ARTS AND FEATURES — 30 April 2013

Holli (left) with co-star, Georgina Campbell

By David Hennessy

This Friday sees the conclusion of ITV’s intriguing suspense-filled murder drama, The Ice Cream Girls. Based on Dorothy Koomson’s novel, The Ice Cream Girls catches up with two women seventeen years after they were both accused of murdering a teacher. The story unfolds in both the present and the past, showing the young teacher, Marcus (played by Martin Compston) start romances with both Poppy and Serena while they are teenagers.

While Serena remains free, Poppy goes to prison for the murder only to be released at the drama’s outset. Serena is also back home after returning to nurse her dying mother and must also confront her past. Both Poppy and Serena have been living with Marcus’ death on the minds for the best part of two decades. Who really killed Marcus?

Shot in Bray, The Irish World caught up with the talented London actress with Irish roots Holli Demspey, who plays the younger version of Poppy, to ask how she enjoyed her time in Ireland? “I loved it, it’s like going home for me actually. My dad is from Ireland (Howth). We were there for three weeks, we were staying in Dalkey and I had family literally just down the road so I got to see a lot of them and meet some aunties that I hadn’t met, they were born in the 20’s and I had never met them, they’re still incredible and they were performers when they were younger as well. That side of it, apart from the amazing job, was also special. I even ended up staying on four extra days while I was over there. I was like: ‘Well, I don’t wanna go actually. I’ll be back first opportunity I get.”

Since appearing on the final episodes of The Bill in 2010, 22 year old Holli has starred in Channel 4’s Derek with Ricky Gervais and episodes of Doctor Who, Holby City, Doctors and Whitechapel.

To prepare herself, did Holli familiarise with the original book? “I decided not to actually just because, my mum bought me the book beforehand, I thought: ‘I know it’s been adapted for TV and the script is very different, I don’t want anything from the book to throw me while I’m preparing. They are quite different. Since then, I’ve read bits and it’s so harrowing but it’s a great read and it’s so well written. No wonder ITV jumped at the chance to make it.”

Jodhi May plays the post prison version of Poppy. Did both actresses prepare together since they were playing the same character? “I did want to gauge the accent because we are the same person. I did knock on her trailer on the first day because I know she’s quite well spoken and we had to get a bit of a level but apart from that, I’m Young Poppy so I haven’t a clue what’s to come. It was important for our young characters (played by Holli and Georgina Campbell) to be quite naïve, we haven’t got a clue that prison and whatever else is lying ahead. The older two (Jodhi and Lorraine Burroughs) are transformed from us to them through what they’ve been through.

“And I had to wear contact lenses to match Jodhi’s (brown) eyes because I’m blue eyed. That would have been a bit of a cock-up if we’d let that one go.”

Martin Compston’s Marcus is sadistic in his use and abuse of both teenage girls and Holli found it even more shocking for coming from amiable Martin: “I kind of almost forgot he was playing this really horrible manipulative (character). It was actually a massive shock when he would go into a scene, he would scare me which is great, that’s what you want but then we’re sitting watching the footie, he’s just Martin again. I thought that was really powerful. I’m sure he did do his own method and went into it his own way but actually it was such a big difference between the two guys. But saying that, Marcus the teacher has a bit of charm and a bit of sweetness to him: He has to to get these girls under his wing. He’s much nicer in real life. He’s the most hated man in Britain at the moment but it’s not true.”

The Irish actor Owen Roe, of Prisoners’ Wives and Intermission, plays Poppy’s stepfather with whom she has a turbulent relationship. Is Owen another man who is very different off camera? “Oh no, he’s horrible,” Holli jokes before adding: “No, no. Again, I watch it back and I mainly remember our conversations off set and getting to know each other, such a nice man. It’s a good job I’m not a casting director because I would think all these guys are too sweet to play the parts they do but they’re very good at them. He was another one. On screen he just looks not the dad you want at all but in real life, he’s lovely.”

For the full interview, see the May 4 edition of The Irish World

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