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Liz Carr: Silent Witness star reveals film role

Liz talks about her first big budget Hollywood movie, grief and representation

Liz Carr has just left BBC drama Silent Witness on a high, after eight years playing forensic examiner Clarissa Mullery - So what's next for the disabled actor and activist?

Hollywood is the answer.

Liz will be hitting the silver screen alongside A-listers including Mark Wahlberg in big budget film, Infinite, set for release this summer.

We like to think it was her seven-year stint on the Ouch podcast which set Liz up for the big time, but 80 hours on BBC primetime television might also have given her the necessary experience.

During that time, Liz explored storylines close to her heart including caring for, and losing, a terminally ill parent, something she personally went through a year ago with the death of her father. This topic, and the way Liz portrayed it, received a big response from the audience, some of whom said it helped them grieve their own parents.

The wheelchair-user also reveals how hard she worked to ensure Clarissa was true to disabled life, "refusing to say lines that were problematic" and making sure the character got decent storylines.

Presented by Emma Tracey - once she wins the battle for the microphone.

Subscribe to Ouch on BBC Sounds or say "Ask the BBC for Ouch" to your smart speaker.

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25 minutes

Liz Carr: Silent Witness star reveals film role

This is a full transcript of Liz Carr: Silent Witness star reveals film role, as first broadcast on 5 February 2020 and presented by Emma Tracey.

LIZ - Hello, and welcome to the Ouch podcast. I'm Liz Carr… [music]

EMMA - And I'm Emma Tracey and I'm actually presenting, not you.

LIZ - What?

EMMA - I know you used to do this but this is my gig now.

LIZ - It's just, Emma, I'm looking for work.

EMMA - Why are you looking for work? What's happened?

LIZ - Ah, word's not got around yet then?

EMMA - No, I've been putting the kids to bed and stuff. What's happened?

LIZ - Do you not watch 'Silent Witness' Emma? I thought you were legally obliged as a disabled person.

EMMA - As I say, I fell asleep with my toddler. What's gone on?

LIZ - Well, Clarissa's left.

EMMA - Oh!

[Jingle: The Ouch podcast]

EMMA - Hello, Liz Carr.

LIZ - Hello, Emma Tracey, this is exciting. I'm enjoying this, being back with you.

EMMA - I'm nervous and excited. I haven't interviewed you before for anything.

LIZ - No. You've been behind the glass as my producer when I used to do the podcast with Mat Fraser, but being here at the table with you. Actually sometimes you'd be a contributor as well wouldn't you?

EMMA - Yes, there is a clip on YouTube of me throwing mince pies at you and Mat Fraser.

LIZ - I still have that injury actually. Yeah, well it wasn't really the mince pie, it was the tin foil casing.

EMMA - Oh my gosh!

LIZ - But it's fine, it's all right. It's amazing what foundation can do.

EMMA - I can just imagine safety now going in for the risk assessments and saying, "Oh my gosh, did we sort that out properly?"

LIZ - Disabled people throwing mince pies. Check.

EMMA - At a man with short arms and a lady with less movement in her arms.

LIZ - A frail-looking woman, With brittle bones. [laughs]

EMMA - They were good times, I'd say, good times.

LIZ - They were the best times.

EMMA - The best times. So obviously you were an Ouch podcast presenter for quite a long time, you've been a stand-up comedian, you did law at university.

LIZ - Chained myself to lots of buses.

EMMA - Yeah, so I would now call you an actor and activist. That's what we tend to describe you as. Is that accurate?

LIZ - Yeah, I think the comedian bit has gone. It's funny, you know, not because I don't think I can be funny, but it's a long time since I did stand up now. And I've never been in a sit com, I'm just putting that out there, weirdly, and I would say actor and that's also what I want to be at the moment, and activism is still there.

EMMA - Yeah. So you've left 'Silent Witness'?

LIZ - I have left.

EMMA - That's the last time we're going to see you in 'Silent Witness'?

LIZ - Yeah, I've left.

EMMA - Why?

LIZ - I know. I know it must seem like a ridiculous decision, you know, and when I see people's responses to, you know, "If anything happens to Clarissa." "If Clarissa ever leaves." "I won't watch it if Clarissa goes." So you become very aware of your responsibility as a character. But why? Well, I made the decision, or I started to, I had the first conversation about it in October 2018, you know, and if you think we're now in 2020. So it was a year or so after I'd done that episode with the care home the care home abuse episode. 'One Day', written by Tim Prager. Amazing. But I'd been in the show then six years and that was my first really proper story. And then we get into the next series and nothing really was happening. So in the last series I was in it a bit more and they had some great wardrobes.

EMMA - I've heard about… I'm blind obviously, but I've heard a lot about your wigs over the years.

LIZ - Yeah, absolutely. And the boots. Lots of stiletto boots. But sort of I was just doing the same thing. And as an actor that just wasn't that interesting. You know, I knew I could do the job well. I knew I could turn up and deliver DNA results by the bucket load. I knew I could give Jack a mouthful and give him a bit of side eye and a few sarcastic lines, but I just sort of went, do you know what, life is kind of too short really not to be doing things that are not filling you with joy and as much fulfilment as you need. And that was where I was at. And of course the irony is that then I've made that decision, we get a new producer who heard what my issues were and why I was ready to go and said, "Okay then, regardless of what you do I will give you the most challenging series that you've ever had." And he's delivered, he's completely… Lawrence Till. I've had the best series, but how perfect to go out on such a high.

EMMA - Yes, you've decided to go anyway?

LIZ - Yes.

EMMA - Two episodes in this series called 'Hope'. And for people who don't know, 'Silent Witness' is about a team of forensic pathologists, it's a BBC One show, a very, very long running BBC One show. And 'Hope' kind of undid me a bit because, can you kind of summarise what the episodes were and then tell me a bit more about that?

LIZ - Yeah, so Clarissa, who's the character that I play, so Clarissa's mum has dementia and she's reintroduced into the programme very quickly at the beginning because she ends up in hospital and it turns out that she has cancer, and quite end stage cancer, and so throughout the episode, which has Clarissa doing her usual job and life goes on when someone's dying. A lot of us can identify with that, but at the same time she's faced with a mother with dementia going through treatment and what should she do and what decisions should she make and how she reconciles, how she feels about her mum and the different relationship they now have. She doesn't want to die because she's been the mum who's always looked after Clarissa and, you know, there's a lot of stuff there that we've not seen before I think about that relationship, of an aging parent with a disabled child. But equally seeing a disabled woman as the carer, or caring for another member… We always see disabled people as the cared for, but here you had Clarissa looking after her own mum as well.

EMMA - What really struck me was the mother daughter relationship and the parent relationship, and how in the episodes you said something like, "Look where I am. Look at what I've done," you know, not in a what I've done despite my condition or whatever, but "Look what you've sort of facilitated me to do."

LIZ - Absolutely, yes.

EMMA - It made me think of myself and lots of other disabled people and their parents if they were lucky enough to have a parent like that. I don't think I can talk about it enough, and I probably don't talk about it enough, the kind of role that my mum has made and my dad has played. Was it something that was real to you as well?

LIZ - Oh, completely. I mean, my parents have been so important in my life, I'm very close to them. And my mum, I just put pictures on Twitter of… Actually we brought my mum into 'Silent Witness' during that episode, because I felt really… You know, this was an episode that touched… I can't tell you how tangible the grief was in the four days when we filmed in hospital. There was a difference about the filming that I've never encountered in my eight years of filming. You know, the crew, everyone, was in a different place. And I don't mean that there wasn't joy and we didn't laugh at things and we didn't just do our jobs, but things felt different, you know? And it really felt like we were part of something special and that we could all relate to. And in terms of my dad, that was interesting, because my dad died pretty much a year ago to the day today, and so when people have praised my performance in 'Hope', and I'm very grateful and I really appreciate that, it's amazing to think how it's connected and touched people, but I say I'm not sure that I was acting, I think I was almost re-enacting and reliving being at my dad's bedside when he died. Because he died in hospital, he had Parkinson's and vascular dementia, similar but different to the storyline. And I actually do feel it as a privilege to be at someone's bedside at the end of their life, as much as it is at birth to be there. That's this unique part of their life. And I think to be able to sit with someone and be with them. So I really had, you know, me and Jo, my wife, and my mum, had sat with my dad with lots of family and friends visiting and played music and been there. So the end scene for me where Clarissa hears her mum stirring and she stands up and she goes and… They're very close face to face and Clarissa is touching her mum's hair and her face, it's like that's what I did with my dad. This episode I just knew what to do, I just felt it completely.

EMMA - You didn't film it long after your dad's death, and your experience is so close to my own that it's kind of hard to listen to actually, but a year on sometimes that's when you need to look after yourself more because sometimes that's when the grief comes and bites you. So just look after yourself.

LIZ - Well, it's been amazing being able to read people's comments on Twitter, I've never had such an outpouring for, you know, the show and for me and the portrayal, and people just saying, "I didn't cry after my parent died but I did during 'Silent Witness'" or "I didn't know what I was feeling but some of the feelings you had I could relate to and now I feel I understand it." I'm getting private messages of people telling me what the show has done for them. And then it's yeah, and I'm remembering what it was like being with my dad and losing him and my own sadness. So it's sort of a catharsis at the moment but it's also a really sad time.

EMMA - But, you know, just to say as well, does it feel great to have people contact you about something that's not about your disability on screen?

LIZ - "What's wrong with you?" [laughs]

EMMA - It's not about "Your chair's really loud," which we had once, we had an email once about your really loud chair in 'Silent Witness' or you know, "Oh, you stood up." Or, "She's got a husband," that kind of thing, it was a real, everybody gets this thing. And also the imagery of disabled Clarissa tending to her mum is really, really, really strong. Did you have involvement in that script, and then when you came in eight years ago they were like, "Right Liz, what will we do with Clarissa?" or did things kind of evolve over time?

LIZ - Well, when you have eight years in a show and you're a popular character and you've become one of the four lead characters you do have power. And it's a smallish show in comparison because there's only four of us who are regulars, so you do get a say, and if you're pushy, like I am and you are very opinionated, like I am, and you want to do the work, like I do. So I will go through the scripts, and in this case, so Lena Rae, an incredible female writer, we rarely in 23 years have had a woman writer, and this was her first time for 'Silent Witness' and she wrote 'Hope'. She loved Clarissa and she pitched the idea, it got made, as you know. But she's also incredibly generous and not all writers feel like that. Because it was so about me and about Clarissa I was able to see the script very early and contributed to it. There are little lines in there that were things my dad said that are in there, so my little tributes that only I know about, and Jo and my mum, but one thing that was really I had to have it in there, was just before we get the very end scene of Clarissa sitting by her mum's bedside she's outside and Max, her husband, is sitting in her wheelchair and she goes over to him and she sits on his knee. That sounds weird now, but she rests against him and she's been thinking and she decides this is it really, you know, to stop treatment. And the phrase that she says is, "I don't know how to do this." And that was everything that I had felt about my dad, I remember absolutely breaking down in the accessible toilet. [laughs]

EMMA - They're the best place to cry in the whole world.

LIZ - Best place to cry and Jo was there, because when you know that the trajectory of someone's life is that it's death, of course, and we know that all the time, but when it's so imminent and you just think, oh my goodness, you don't learn this at school, you can't prepare for it. I don't know how to do it, and that was the line that I wanted in there and she let me do that. And so to see things that you've felt. And then I've had people comment and write to me about that line. That's been really special.

EMMA - I want to talk about the disability related things that you've managed to achieve in 'Silent Witness'. Can we talk about that?

LIZ - Yes. When I was in introduced into the show I think they were so terrified, I mean really, BBC and the show, to the point where there's only five episodes of 'Silent Witness' and I was only employed for four. A week in each, I remember that. And so it always made me think I think they didn't know how it was going to go. What was very clever about Tim Prager who wrote and created Clarissa and Jack, is that he made sure that Clarissa and Jack were very connected. So Clarissa and Jack have this bond, this friendship.

EMMA - So Jack's your colleague.

LIZ - Jack's my colleague who, when he joins the Lyell Centre, he said, "If you want me, you have to have Clarissa."

EMMA - The Lyell Centre's like the lab where all the pathologists do their thing, right?

LIZ - And his agenda there was because he didn't want it to be easy for them to get rid of the disabled character, he wanted to make it even tougher. So if you build a bond it's going to be harder to do that. Very clever, you know, and very canny, because he knew that people were nervous about employing disabled people, and us on screen. So to go from that, I mean that's just the very beginnings, but then I was asked recently if I was proud of what we'd achieved in terms of representation in 'Silent Witness'. Oh my goodness, of course I am. I mean, somebody just casually sitting in my chair. My husband in the show just sitting in the chair.

EMMA - Yes, not a random person because that wouldn't be cool.

LIZ - Not a random person, that wouldn't be good, but you know, those moments that are just so our lives as disabled people. And it will pass by a lot of viewers but if you're a disabled viewer watching it or someone that knows a disabled person you'll go, oh I've seen that, but I've never seen that on TV before. So the work to do all that absolutely I'm proud, but I was also getting quite tired, because I think over the eight years I've kind of policed the show quite a lot and worked to make sure it was better and refused to say certain lines that I thought were problematic and pushed to have storylines and caused mayhem when I wasn't getting storylines and insisted that Clarissa got a partner and that they were created properly. Dan Weyman who's the actor who plays Max, Clarissa's husband, he's the most incredible actor and so perceptive. So we worked really, really hard to make sure that those little moments of intimacy and couple-ness were in there. So yeah, I feel that there's been a lot of work, and then with the odd really good writer like Tim, Tim persisted. Every season pretty much he would write an episode and he was the only one who ever wrote for Clarissa to go out on location. You know, nobody, I didn't move…

EMMA - Do you think the others were, I don't even know how, where would we put her?

LIZ - I really think that's it, I think the risk aversion and the fear and they just didn't know what to do. Tim has a disabled son so he just knew how to do it.

EMMA - Clarissa's just left 'Silent Witness', the episode's just gone out. For people who didn't see it how does she leave? Does she go down a mineshaft, or is she just not going to be there next time?

LIZ - This isn't an episode of 'Skippy'. Which really dates me, sorry. But no, it doesn't happen. I really wanted to be killed off but I think that's because I just was desperate for a storyline. I wanted some adventure and I was sort of fed up with being behind the screen and coming up with DNA results, so I wanted to be killed off and I thought that was quite a brave thing to do.

EMMA - But what actually happens?

LIZ - It's really like we've become one and the same. And so bear in mind Clarissa's just lost her mum, life has changed for her massively and she kind of goes life's too short, I want to spend it with the living not the dead and it's just time for a change, even though I love what I do and I'm happy where I am I just know in my gut this is the right thing to do. And I pretty much gave them that because that was really how I felt, and I said it doesn't need to be a big dramatic mineshaft ending, actually what's quite real is just going, do you know what, sometimes things happen in life and you go, I just want to go out there and take a leap of faith.

EMMA - So you could come back then?

LIZ - Apparently I could.

EMMA - Right, good. I'm going to run out of time without asking the really big question. Now that you've finished with 'Silent Witness' and had eight interesting years there what is next for you?

LIZ - So yes, because part of not being… You know, 'Silent Witness' took up from kind of March, you know the series finishes going out being broadcast in February and then very quickly, particularly in March, you start to have conversations about hair, so for me wigs, costumes, storylines, what's coming up, confirming contracts, all of that kind of thing. And then you start filming in April, I think it's even earlier this year, and then we don't finish till mid-November. So it took a real chunk, you know, it was a big commitment, and part of wanting to not have that was part of my decision as well to leave and see what else might come. So there's things I want like more drama and comedy and anything really. I'm a bit of an experience freak. However, I am going to be in 'Who Do You Think You Are?' which I've just filmed, so you're going to find out.

EMMA - That's the history show where you go round and find who your ancestors are.

LIZ - That's it, where you look at your ancestry. Hilarious.

EMMA - Really?

LIZ - Yes. Things I didn't expect. I don't really like surprises so it's a difficult show to do. But actually there are things that happened that have stunned me and I loved it. And so I've done that, but the thing that I'm really excited about I'm going to be in quite a big film, Emma Tracey.

EMMA - Really?

LIZ - Yeah.

EMMA - Please tell me?

LIZ - Argh! So if I say, I mean I can't even say it without just going oh my god. [whispers] It's a Hollywood blockbuster.

EMMA - No!

LIZ - Yeah, yeah. Like when you get an email going, "The director really likes you and now we just need to see what Paramount think." Ha! I mean, I cried. I'm not even a crier.

EMMA - No.

LIZ - But I was like oh my god, Paramount Pictures. So I am in a film that's going to come out in August, I think, in the UK.

EMMA - Are you going to tell me what it's called? [laughs]

LIZ - No, it's called 'Infinite'. The film is called 'Infinite'. Sophie Cookson is in it, she's just been Christine Keeler in the BBC drama. Mark Wahlberg.

EMMA - Oh! Stop it!

LIZ - All my scenes are with these guys.

EMMA - Oh, my goodness.

LIZ - Yeah, it's a great role. I finished it before Christmas so it's now in post-production, so it's all been done and dusted, which I was really scared something would come in the way because I'm always such a pessimist or a realist, because things often do happen. The audition went brilliantly, right? But honestly, I thought, do you know what, I bet you they're just going to audition wheelchair users and then they're going to give the role to Tom Cruise.

EMMA - That's so exciting. So what was it like filming in…? Were you in Hollywood? Did you film in Hollywood?

LIZ - [laughs] No.

EMMA - No?

LIZ - No. No, we were in West London.

EMMA - Okay, oh damn it.

LIZ - You know, I get my big filmic break and we're in West London.

EMMA - Oh, man.

LIZ - But actually that was fine, because you know what, it was such a big deal. Every day I would go to work and just sort of… You know when you have those things where you're screaming inside, going I'm in a big film, I can't believe it. But really, I'm still like that, you know. I sort of fell into acting and here you go, and without 'Silent Witness', without that experience of 80 hours of TV, you know, I haven't done a lot of other shows at all, so I've gone and had the most incredible opportunity to develop and get better and learn and learn and learn. And there are very few disabled actors internationally who have that experience. And you realise when you do do other jobs you realise what you know. It's chicken and egg because how do we get the experience without getting the opportunity? To them, the director, he doesn't know who I am, he's this big Hollywood director, done all sorts of stuff. He usually works with Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, yeah, and the casting woman is going, "But she's done eight years on a BBC drama, she's done eight years as one of the leads," that, that's impressive to someone that doesn't know your body of work even. Just those words, you know, the BBC has such a great name for drama.

EMMA - Who is this big director?

LIZ - Yes, so he's called Antoine Fuqua and he did things like 'Training Day' and 'Shooter' and 'The Equalizer' and yeah, big action films.

EMMA - Big stuff, big stuff. Okay. I know you've been in like the 'OA' Netflix, you've been in 'Silent Witness'. You've been on the Ouch podcast for goodness sake, but I think one of my favourite things that I've ever seen you in was 'Saturday Kitchen'. You were…

LIZ - Why? Why?

EMMA - It was one episode.

LIZ - It was 2017, so yeah.

EMMA - How did that happen? Because it just seemed…

LIZ - It was chaos wasn't it?

EMMA - Yeah, it seemed wonderfully chaotic. So just to paint a picture, Liz was on the telly while they all cook around her, it's like a Saturday morning live kitchen show, as the name might suggest, and you took over, right? You sort of took over. Can you tell me what happened that day?

LIZ - Well, so 'Silent Witness' was going out at the time, it was its five week stint, but also 'Assisted Suicide: The Musical' that I'd written, we'd just performed it, massive, like 800 audience at the Royal Festival Hall. It was the biggest gig of my life. And in the middle of that gig we had a lot of technical problems. I'm essentially in the middle of the stage and a cast member goes, "We're going to have to stop the show." What happens is then I hold the stage and just chat and do stuff until they get it up and running, right? And if you can do that and then carry on and have the most exhilarating show, forget drugs, alcohol, whatever your buzz is, it was the biggest buzz of probably my career. Now, filming 'Saturday Kitchen' comes two days, three days after that. I don't think I'd come down.

EMMA - No, you were on fire.

LIZ - I was fearless is what I was, and a lot of the time I'm not, a lot of the time I'm quite anxious, so often on panel shows and quiz shows I get massive anxiety, massive panic attacks, so I'm probably not going to do anymore of them, because I sit there thinking I've got to go, I've got to go, I've got to flee.

EMMA - It's not worth it.

LIZ - It's not, I'm not free, right, my mind's running over. 'Saturday Kitchen', it's live, lots of stuff's happening, Matt Tebbutt was a joy and playful and I just had the time of my life. And I remember, a great friend who's sadly died, disabled woman, Sophie Partridge, she contacted me afterwards and she said, "I think that's revolutionary, what you've just done."

EMMA - Yes. Why did Sophie think it was revolutionary? What was her biggest…?

LIZ - Because, you know, you're just on a regular show, 'Saturday Kitchen', people are waking up to seeing that, it's not heavy handed, it's really light, it's very funny, it breaks down so much around disability and fear and who we are. Because very like the episode, 'Hope' that we've talked about, it was everything about disability and it was nothing about disability, and it connected us in a way that said we all experience this, we're all going to lose parents or somebody that we love. And that shared humanity is…

EMMA - We all have to eat.

LIZ - Yeah, is bigger than in a way the fears and the differences between us. And absolutely, and who doesn't like to laugh?

[Jingle: The Ouch podcast]

EMMA - Thank you so much to my guest, Liz Carr. What a lovely chat that was, and what exciting news she's had. I can't wait to see her in 'Infinite' later in the year. I'm Emma Tracey, this has been the Ouch podcast. You can get in touch with us on Facebook on BBC Ouch. On Twitter @bbcouch. And you can email us on ouch@bbc.co.uk.

 

 

Emma Tracey

T @emmajtracey

P 07917458983

http://www.bbc.co.uk/disability

 

Transcript: Silent Witness star Liz Carr lands Hollywood film role

This is a full transcript of Liz Carr: Silent Witness star reveals film role,
as first broadcast on 5 February 2020 and presented by Emma Tracey.

LIZ - Hello, and welcome t

o the Ouch podcast. I'm Liz Carr… [music]

EMMA - And I'm Emma Tracey and I'm actually presenting, not you.

LIZ - What?

EMMA - I know you used to do this but this is my gig now.

LIZ - It's just, Emma, I'm looking for work.

EMMA - Why are you looking for work? What's happened?

LIZ - Ah, word's not got around yet then?

EMMA - No, I've been putting the kids to bed and stuff. What's happened?

LIZ - Do you not watch 'Silent Witness' Emma? I thought you were legally obliged as a disabled person.

EMMA - As I say, I fell asleep with my toddler. What's gone on?

LIZ - Well, Clarissa's left.

EMMA - Oh!

[Jingle: The Ouch podcast]

EMMA - Hello, Liz Carr.

LIZ - Hello, Emma Tracey, this is exciting. I'm enjoying this, being back with you.

EMMA - I'm nervous and excited. I haven't interviewed you before for anything.

LIZ - No. You've been behind the glass as my producer when I used to do the podcast with Mat Fraser, but being here at the table with you. Actually sometimes
you'd be a contributor as well wouldn't you?

EMMA - Yes, there is a clip on YouTube of me throwing mince pies at you and Mat Fraser.

LIZ - I still have that injury actually. Yeah, well it wasn't really the mince pie, it was the tin foil casing.

EMMA - Oh my gosh!

LIZ - But it's fine, it's all right. It's amazing what foundation can do.

EMMA - I can just imagine safety now going in for the risk assessments and saying, "Oh my gosh, did we sort that out properly?"

LIZ - Disabled people throwing mince pies. Check.

EMMA - At a man with short arms and a lady with less movement in her arms.

LIZ - A frail-looking woman, With brittle bones. [laughs]

EMMA - They were good times, I'd say, good times.

LIZ - They were the best times.

EMMA - The best times. So obviously you were an Ouch podcast presenter for quite a long time, you've been a stand-up comedian, you did law at university.

LIZ - Chained myself to lots of buses.

EMMA - Yeah, so I would now call you an actor and activist. That's what we tend to describe you as. Is that accurate?

LIZ - Yeah, I think the comedian bit has gone. It's funny, you know, not because I don't think I can be funny, but it's a long time since I did stand up
now. And I've never been in a sit com, I'm just putting that out there, weirdly, and I would say actor and that's also what I want to be at the moment,
and activism is still there.

EMMA - Yeah. So you've left 'Silent Witness'?

LIZ - I have left.

EMMA - That's the last time we're going to see you in 'Silent Witness'?

LIZ - Yeah, I've left.

EMMA - Why?

LIZ - I know. I know it must seem like a ridiculous decision, you know, and when I see people's responses to, you know, "If anything happens to Clarissa."
"If Clarissa ever leaves." "I won't watch it if Clarissa goes." So you become very aware of your responsibility as a character. But why? Well, I made the
decision, or I started to, I had the first conversation about it in October 2018, you know, and if you think we're now in 2020. So it was a year or so
after I'd done that episode with the care home the care home abuse episode. 'One Day', written by Tim Prager. Amazing. But I'd been in the show then six
years and that was my first really proper story. And then we get into the next series and nothing really was happening. So in the last series I was in
it a bit more and they had some great wardrobes.

EMMA - I've heard about… I'm blind obviously, but I've heard a lot about your wigs over the years.

LIZ - Yeah, absolutely. And the boots. Lots of stiletto boots. But sort of I was just doing the same thing. And as an actor that just wasn't that interesting.
You know, I knew I could do the job well. I knew I could turn up and deliver DNA results by the bucket load. I knew I could give Jack a mouthful and give
him a bit of side eye and a few sarcastic lines, but I just sort of went, do you know what, life is kind of too short really not to be doing things that
are not filling you with joy and as much fulfilment as you need. And that was where I was at. And of course the irony is that then I've made that decision,
we get a new producer who heard what my issues were and why I was ready to go and said, "Okay then, regardless of what you do I will give you the most
challenging series that you've ever had." And he's delivered, he's completely… Lawrence Till. I've had the best series, but how perfect to go out on such
a high.

EMMA - Yes, you've decided to go anyway?

LIZ - Yes.

EMMA - Two episodes in this series called 'Hope'. And for people who don't know, 'Silent Witness' is about a team of forensic pathologists, it's a BBC
One show, a very, very long running BBC One show. And 'Hope' kind of undid me a bit because, can you kind of summarise what the episodes were and then
tell me a bit more about that?

LIZ - Yeah, so Clarissa, who's the character that I play, so Clarissa's mum has dementia and she's reintroduced into the programme very quickly at the
beginning because she ends up in hospital and it turns out that she has cancer, and quite end stage cancer, and so throughout the episode, which has Clarissa
doing her usual job and life goes on when someone's dying. A lot of us can identify with that, but at the same time she's faced with a mother with dementia
going through treatment and what should she do and what decisions should she make and how she reconciles, how she feels about her mum and the different
relationship they now have. She doesn't want to die because she's been the mum who's always looked after Clarissa and, you know, there's a lot of stuff
there that we've not seen before I think about that relationship, of an aging parent with a disabled child. But equally seeing a disabled woman as the
carer, or caring for another member… We always see disabled people as the cared for, but here you had Clarissa looking after her own mum as well.

EMMA - What really struck me was the mother daughter relationship and the parent relationship, and how in the episodes you said something like, "Look where
I am. Look at what I've done," you know, not in a what I've done despite my condition or whatever, but "Look what you've sort of facilitated me to do."

LIZ - Absolutely, yes.

EMMA - It made me think of myself and lots of other disabled people and their parents if they were lucky enough to have a parent like that. I don't think
I can talk about it enough, and I probably don't talk about it enough, the kind of role that my mum has made and my dad has played. Was it something that
was real to you as well?

LIZ - Oh, completely. I mean, my parents have been so important in my life, I'm very close to them. And my mum, I just put pictures on Twitter of… Actually
we brought my mum into 'Silent Witness' during that episode, because I felt really… You know, this was an episode that touched… I can't tell you how tangible
the grief was in the four days when we filmed in hospital. There was a difference about the filming that I've never encountered in my eight years of filming.
You know, the crew, everyone, was in a different place. And I don't mean that there wasn't joy and we didn't laugh at things and we didn't just do our
jobs, but things felt different, you know? And it really felt like we were part of something special and that we could all relate to. And in terms of my
dad, that was interesting, because my dad died pretty much a year ago to the day today, and so when people have praised my performance in 'Hope', and I'm
very grateful and I really appreciate that, it's amazing to think how it's connected and touched people, but I say I'm not sure that I was acting, I think
I was almost re-enacting and reliving being at my dad's bedside when he died. Because he died in hospital, he had Parkinson's and vascular dementia, similar
but different to the storyline. And I actually do feel it as a privilege to be at someone's bedside at the end of their life, as much as it is at birth
to be there. That's this unique part of their life. And I think to be able to sit with someone and be with them. So I really had, you know, me and Jo,
my wife, and my mum, had sat with my dad with lots of family and friends visiting and played music and been there. So the end scene for me where Clarissa
hears her mum stirring and she stands up and she goes and… They're very close face to face and Clarissa is touching her mum's hair and her face, it's like
that's what I did with my dad. This episode I just knew what to do, I just felt it completely.

EMMA - You didn't film it long after your dad's death, and your experience is so close to my own that it's kind of hard to listen to actually, but a year
on sometimes that's when you need to look after yourself more because sometimes that's when the grief comes and bites you. So just look after yourself.

LIZ - Well, it's been amazing being able to read people's comments on Twitter, I've never had such an outpouring for, you know, the show and for me and
the portrayal, and people just saying, "I didn't cry after my parent died but I did during 'Silent Witness'" or "I didn't know what I was feeling but some
of the feelings you had I could relate to and now I feel I understand it." I'm getting private messages of people telling me what the show has done for
them. And then it's yeah, and I'm remembering what it was like being with my dad and losing him and my own sadness. So it's sort of a catharsis at the
moment but it's also a really sad time.

EMMA - But, you know, just to say as well, does it feel great to have people contact you about something that's not about your disability on screen?

LIZ - "What's wrong with you?" [laughs]

EMMA - It's not about "Your chair's really loud," which we had once, we had an email once about your really loud chair in 'Silent Witness' or you know,
"Oh, you stood up." Or, "She's got a husband," that kind of thing, it was a real, everybody gets this thing. And also the imagery of disabled Clarissa
tending to her mum is really, really, really strong. Did you have involvement in that script, and then when you came in eight years ago they were like,
"Right Liz, what will we do with Clarissa?" or did things kind of evolve over time?

LIZ - Well, when you have eight years in a show and you're a popular character and you've become one of the four lead characters you do have power. And
it's a smallish show in comparison because there's only four of us who are regulars, so you do get a say, and if you're pushy, like I am and you are very
opinionated, like I am, and you want to do the work, like I do. So I will go through the scripts, and in this case, so Lena Rae, an incredible female writer,
we rarely in 23 years have had a woman writer, and this was her first time for 'Silent Witness' and she wrote 'Hope'. She loved Clarissa and she pitched
the idea, it got made, as you know. But she's also incredibly generous and not all writers feel like that. Because it was so about me and about Clarissa
I was able to see the script very early and contributed to it. There are little lines in there that were things my dad said that are in there, so my little
tributes that only I know about, and Jo and my mum, but one thing that was really I had to have it in there, was just before we get the very end scene
of Clarissa sitting by her mum's bedside she's outside and Max, her husband, is sitting in her wheelchair and she goes over to him and she sits on his
knee. That sounds weird now, but she rests against him and she's been thinking and she decides this is it really, you know, to stop treatment. And the
phrase that she says is, "I don't know how to do this." And that was everything that I had felt about my dad, I remember absolutely breaking down in the
accessible toilet. [laughs]

EMMA - They're the best place to cry in the whole world.

LIZ - Best place to cry and Jo was there, because when you know that the trajectory of someone's life is that it's death, of course, and we know that all
the time, but when it's so imminent and you just think, oh my goodness, you don't learn this at school, you can't prepare for it. I don't know how to do
it, and that was the line that I wanted in there and she let me do that. And so to see things that you've felt. And then I've had people comment and write
to me about that line. That's been really special.

EMMA - I want to talk about the disability related things that you've managed to achieve in 'Silent Witness'. Can we talk about that?

LIZ - Yes. When I was in introduced into the show I think they were so terrified, I mean really, BBC and the show, to the point where there's only five
episodes of 'Silent Witness' and I was only employed for four. A week in each, I remember that. And so it always made me think I think they didn't know
how it was going to go. What was very clever about Tim Prager who wrote and created Clarissa and Jack, is that he made sure that Clarissa and Jack were
very connected. So Clarissa and Jack have this bond, this friendship.

EMMA - So Jack's your colleague.

LIZ - Jack's my colleague who, when he joins the Lyell Centre, he said, "If you want me, you have to have Clarissa."

EMMA - The Lyell Centre's like the lab where all the pathologists do their thing, right?

LIZ - And his agenda there was because he didn't want it to be easy for them to get rid of the disabled character, he wanted to make it even tougher. So
if you build a bond it's going to be harder to do that. Very clever, you know, and very canny, because he knew that people were nervous about employing
disabled people, and us on screen. So to go from that, I mean that's just the very beginnings, but then I was asked recently if I was proud of what we'd
achieved in terms of representation in 'Silent Witness'. Oh my goodness, of course I am. I mean, somebody just casually sitting in my chair. My husband
in the show just sitting in the chair.

EMMA - Yes, not a random person because that wouldn't be cool.

LIZ - Not a random person, that wouldn't be good, but you know, those moments that are just so our lives as disabled people. And it will pass by a lot
of viewers but if you're a disabled viewer watching it or someone that knows a disabled person you'll go, oh I've seen that, but I've never seen that on
TV before. So the work to do all that absolutely I'm proud, but I was also getting quite tired, because I think over the eight years I've kind of policed
the show quite a lot and worked to make sure it was better and refused to say certain lines that I thought were problematic and pushed to have storylines
and caused mayhem when I wasn't getting storylines and insisted that Clarissa got a partner and that they were created properly. Dan Weyman who's the actor
who plays Max, Clarissa's husband, he's the most incredible actor and so perceptive. So we worked really, really hard to make sure that those little moments
of intimacy and couple-ness were in there. So yeah, I feel that there's been a lot of work, and then with the odd really good writer like Tim, Tim persisted.
Every season pretty much he would write an episode and he was the only one who ever wrote for Clarissa to go out on location. You know, nobody, I didn't
move…

EMMA - Do you think the others were, I don't even know how, where would we put her?

LIZ - I really think that's it, I think the risk aversion and the fear and they just didn't know what to do. Tim has a disabled son so he just knew how
to do it.

EMMA - Clarissa's just left 'Silent Witness', the episode's just gone out. For people who didn't see it how does she leave? Does she go down a mineshaft,
or is she just not going to be there next time?

LIZ - This isn't an episode of 'Skippy'. Which really dates me, sorry. But no, it doesn't happen. I really wanted to be killed off but I think that's because
I just was desperate for a storyline. I wanted some adventure and I was sort of fed up with being behind the screen and coming up with DNA results, so
I wanted to be killed off and I thought that was quite a brave thing to do.

EMMA - But what actually happens?

LIZ - It's really like we've become one and the same. And so bear in mind Clarissa's just lost her mum, life has changed for her massively and she kind
of goes life's too short, I want to spend it with the living not the dead and it's just time for a change, even though I love what I do and I'm happy where
I am I just know in my gut this is the right thing to do. And I pretty much gave them that because that was really how I felt, and I said it doesn't need
to be a big dramatic mineshaft ending, actually what's quite real is just going, do you know what, sometimes things happen in life and you go, I just want
to go out there and take a leap of faith.

EMMA - So you could come back then?

LIZ - Apparently I could.

EMMA - Right, good. I'm going to run out of time without asking the really big question. Now that you've finished with 'Silent Witness' and had eight interesting
years there what is next for you?

LIZ - So yes, because part of not being… You know, 'Silent Witness' took up from kind of March, you know the series finishes going out being broadcast
in February and then very quickly, particularly in March, you start to have conversations about hair, so for me wigs, costumes, storylines, what's coming
up, confirming contracts, all of that kind of thing. And then you start filming in April, I think it's even earlier this year, and then we don't finish
till mid-November. So it took a real chunk, you know, it was a big commitment, and part of wanting to not have that was part of my decision as well to
leave and see what else might come. So there's things I want like more drama and comedy and anything really. I'm a bit of an experience freak. However,
I am going to be in 'Who Do You Think You Are?' which I've just filmed, so you're going to find out.

EMMA - That's the history show where you go round and find who your ancestors are.

LIZ - That's it, where you look at your ancestry. Hilarious.

EMMA - Really?

LIZ - Yes. Things I didn't expect. I don't really like surprises so it's a difficult show to do. But actually there are things that happened that have
stunned me and I loved it. And so I've done that, but the thing that I'm really excited about I'm going to be in quite a big film, Emma Tracey.

EMMA - Really?

LIZ - Yeah.

EMMA - Please tell me?

LIZ - Argh! So if I say, I mean I can't even say it without just going oh my god. [whispers] It's a Hollywood blockbuster.

EMMA - No!

LIZ - Yeah, yeah. Like when you get an email going, "The director really likes you and now we just need to see what Paramount think." Ha! I mean, I cried.
I'm not even a crier.

EMMA - No.

LIZ - But I was like oh my god, Paramount Pictures. So I am in a film that's going to come out in August, I think, in the UK.

EMMA - Are you going to tell me what it's called? [laughs]

LIZ - No, it's called 'Infinite'. The film is called 'Infinite'. Sophie Cookson is in it, she's just been Christine Keeler in the BBC drama. Mark Wahlberg.

EMMA - Oh! Stop it!

LIZ - All my scenes are with these guys.

EMMA - Oh, my goodness.

LIZ - Yeah, it's a great role. I finished it before Christmas so it's now in post-production, so it's all been done and dusted, which I was really scared
something would come in the way because I'm always such a pessimist or a realist, because things often do happen. The audition went brilliantly, right?
But honestly, I thought, do you know what, I bet you they're just going to audition wheelchair users and then they're going to give the role to Tom Cruise.

EMMA - That's so exciting. So what was it like filming in…? Were you in Hollywood? Did you film in Hollywood?

LIZ - [laughs] No.

EMMA - No?

LIZ - No. No, we were in West London.

EMMA - Okay, oh damn it.

LIZ - You know, I get my big filmic break and we're in West London.

EMMA - Oh, man.

LIZ - But actually that was fine, because you know what, it was such a big deal. Every day I would go to work and just sort of… You know when you have
those things where you're screaming inside, going I'm in a big film, I can't believe it. But really, I'm still like that, you know. I sort of fell into
acting and here you go, and without 'Silent Witness', without that experience of 80 hours of TV, you know, I haven't done a lot of other shows at all,
so I've gone and had the most incredible opportunity to develop and get better and learn and learn and learn. And there are very few disabled actors internationally
who have that experience. And you realise when you do do other jobs you realise what you know. It's chicken and egg because how do we get the experience
without getting the opportunity? To them, the director, he doesn't know who I am, he's this big Hollywood director, done all sorts of stuff. He usually
works with Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, yeah, and the casting woman is going, "But she's done eight years on a BBC drama, she's done eight years
as one of the leads," that, that's impressive to someone that doesn't know your body of work even. Just those words, you know, the BBC has such a great
name for drama.

EMMA - Who is this big director?

LIZ - Yes, so he's called Antoine Fuqua and he did things like 'Training Day' and 'Shooter' and 'The Equalizer' and yeah, big action films.

EMMA - Big stuff, big stuff. Okay. I know you've been in like the 'OA' Netflix, you've been in 'Silent Witness'. You've been on the Ouch podcast for goodness
sake, but I think one of my favourite things that I've ever seen you in was 'Saturday Kitchen'. You were…

LIZ - Why? Why?

EMMA - It was one episode.

LIZ - It was 2017, so yeah.

EMMA - How did that happen? Because it just seemed…

LIZ - It was chaos wasn't it?

EMMA - Yeah, it seemed wonderfully chaotic. So just to paint a picture, Liz was on the telly while they all cook around her, it's like a Saturday morning
live kitchen show, as the name might suggest, and you took over, right? You sort of took over. Can you tell me what happened that day?

LIZ - Well, so 'Silent Witness' was going out at the time, it was its five week stint, but also 'Assisted Suicide: The Musical' that I'd written, we'd
just performed it, massive, like 800 audience at the Royal Festival Hall. It was the biggest gig of my life. And in the middle of that gig we had a lot
of technical problems. I'm essentially in the middle of the stage and a cast member goes, "We're going to have to stop the show." What happens is then
I hold the stage and just chat and do stuff until they get it up and running, right? And if you can do that and then carry on and have the most exhilarating
show, forget drugs, alcohol, whatever your buzz is, it was the biggest buzz of probably my career. Now, filming 'Saturday Kitchen' comes two days, three
days after that. I don't think I'd come down.

EMMA - No, you were on fire.

LIZ - I was fearless is what I was, and a lot of the time I'm not, a lot of the time I'm quite anxious, so often on panel shows and quiz shows I get massive
anxiety, massive panic attacks, so I'm probably not going to do anymore of them, because I sit there thinking I've got to go, I've got to go, I've got
to flee.

EMMA - It's not worth it.

LIZ - It's not, I'm not free, right, my mind's running over. 'Saturday Kitchen', it's live, lots of stuff's happening, Matt Tebbutt was a joy and playful
and I just had the time of my life. And I remember, a great friend who's sadly died, disabled woman, Sophie Partridge, she contacted me afterwards and
she said, "I think that's revolutionary, what you've just done."

EMMA - Yes. Why did Sophie think it was revolutionary? What was her biggest…?

LIZ - Because, you know, you're just on a regular show, 'Saturday Kitchen', people are waking up to seeing that, it's not heavy handed, it's really light,
it's very funny, it breaks down so much around disability and fear and who we are. Because very like the episode, 'Hope' that we've talked about, it was
everything about disability and it was nothing about disability, and it connected us in a way that said we all experience this, we're all going to lose
parents or somebody that we love. And that shared humanity is…

EMMA - We all have to eat.

LIZ - Yeah, is bigger than in a way the fears and the differences between us. And absolutely, and who doesn't like to laugh?

[Jingle: The Ouch podcast]

EMMA - Thank you so much to my guest, Liz Carr. What a lovely chat that was, and what exciting news she's had. I can't wait to see her in 'Infinite' later
in the year. I'm Emma Tracey, this has been the Ouch podcast. You can get in touch with us on Facebook on BBC Ouch. On Twitter @bbcouch. And you can email
us on ouch@bbc.co.uk.

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