Since appearing in The Secret of Crickley Hall mini-series at the beginning of her screen career, Fern Deacon has filmed for many more roles including Call the Midwife and Fungus the Bogeyman. Fern has been playing Chloe Voyle in Ackley Bridge since the start of Series One, and will be continuing her role in the upcoming fourth series airing on Channel 4 later this year. Fern also stars as Agnes in hit CBBC drama Hetty Feather, which she joined in 2017, and will soon been appearing as Georgina Winthorp in the future film release of Black Beauty. Speaking with Fern, she talks about joining the cast of Hetty Feather, being part of Ackley Bridge and playing the role of Chloe.
You play Agnes in Hetty Feather, what is she like to portray?
I’ve enjoyed playing Agnes as there are many sides to her. She’s a very bossy, headstrong character but deep down she’s also very caring and wants to be loved. She covers her insecurity by consistently eye rolling and telling off Hetty. It’s been so much fun to portray her as she also has some quite comedic lines and it’s always fun to play a character that is not liked by everyone but hopefully viewers like in the end and realise all she wants is others’ approval and love.
What did you know about Hetty Feather before being cast in Series Three?
I originally went to an audition for the first series of Hetty Feather. I’d been a fan of Jacqueline Wilson for years. So, I was very excited to audition. Unfortunately, the first time round I didn’t get the part but flash forward two years and the role of Agnes came up so I auditioned and started playing Agnes soon after!
How has it been filming for a CBBC show?
It’s been great to be a part of a CBBC show. What’s amazing is how brilliant the writing is for all children’s shows across CBBC. It’s been great that Hetty Feather has been able to reach a variety of generations even though it’s on a children’s channel. It’s been lovely to be a part of long-running series like Hetty Feather. And it’s been great to really feel part of a team and to have the ongoing support of CBBC.
What do you enjoy most about being part of Ackley Bridge?
Ackley Bridge has just been a wonderful show to be a part of. It’s been brilliant to work with a large cast and a lot of actors my age. I’ve learnt so much over the past three years about myself, acting and other cultures. But I’ve also had so much fun and made some lifelong friends.
How have you found playing Chloe Voyle and working with Liz White, who plays your on-screen mother?
Chloe Voyle has been great fun to play. She is the total opposite of me at school. Chloe is such a rebel and very outspoken. She’s always pushing the boundaries (which I would have been terrified to do at school!), so it’s been really enjoyable to play such a moody, brooding teenager. Working with Liz White has been amazing, she’s such a wonderful actress and I feel very fortunate to play her daughter!
How did it feel on set for the first day of filming and being in an original cast?
I was absolutely terrified. I’d been on a night shoot for something else the evening before down in London and then started in Halifax the next morning. I was so nervous about it as this was my first recurring role in a drama series and I didn’t want to mess it up! But everyone was so welcoming and friendly. Within a couple of days of shooting it was like we’d all be friends for years. I think being in an original cast as well has been really amazing as I started in Ackley when I’d just turned eighteen and now I’m twenty-one, so I’ve spent my “Uni” years really with my cast mates at Ackley. And I’m happy to say it’s probably been the best three years of my life.
Why do you think the show has proved popular amongst viewers?
I think it’s proved popular amongst viewers as it’s tackling subjects that not many other pre-watershed shows have done. It shows how divided and misunderstood many are when faced with people/friends/students that have different views and beliefs to their own.
What was it like playing the role of Catherine Davis in The Trial: A Murder in the Family?
Playing Catherine was unlike any other job I’d done before. As it was a completely fictional Murder case but on trial with a real-life jury and jurors. It was an extremely exciting show to be a part of. We shot a lot of footage with real life police officers which was an amazing experience.
You’re currently filming for Black Beauty as Georgina Winthorp, how was it meeting the cast and crew for the first time?
Again, it was very nerve-racking as we started shooting straight away so I met all the cast on set with my very first scene. It was very surreal to work with such an experienced, talented cast, I was quite anxious to work with such big names in the industry, but they were all so welcoming and friendly and so much fun to work with.
How is it filming away from the UK?
It was such a brilliant experience to film in South Africa. I’ve never really travelled for work outside of the UK so to get the opportunity to go to South Africa and for work was a dream come true. It was very exciting to be in a new place and to experience a new culture, but on set it’s very similar to shooting in the UK. Except for the weather!
What do you look for in a script?
I love reading scripts that are gripping from the get go and I love it when characters are put in unexpected situations. I like a variety of scripts and as long as the characters are well-developed and all their actions justified for the story, I think those elements make a great script.
How did your acting career come about?
My parents enrolled me on some Saturday acting classes when I was young to help get my confidence up and I really enjoyed it. So, I threw myself into all my school productions, I then joined my local Amateur Dramatics group and got the buzz for performing. At this time, I was looking for a senior school and I came across Sylvia Young. And my heart was set on it. After three auditions I won a place to study and I started acting professionally from there on.
How was your time training at Sylvia Young?
It was a great six years of hard work and dedication. But it was also incredibly rewarding. The standard of academic and vocational education is brilliant. They really do prepare you for work in the performance industry to a very high standard. I feel very fortunate to have been able to train there.
What are your career plans for 2020?
I shall be going back for Series Four of Ackley Bridge which we start filming in March for two months, and from there onwards, I’m not sure what the rest of 2020 holds!
Fern Deacon is represented by David Lazenby at Vivienne Clore http://www.vivienneclore.com
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