The Cockfields: Sarah Parish interview

Equally at home in drama and comedy, Sarah is a versatile actress whose work spans everything from Peak Practice, Hearts and Bones and Cutting It to Doctor Who, Merlin, Trollied and W1A. We caught up with Sarah to find out more about her character, the self-obsessed Melissa in The Cockfields.

The Cockfields: Sarah Parish interview

What is your character Melissa like?

She's a bit of a madam. She's spoiled, works in fashion, she's lived in London for a long time and has now moved to the Isle of Wight to be with Larry but it is just not happening for her there. She can't just pop down Sloane Street any more, so everything is very stressful for Melissa and she feels very sorry for herself.

She's one of those people who makes everything about her in a quite passive aggressive way. I wouldn't want her at my party.

What's her relationship like with Simon?

I think she really suffers the whole experience of having to go to Simon's 40th party. She turns up horribly hungover and immediately she needs to go off to have a sleep, then she can't eat anything, and she doesn't like egg and there is egg there. She's just a nightmare really.

What is her relationship like with Nigel Havers' character Larry? She must love him to move to the Isle of Wight for him...?

She does love Larry. She's been a bisexual all her life and she hasn't been with a bloke for ages - Larry doesn't know whether to take that as an insult or compliment! She'll probably settle down with Larry. He has money, he's a good looking, older man and so she's going to do the country thing. She'll do her best despite the fact she thinks his family are freaks and has nothing to say to them.

What has it been like working with Nigel Havers?

Really lovely. I have always loved Nigel. I had never met him so it was exciting to meet him and he is so funny, and such fun to have on set. We all get on very well. I think it's a family unit that works really well. It wasn't the easiest shoot. When Joe planned it I think he thought it would be a balmy summer, but it rained every day. It was quite stressful: I was wearing all white, trying to not get dirty in the rain during this garden party scene! But it was a great experience.

You're obviously known for W1A as well as straight roles. Do you love doing comedy?

I do love comedy because it's more challenging. I like creating characters who are quite extreme and then pulling them back into reality. It's about pushing that boundary a little and put them in a comedy scenario. It's challenging. I like to go: comedy, then drama, comedy, drama.

We've all been in that position of introducing a partner to the family. Did it resonate with you?

Not in a bad way, because my parents were pretty cool so anyone who came back would have a good time! But I've been on the other end of having to go to other people's houses and it being awkward where the party hasn't gelled. I didn't recognise the specific scenarios we've done here - luckily!

How long can you last with your family before you feel like you're going a little nuts?

I don't have a mum or dad any more, but my sister and brother I could probably spend a lot of time with. They're much older than me and have older kids and we all get on very well. We have never gone on holiday together, though. I can't imagine us being stuck in a house together. I like to think we would all get on very well but you never know.

David has this obsession with hunting celebrities in the show. Have you ever done that?

I loved Donny Osmond but I never got to meet him. When David Cassidy would come on the TV I used to kiss the screen. Those were the days when there was loads of friction on the TV so your hair would stand up! I don't think I got anyone's autograph because I don't think anyone famous ever came to Yeovil. I did my stalking in front of the TV.

Have you ever experienced weird encounters with fans?

A little. You can go to those conventions and sometimes you can meet some people who are pretty intense with their love which is very sweet, but...!