In 2020, Hannah Saxby could be seen in the new adaptation of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers as head girl Pamela Worthington and, after its original release on BBC iPlayer, the show went to CBBC and has since been showing overseas. Hannah most recently played Jenny Dawes in an episode of Holby City, which aired in March this year, and has previously worked on screen projects Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators, Creeped Out, Doctors and award-winning short film The Sound. It has been announced that Hannah will be playing Sonia in upcoming short film Transgressing, which is due to be released at film festivals later this year and next. Catching up with Hannah, she talks about filming on set of Malory Towers as Pamela Worthington, playing Jenny Dawes in Holby City and having The Sound as her first screen role.
You played Pamela Worthington in the TV adaptation of Malory Towers, can you tell us about the character and how much did you know about her before being cast?
The character description for Pamela when I was auditioning literally said ‘Pamela is perfect!’ and she kind of is. She’s the head girl of Malory Towers and is so kind, selfless and really supportive of Darrell. I read Malory Towers when I was younger so was very aware of the books but not of Pamela’s character.
How did you find the experience filming on location and what did you enjoy most about being on set?
I loved being on set in Toronto. The sets they built were beautiful and perfectly encapsulated the charm of Enid Blyton’s books. Walking onto them felt so immersive, they were so detailed. It was great working with the rest of the cast and exploring Toronto on the weekends, trips to the supermarket that should’ve taken twenty minutes ended up taking an hour because I had no clue how to get around, but I loved it. On location in Cornwall was just absolutely beautiful and completely idyllic. We had so much fun.
Did you have a favourite scene or episode to work on and what was it like seeing the series in the UK on BBC iPlayer and CBBC?
I think my favourite scene to film was the one in Episode 10 when Pamela explains to Darrell why she can’t continue her education. Ella Bright was so lovely to act with. My family and I all watched the series when it came out in lockdown which was hilarious. My brothers got very invested.
How does it feel knowing the series can now be seen around the world?
Earlier this year, you appeared as Jenny Dawes in Holby City, can you say about your episode and what was it like to film?
I play a homeless teenager who has just given birth and attempted to leave the baby outside the hospital but is admitted after she collapses in a shopping centre. Very dramatic!! It took a long time to do the smallest scenes because of COVID restrictions but it was so nice to be able to be on a set after so long, and the rest of the cast were so lovely.
What was Isabella Duke like to play in Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators and what did you enjoy most about filming your episode?
Isabella was fun to play because she is someone who fronts as a real goody-goody mummy’s girl but then gets exposed as a cheat. It was fun getting arrested! In the episode it’s her birthday and we filmed it on my real birthday which was a coincidence. The crew all sung and got me a cake which was very lovely.
You were cast as Nita in an episode of Creeped Out, can you say about it?
That was the first TV show I was ever in and I remember being so in awe at the fact they had built this set to look like a hotel. And also, being freezing because we were walking around in summer clothes acting as though we were in Australia when really, we were in Manchester in the middle of winter! The cast and I had a lot of fun.
What do you remember most about appearing in Doctors?
My pink velour tracksuit.
An early role for you was as Beth in award-winning short film The Sound, what are some of your favourite memories from playing the character?
I loved filming The Sound so much. It was my first on screen role and the crew were just so, so lovely and the director, Antony Petrou, was so encouraging. When I got the role I was in a phase of deliberation about acting and whether it was something I really wanted to pursue and after filming The Sound I was completely obsessed. It was the best first role I could’ve wished for and such a nice, gentle introduction to screen acting.
You have been announced to play Sonia in the upcoming short film Transgressing, what can you tell us about it?
Transgressing is a short film loosely based on a chapter of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. I play Sonia, a girl struggling to balance her university education with her family’s financial difficulties who is forced to make a sacrifice to try and save both. I’m so excited to film it as independent film is what I am really, really passionate about and the script feels very honest and powerful. Sonia is a girl with really polarizing internal conflicts, so I am looking forward to trying to portray that.
What are you most looking forward to for it to be shown at film festivals later this year and next?
The prospect of going to an in-person film festival is honestly too exciting to think about!
We understand you made your professional acting debut in the National Theatre production of Emil and the Detectives; how did you find the experience?
It was mayhem! It was so much fun and such an amazing experience looking back. One show my hair got caught in someone’s cardigan button and we had to walk down some steps and off stage with me attached to her, haha. I did it with three of my best friends and we had such a laugh leaving school early to go to matinees and being backstage at the National.
Can you say about the production of These Bridges you were involved with?
These Bridges was a production I did with Deafinitely Youth Theatre which is a theatre company which works with both deaf and hearing actors to create bilingual shows in both British sign language and spoken English. We rehearsed for months workshopping and creating a play which would be accessible to both deaf and hearing audiences and it was challenging navigating communicating with a language barrier onstage but incredibly rewarding. It gave me experience devising something from the ground up and a chance to work with a group of really talented deaf actors. I feel really grateful that I had the opportunity to be involved in it.
What encouraged your acting career and is it something you always wanted to do?
I was very performative when I was younger and adored singing, dancing and acting and always said ‘I want to be an actress when I grow up’ without having a clue about what that entailed. Then, after I did The Sound, I got tunnel vision and knew acting was all I wanted to do, though I felt slightly embarrassed and struggled to admit it for a while as I didn’t think it was achievable. But I have decided to just give it my best shot!
What do you enjoy doing away from your career?
I love to cook; I love to dance with friends, and I love to paint.
Have you seen any TV shows or films recently you would recommend?
Happy Valley is what I always recommend. Best show ever. Also, I watched Sound of Metal recently which was phenomenal. Riz Ahmed is my cinematic crush. Also, Phantom Thread is stunning, I’ve got a huge cinematic crush on Vicky Krieps as well!!