With BBC iPlayer series Flatmates starting in 2019, Grace Hogg-Robinson was cast as one of the lead characters Mel and she has recently returned to the set to film for the upcoming Series 2. Last year, Grace appeared in a number of TV roles, which saw her film an episode of There She Goes as Caroline, play Ruth in new comedy series The F1rst Team and have regular characters in Flesh and Blood for ITV and Sky Original series COBRA. Grace also worked on feature film Days of the Bagnold Summer, which was shown at the London Film Festival in 2019 and was directed by Simon Bird. Chatting with Grace, she answers our questions about starring as Mel in Flatmates, her role of Lily in TV mini-series Flesh and Blood and her time working on COBRA.
How was it booking the role of Mel in Flatmates and can you tell us about your character?
It was great! Originally the show was going to be called Lauren and Craig and I did four auditions over six months, so it was a very drawn-out process, but it was absolutely worth it. I was actually having a conversation with a man called Craig about car insurance when my agent phoned me to tell me I got the job… coincidence or fate?!! Mel would definitely say fate, she’s into all things mystic and magical and can be spotted a mile off, thanks to her crazy makeup and hairstyles! She’s the oddball of the group, blunt, upfront and a bit kooky. She also has a way of popping up when you least expect it and unnerving everybody in the process. She’s so much fun to play.
What’s the series like to be part of and how is it working with the rest of the cast?
It’s loads of fun. Everyone is so different, but that’s what makes the group dynamic so interesting and exciting. There’s a lot of banter and a LOT of giggling. When we filmed Series 1 in 2019, Nethra (Tilakumara) and I actually shared an apartment – we really were flatmates!
How has it been returning to set to film Series 2 and what are you looking forward to most for the release?
It was lovely to see everyone again, even in such chaotic and stressful times. We all had to isolate and form a ‘work bubble’. There are some incredible actors joining the cast and I’m so excited to see the audience fall in love with all the new eclectic characters that they play. We have some really big story arcs coming up this series, it’ll be exciting to see them all play out on screen.
You play Ruth in The F1rst Team, what is the character like to play?
Ruth is lovely! She’s a brilliant, dedicated footballer but she also really enjoys her downtime and knows how to express herself. She’s not afraid of taking control and saying how she feels. (I think maybe I should take a leaf out of her book…!) She’s mischievous as well, so she’s really fun to play.
What was it like reading the script for the first time?
I read my episodes a bit out of context initially, but I knew the show was going to be hysterically funny. Then we had a read-through round a big table in London. It was still the summer, so it was a beautiful day, and everyone was so happy to be there. There was such a good vibe and the cast are hilarious, you got a real sense of what the show was going to become. There’s always such huge anticipation at a read-through and it’s so exciting to hear it all out loud for the first time.
What was TV mini-series Flesh and Blood like to film and how long were you working on it?
From start to finish it took about three months to film. It was a truly amazing job, working alongside people like Imelda Staunton is genuinely just surreal. I learnt so much from watching the rest of the cast, they’re all phenomenal. I actually cried with happiness down the phone when I got offered the job!
You played Lily in the series, what was it like working with your on-screen parents?
Lily was a really interesting character to portray, because at seventeen she’s so close to flying the nest, but she still needs a safe home environment and the protection of her parents. Her relationship with her mum is particularly fraught. The atmosphere in that house is certainly not ideal! But Claudie (Blakley) and Keir (Charles) were wonderful to work with. We all used to sit in a room right at the top of the house between scenes and I just remember laughing a lot and feeling really at ease. Also, drinking quite a lot of coffee…
Can you say about playing Tess Marshall in COBRA and what do you remember from your first day on set?
I loved working on COBRA. Once again, I got the most fantastic on-screen parents (Victoria Hamilton and Mark Bazeley), and I get on really well with Josh (Hogan), who plays my younger brother, so it was just a joy to go into work. On my first day of filming, we did a scene where I casually had to open a jar, except there were a good few takes where I couldn’t get the lid off! I was very embarrassed, but luckily everyone just found it funny.
What did you know about the series and character before booking the role and what drew you to the script?
I’d only been given one episode to read before the audition, and I had no idea who was in the cast! On the day of the read-through, I remember walking down Tottenham Court Road and feeling so overwhelmed and excited because I was about to meet everyone for the first time. When I did get sent the rest of the scripts, I couldn’t stop reading because the plot was so tense and explosive.
What are some of your favourite memories from filming as Katie in the comedy Days of the Bagnold Summer?
I actually filmed Days of the Bagnold Summer all the way back in the summer of 2018, which feels impossibly long ago now. I spent a large part of one day sat on a big sofa with the lovely Earl Cave and then about a week later I had to bop around on a dance floor, covered in orange fake tan. It was a really special job, Simon Bird is not only a lovely man and an excellent actor, he’s a brilliant director as well!
How was it filming your episode of There She Goes as Caroline?
It’s possibly the most nervous I have ever been on a job, I was an absolutely enormous fan of the programme before I auditioned and I couldn’t believe I was going to be in it! I’m also a huge fan of both David Tennant and Jessica Hynes, having watched and loved them in too many things to list, so my nerves were sky high. Aside from that, the experience was filled with deep joy. I’d worked with some of the crew before and everyone was SO kind and funny. I didn’t want it to end. If time travel ever gets invented, I’d go back and relive it!
What are you enjoying most about having an acting career?
I adore the people and I love the variety. No day is the same. I really enjoy creating characters and trying to tell stories authentically. Growing up, I never really felt like I belonged anywhere, but now I think maybe that’s something we all feel to a greater and lesser extent. Acting is such an amazing outlet to be able to explore all of those complicated emotions and dig into uncomfortable feelings. I guess it’s cathartic in a way! I also love making people laugh, so working in comedy is fantastic fun.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from your career so far?
I was really over the moon to hear that people connected with Mel in Flatmates, I never wanted people to just look at her and only see what was on the surface, so I’m glad we told her story in the way that we did. I hope people enjoy the journey we take her on in the upcoming series.
I’d also have to say that going to see Days of the Bagnold Summer at the London Film Festival was really exciting, as was going to the big screening for Flesh and Blood at BFI.
Finally, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the people are a huge highlight. There’s something truly magic about being able to perform alongside people you’ve admired for years, it’s a privilege to be able to watch them work. I’ll forever be grateful for those opportunities.
How do you like to spend your time away from acting?
Mostly sleeping, writing, reading or painting. In my spare time, I run a very small art business called ‘She Hoggs the Paint’, I began it during the first lockdown and it’s been really fun. I have a little Etsy shop where I sell what I make. I’ve also got hugely into writing! I’d love to get a comedy series commissioned one day… a girl can dream eh?!
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