West Dorset is looking resplendent on our TV screens as Broadchurch has returned to great acclaim. THE GUIDE catches up with SARAH PARISH, 48, who plays farm shop worker Cath, to talk about keeping secrets, revisiting old haunts and putting pen to paper
This is the first time that Sarah, who has also appeared in Mistresses, Hearts and Bones and film The Holiday, has used her real accent on screen.
She said: "I was born in Yeovil, which is just up the road from 'Broadchurch' and I've never got to use my accent - obviously you don't get to use it that much. But I had quite a problem finding it again because I haven't really spoken like that for a long time. I moved to London when I was 17 and went to drama school when I was 19 - by the time I got there, I didn't speak like that."
Sarah has never seen Broadchurch before she got her role of farm shop worker Cath and filmed scenes at the Washingpool Farm Shop at North Allington, near Bridport.
She said: I'm not very good at watching upsetting things and when it first came out, I knew it was quite full-on so I just didn't. I quite like not knowing things, otherwise I get quite affected by what I've seen. When you're in it, you see the technicality of it, so you become emotionally attached to the character, but you see the puppetry of it."
She describes Cath as 'a big fish in a small pond'.
"She was the girl at school that was really good at sport and everyone liked and wanted to hang out with her. She had everything when she was younger, the good-looking boyfriend, everyone fancied her. So she's quite full of herself in a way, [she's] used to getting what she wants. It's an uneven dynamic with Trish [Julie Hesmondhalgh]. It's one of those relationships that Trish will probably do whatever Cath tells her to do. She is the one in charge. I don't think she's a nasty person, but I think she's surrounded herself with someone like Trish because she knows she's a little bit better than her."
Sarah got to work with Sir Lenny Henry on the show, who plays her boss Ed.
"I think Ed [Henry] gets on her nerves, again because she probably doesn't like being told what to do particularly, and she doesn't want to be working at the farm shop. She thinks her husband should be doing a little bit better than he is. They've been together for a long time. They don't have any kids. They were a power couple back in the day, but that has maybe worn off and gone a bit sour."
The Broadchurch scripts are famed for being closely guarded secrets with spoilers hard to come by and it wasn't too hard keeping the secrets, Sarah said
"A lot of my friends would go, 'You've got to tell me, I won't tell anyone, just tell me!' But you've got to be really careful, you can't tell anyone. And there are certain things that obviously it's better not to say because it'll spoil the pleasure for the audience."
Sarah has already worked with David Tennant, who plays grizzled Scottish detective DI Alec Hardy
"This is the fourth time I've worked with David. We did Blackpool together, a thing called Recovery, we played man and wife in that, and then I was the big, red spider in the Christmas special of Doctor Who. The first three times we worked together was all in the same year, so it was getting a bit ridiculous. We've had a good break and now we're back on! Olivia I don't know as well, but I did a thing with Damian Lewis ages ago, called Love's Labour's Lost and Olivia was in that."
Out of all her roles, people most associate her with Mistresses, Sarah says.
"They love Mistresses! It was fun, and I think it just resonated with a lot of women. I'd love to do it again. I think they could come back. Cold Feet has just come back. Maybe they could do a three-parter. That's a good idea! Let's pitch it. Put that in the paper!"
Sarah is thinking about putting pen to paper and having a go at writing for TV herself.
"There's one comedy thing with a director friend of mine we're talking about, and there's another drama piece I have started tentatively researching. But I've never written anything. The hardest thing about writing is just starting. Part of me thinks I will just develop this idea that I have and give it to someone else to write."
Having grown up in Somerset, Sarah regularly visited West Bay, the home of Broadchurch.
"We went there all the time," she said. "In fact the last place I saw my dad alive was in Burton Bradstock, which is just up the road. I came down from London, we walked the dogs together, and then he had a stroke a few weeks later [in 2013]. He always went to Burton Bradstock because there's a lovely cafe on the beach there, and then we went to West Bay and had an ice cream. When I go down there I do get really nostalgic."
Sarah says she would like to play a lawyer again.
"I really enjoyed playing a lawyer in Trust. I really, really enjoyed that. I love those fast-talking, dialogue-heavy shows. I need to do a bit more theatre as well. I was always plugging that I've still got an 'action woman' in me, but I don't think I have any more. I don't think I could get away with the vest! There are always parts to play aren't there?"
There's 'definitely' room for more parts for women over 40, Sarah says.
"I think we're expanding in that there are more parts, [and] more things are happening, especially for women of a certain age, but I do think we still, as an audience, have a problem with accepting women nearing their 50s and their 60s as holding a drama.
"It's a shame really because the demographic of people that watch television are in their 50s and 60S, kids don't really watch telly any more."
:: Broadchurch airs on Monday nights on ITV at 9pm.