Celebrity concierge • March 2015
The award-winning British actress and OBE recipient has filmed all over the world, but her most recent leading role sees her back in the UK for ITV’s TV drama Vera, playing Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope. She visited Uganda with Comic Relief in 2012 and will be supporting the charity for Red Nose Day on 13 March
Where’s the best place you’ve ever stayed?
While I was filming Mary and Martha [in 2013] I stayed at The Oyster Box hotel in Durban. Talk about luxury. It was on the Indian Ocean and had a big aviary. There were also mischievous monkeys leaping all over the place, which provided constant entertainment.
And what’s your favourite UK weekend destination?
We film Vera in Northumberland, and it’s glorious. The scenery is so dramatic – the seascapes, the landscapes – practically characters in their own right.
What’s your favourite overseas restaurant?
I love Capri’s Restaurant in Capri. It’s not expensive, but overlooks the harbour and the food is wonderfully fresh. I stepped inside one bitterly cold day this year and sat down to a big bowl of pasta. It was lovely.
And at home?
In London I like Joe Allen in London’s Covent Garden, because you know exactly what you’ll get. In Ramsgate in Kent, there’s a lovely Thai restaurant called Surin. It’s small and the food is delicious.
Where in the world have you most enjoyed working? I went to Borneo to make The Sleeping Dictionary with Bob Hoskins. We filmed in the jungle, which was stunning, and stayed in Sabah. There was an island in the centre of a huge reservoir - which was where our Hilton hotel sat (above). Each morning I went to work on a boat across the reservoir with incredible surrounding scenery.
What are your three packing essentials?
Comfortable shoes, a good moisturiser and a phrase book. I think it’s important to have a go at speaking the local language when you can.
Why did you get involved with Comic Relief?
Comic Relief invited me to Uganda to see the malaria problem first hand. A child dies from malaria every minute, partly because it can cost a family a month’s wages to take them to the hospital. I saw Comic Relief in the process of training 3,000 health workers to detect the symptoms quickly, using a test that costs less than a cup of tea. It was also providing mosquito nets and promoting the importance of using them at night. And I saw how donations had paid for motorbikes, vital for getting people to hospital and transporting blood for transfusions.
British Airways is supporting Red Nose Day on 13 March through Flying Start, its charity partnership with Comic Relief. To date, British Airways customers and crew have raised £9m for the charity from various fundraising activities, including onboard donations.