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TV Quickfire: Laura Carmichael on appearing in new series of The Spanish Princess

Downton Abbey's Laura Carmichael (34) plays Lady Margaret Pole, a cousin of Henry VIII, in part two or Tudor series The Spanish Princess. We quizzed her about it

Laura Carmichael, left, as Maggie Pole and Charlotte Hope as Catherine of Aragon in The Spanish Princess, streaming on Starzplay

WHERE DO WE FIND MAGGIE AT THE START OF THE NEW EPISODES?

Maggie is back finding her feet in the Tudor court, having been exiled in the last series. It's still painful for her. Her cousin Edmund de la Pole is a political prisoner, in the Tower [of London], so there's a complete guilt in her. Can she be loyal to the Tudors, can she live this life?

AND WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH HER FAMILY LIFE?

Her youngest child Reggie isn't talking and has been completely scarred by his experiences living in the monastery. So she's trying to bring him back into the family and help him adjust. And Thomas More is a new friend to her and helps her with Reggie.

HOW DO YOU THINK THE STORY AND YOUR CHARACTER RESONATES WITH VIEWERS?

It's wonderful to see this time period but told very much from the perspective of the women in the court because I think there's a lot that feels very modern in it. The feeling of them doing their duty, and living within this restricted view of what's available to them as women, I think is something that really resonates with the writers and they write really well for these characters. Whether it's being a mother or finding your voice in the workplace, those are things that are actually popping up, even though these women lived centuries ago.

WERE YOU A HISTORY BUFF PREVIOUSLY?

I nearly did history at uni. I thought that would be interesting. I think it's quite common with actors. There's just loads of great stories. I thought I knew a bit about this period and then discovered I knew nothing.

WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES THE TUDOR PERIOD SO FASCINATING?

Henry VIII is popular history, isn't it? I feel like everyone's got an image of him and his many wives; there's kind of a very macho image of him. The first series was before Henry VIII was famous, and now this series is kind of how he got to be that tyrant that we have that image in our minds of – and you see that from the point of view of his poor wife.

YOU PLAYED BABY SNATCHER AGATHA IN THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS. TELL US ABOUT IT

It's funny, I do feel like in lockdown, I have been recognised in a different way, and people are a bit alarmed. My mother-in-law runs a nursery, and I went with her to work and I suddenly was aware as all the parents were coming to pick up the kids. I was like, ‘I don't think I should be here, I think I'm just going to be freaking everyone out!' But yeah, it's been great. I loved the show so much.

HOW WAS LOCKDOWN FOR YOU?

It's definitely been a weird time. I'm very aware though, in these quiet times, that you're just so lucky to be coming off a job, for all of the reasons, for financial reasons… There are so many people who would normally be able to be working now who aren't. Particularly for people who work mostly in theatre, and for our theatres, it's just a really scary time. So I think for us, coming off the back of a job like The Spanish Princess, you feel very lucky, and then you feel very lucky to be celebrating it coming out. And meanwhile, what's going to happen to the West End, and the regional theatres at large? Who knows…

:: The Spanish Princess Part Two is available to watch on Starzplay now.

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