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Sarah Parish - Back in Cutting It

Allie Henshall sent shockwaves up and down the country when she walked out on husband Gavin Ferraday for serial womaniser Finn Bevan at the end of the first series last year. “Allie had to take a leap of faith,” explains the popular actress.

Sarah Parish received some criticism for her character’s behaviour, but one viewer with a passion for the series made an unforgettable impression. “I was hit over the head with a handbag by some woman in Hampstead who said: ‘How could you do that to poor Gavin!’” laughs Parish. “It’s horrible to break someone’s heart, especially someone as nice as Gavin,” says Somerset-born Parish.“But Allie just had to know whether it would work out with Finn. Gavin might be fantastic,but Finn was her first love, he was the one who got her pregnant, and is the father of her daughter, Ruby. I think when you have a child with someone it bonds you together whether you like it or not. You might even hate that person, but you have this common bond.Allie has never gotten over that.”

Following recent roles as a mother in both Cutting It and the legal drama Trust, is Sarah feeling a tiny bit maternal? “No way!” she laughs with mock defiance. “I think before I started to play mums I felt quite broody, but I’m not any more. I go through stages, and I think a lot of women do when they’re in their thirties. One day I think I’d love to have a kid, then another day I’d be sat in a restaurant with a screaming kid behind me and thank my lucky stars that I haven’t got one.

“I’m single and enjoying it,” she continues. “I’ve never really been single before, it’s funny getting used to it. I saw a few people last year but nothing serious. At times, it’s quite difficult trying to get used to enjoying my own company. I feel at a loose end a lot of the time. I feel that I should be doing something, but when you’re relaxed about it, it’s a great feeling of freedom – very liberating. I’m reluctant to get back into a relationship at the moment because I’m having a really nice time.”

Enjoying life and having a good time includes partying until late with close friend and co-star Amanda Holden, who plays on-screen rival Mia Bevan.The pair have been supportive of each other following the break-up of their high-profile relationships. Sarah split with actor Hugo Speer last year and Amanda’s marriage to comedian Les Dennis ended last December. “We’ve both been through some tough times together and I know that I can ring Amanda and she’ll be there. I’ve been in trouble before and she’s been there and I would do the same for her.
“I think Amanda and I will be friends for a very long time,” says Parish, who has recently returned from a week in Barbados with best pal Amanda. “I have lots of best friends, and Amanda is definitely my best friend at work. I feel quite safe when
she’s there. We had the most fantastic time in Tuscany a couple of years ago. It was my birthday while we were out there and Amanda sent me off for a few hours. When I came back, the friends we were staying with were dancing around in the garden singing the Steve Wonder song Happy Birthday To You. Amanda had put lanterns in the trees, rose petals all over a table and candles in the swimming pool. There was a big birthday cake and I cried.”

The RTS award-winning actress, who first found fame as the face of Boddingtons, claims filming the first series went past in a bit of a blur. “I sometimes wonder how we got any work done on the first series. We all got together before filming started on
the second series and agreed that we wouldn’t party as hard as we did last year,” she laughs. “We get on fantastically well to the point that we went away at Christmas together.”

Sarah reveals why one member of the Cutting It family was the luckiest man in the country: “Wednesday nights started off as a polite night round at my flat with a few crisps, a couple of olives and a glass of Frascati. They ended up as these huge Sex And The City nights where we’d turn up wearing sexy lingerie and high-heeled shoes!
Ben Daniels, who plays Finn, was an honorary member of our girlie nights-in. He was one of the most privileged men on the planet,” she roars.

One of the busiest actresses on British television, with starring roles in Unconditional Love, Trust, Sirens, Impact and Cutting It under her belt in the past year, Parish is facing her biggest challenge to date. “I’m playing a man in Reversals alongside Marc Warren!” says the sexy TV star. “So I’ll be swapping my hair extensions for a short male wig,” she giggles.

BBC April 2003