Tell us about your character:
Mandy Goodhue is a big-hearted Geordie prison officer, popular among inmates and wardens alike, who has been working on G-Wing for three months when the series starts. She used to work at Lintworth Prison, then moved to Larkhall’s D-Wing before being transferred. Mandy is openly gay and has a girlfriend called Sandy.
Do you sympathise with your character or have respect for the way they operate?
Mandy is a willing, honest - but accident-prone! - worker who gets on well with her fellow officers. She is fair, good-humoured and trusting with the inmates - who are only too ready to turn her gullibility to their advantage…
Do you share similar personality traits with your character?
We’re both black, Geordie and five foot eight inches tall. We both have a sense of humour and a dirty laugh. And we both adore our women.
How are you different from your character?
Mandy can’t park a car as well as I can, she’s about ten pounds heavier than me and I am a natural blonde.
Would you get along with your character?
She’s warm and fun so I think I’d enjoy her company - in small doses.
If there’s one thing you could change about your character what would it be?
Who does your character get on with best?
Mandy has a soft spot for the two Julies, looks out for underdogs like Tina and has formed an unholy (and unlikely!) alliance with the racist, homophobic Bodybag.
What would be your dream storyline?
There are lots of funny yet touching storylines Mandy could do as she’s gung-ho, up for anything and has a big heart and an endearingly daft streak. I see her as a surprise contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with Sylvia ‘Bodybag’ Hollamby as her phone-a-friend…
What has been your favourite storyline this series?
In one of my favourite episodes, Mandy has the opportunity to bear an uncanny resemblance to one of the leads in Brokeback Mountain…
What would you change about the punishment system?
I would change the way custodial sentences are dished out to women: far too many women in this country are in prison for relatively minor offences like non-payment of television licenses and council tax.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
The worst thing I’ve ever done was voting for the present Government believing it would make the world a better place.
What’s the worst thing you’ve done that you got away with?
When mistaken for the British sprinter Sonia Lannerman in a supermarket by a group of schoolchildren early in my career, I signed her autograph thirty times because I didn’t have the heart to tell them I wasn’t her.
What issues would you protest against at the risk of being arrested?
I would be willing to risk arrest to protest against our country invading or bombing Iran, reintroducing Section 28 or bringing back capital punishment.
How did you react when you got the part in Bad Girls?
I relished the chance to play such a bumbling, humorous and ultimately loveable character as Mandy. Many of the parts I’ve played in the past have been serious, cool-headed, competent professionals, and while I enjoy playing female high-fliers, it’s great to have the chance to be warm and exuberant as Mandy.
What is the best thing about working on Bad Girls?
One of the rewarding things about being part of Bad Girls has been working for several months with a team of cuddly actors and crew. Another has been creating a new character that I hope people will start to care about.
And the worst?
None – but I’ll keep you posted!
What do your family and friends think about you being in the show?
My friends were thrilled when they heard I was on the show because Bad Girls is one of a kind as a primetime drama with strong female characters. My partner loves it because she’s tickled by hearing me bring my Geordie accent back to life!
What do you think about Bad Girls moving from the small screen to the stage?
I was an avid fan of Prisoner Cell Block H for years and then saw it on stage at the Dominion Theatre. It was hilarious – one of the best nights I’ve spent at the theatre. I think that Bad Girls has a similar capacity to become a cult stage musical.
What do you do in your free time?
Thrash my partner at tennis.
Would you do reality TV programmes?
No. Big Brother’s my idea of hell.
If you were in prison for real, how would you make the most of your time?
I would crochet myself an escape tunnel.
If you were in prison for real, what would you miss most?
Cuddling up with my girlfriend.
What’s your favourite TV, film or book adaptation of prison life?
Cell Block H, with The Shawshank Redemption a close second!
Prior to Bad Girls, what roles were you best-known for?
Sandra Ling in Angels, Janice Stubbs in Coronation Street, Brigadier Winifred Bambera in Doctor Who, Councillor Murray in Only Fools and Horses and Mary Seacole.
What was your first ever acting role?
I was a member of the cast of the cult Seventies musical, Hair. And, yes, I got naked.
What was your first-ever job?
My first job was as a waitress in the summer holidays at Ramside Hall Hotel in County Durham, where I managed to drop an elaborate gateau into a woman’s lap.
Where were you born and brought up?
I was born in Leeds and brought up by a wonderful foster family in the mining village of Craghead, County Durham.
Where do you live now?
Near Brighton, in East Sussex.