Nicola Walker on decluttering, her girlfriends and new drama, Unforgotten

Last Tango in Halifax star Nicola Walker, 45, is married to actor Barnaby Kay. They have a son, Harry, aged nine.

I don’t have a preferred medium of work but, like all actors, I do like to move from one to the other if possible. My new TV drama, Unforgotten,
follows a police investigation, which is launched by my character, DCI
Cassie Stuart, following the discovery of human remains in the cellar of
a house. She has to really push for the case, because it seems that
these remains have been in the ground for a long time. Cassie has two
grown-up sons who have recently left home for university and there’s a
sense that her life is at a point of real change. Her reaction to her
newly emptied family home is to really dig in at work, she commits
herself to the case and she just won’t give up. Her husband is not in
her life anymore, but she is incredibly close to her Father and I really
liked this relationship, they are very close and very honest with each
other.

I haven’t had much downtime lately, but now I’ve got a chunk, I’m
really looking forward to getting out and about with my family.
We
accepted a long time ago that we’re useless at relaxing holidays – we
need to get out and see stuff. So we’re planning an epic journey by
train and boat and bicycle. It’s ambitious, it involves camping, which I
vowed never to do again after the last time, and in all likelihood by
the end of day two, we’ll all want to throttle each other. Even so, I’m
really looking forward to it!

My two girlfriends from university, Sue Perkins and Sarah Phelps, are both in the business – and are both stupidly busy. We
talk on the phone a lot and try to get out to dinner together, but our
preferred venue is one of our kitchens with a lot of tea. I visited Sue
recently on the set of Bake Off and managed to get a good squeeze of
both her and Mel in-between their filming.

I’m a hoarder, but then when it all gets too much I turn into a ruthless chucker. I’m very good at clearing out and giving stuff away. But I’m equally skilled at shoving things in a cupboard, shutting the door and calling that “cleared up”. I do like a bit of chaos at home, because when you’re filming, your day-to-day is so controlled and regimented. I don’t really have a treasured possession, but I do love my family’s proper old photo album. We all have hundreds of photos on our phones now, but you can’t beat the old albums stuffed with black-and-white wedding photographs and 1970’s Polaroids.

I’m ashamed to say I don’t have an exercise routine. Some days I eat all the right things and go for a run and do some yoga and have a swim and I think I’ve discovered a new me, but then I do nothing for the rest of the month. No discipline! But I like being outdoors and messing around with my family. When you’re filming, make-up send you onto set every morning looking a hundred percent better than when you slumped in their chair at 6am – they encourage you to take care of your skin and I always promise to keep it up when the job ends, but I tend to fail. Sarah Lancashire has the most beautiful skin and she has absolutely no skin care routine… I rest my case.

Unforgotten will air on ITV this September.

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