House That Jack Built, she is making her theatrical debut in Bad Blood.

    Gillian Taylforth.
    Gillian Taylforth - theatrical debut

    "She's panicking already" jokes Julie, "and she's convinced she won't be able to remember her first line. But she'll be fine. It's a great part."

    This is Julie's first stage work since coming out of Hollyoaks for the second time. She played Julie Matthews from 1995-1997 at the beginning of the Hollyoaks phenomenon and returned for a short stint last year.

    "I came out of it at the beginning of November last year" she says. "I hadn't done it for five years but was asked to do it again."

    She reveals that returning was not a difficult decision to make.

    "I love Liverpool" she says, "and had such a good time last time that it wasn't hard at all to go back."

    Her return marked a bit of a change for the character as well, a big step away from the goody two shoes image of five years ago.

    "Before she was very girl next door" explains Julie, "but this time she was a bit of a bitch so it was something I could really get my teeth into. But nevertheless, I've had a lot of positive letters from it."

    "I didn't know many of the cast because only Tony (Nick Pickard) and Mr C (Bernard Latham) were still there, but I made lots of new friends."

    "This tour is going to Manchester so I will definitely see them when I stay there during the tour."

    Julie has clearly enjoyed her time in the Channel 4 series so I asked her if she would ever go back for a third time.

    "I don't know" she says, "I'd love to go back but when you go as a bitch your character's life span can be over because you have to get your come uppance."

    "They are lovely, lovely people and they work very hard. When I was in it before it was only on for two nights a week, now it's four so it was a bit of a shock at first but you soon get used to it."

    So why does she think that the programme is so popular?

    "Well, there's something for everyone isn't there" she says. "It's full of good looking people and good story lines."

    Nevertheless, despite all the fun of Hollyoaks, Julie's mind is now firmly focussed on the job in hand - a return to the stage in Bad Blood.

    It's not long since her last appearance in the theatre as she was in The Tart and the Vicars Wife last summer before Hollyoaks but she is certainly not complacent.

    "You get the same old adrenalin" she explains, "because it's a different part and a different play."

    And what of Milton Keynes?

    "I've not been before" she says, "I'm looking forward to it."

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