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Thursday, 6 September 2018

On the Set of No Offence with Saira Choudhry

We're on the set of the third series of Channel 4's hit crime drama No Offence. Chatting with key cast about the upcoming run.

Read our chat with Joanna Scanlan
Read our Chat with Alexandra Roach
Read Our chat with series newcomer Lisa Mcgrillis
Read our chat with Elaine Cassidy
Read our chat with Will Mellor

I'm on the set of Channel 4's No Offence as the cast film scenes for the third series. Saira Choudhry sits before us with her lunch on her lap having been whisked away to perform press duties but any vain attempts to actually eat it are soon forgotten.


She plays the confident and brassy PC Tegan Thompson and we need to know if she's still going to be a force? "Yes, she's still a force! She's got a lot this series and I'm really happy about it. I'm also really happy I get to work with my daughter. Leah is playing a teenage girl who has a goat! She auditioned about three weeks ago. She's only done one job before this so it's a massive thing for her. I feel blessed being able to work in the same scene, Not many actors get that in a lifetime.  We've not shot the scene yet but I'm a great lover of animals so it should be fine!" Yes, it's the goat scene crime drama never knew it needed. Let's just say, you won't want to miss it.

Acting is obviously in the family blood. "I've got my own drama school called 'TV Talent'. It's for kids in Manchester and they come in a do some supporting artist work in one of the episodes. It was great for them to spend a day on set and experience what it's like. it was a great day for everyone. I got so many messages from parents and children saying how brilliant it was to experience it and meet the cast."

What's in store for Tegan this year? "My relationship with Stuart is still going, that's always up and down and we have some issues that go on as well. I think they work because they're such opposite energies and they don't work for the same reason. Tegan probably needs to give Stuart a bit of a break! She's hard on him but I think he likes it!" Away from romance, is there fun to be had on the mean streets? "I've got some really exciting stuff for episode six which I'm really looking forward to. Tegan gets into a bit of danger. It's probably one of the biggest challenges I've faced in my career. I'm really excited about it, there's some really heavy stuff. The action stuff is what I love most to be honest. The fast cars and chasing criminals around. it's exciting."

What do you like about playing Tegan? "Her strength, she's very good at her job. I like the fact she's quite feisty. Sometimes she says things without thinking. She's very ambitious and looks up to Deering because she's such a force. Tegan sees herself as a younger version, someone who's going to grow into that."

The series is notorious for being open-minded and brave, do you feel that's missing from most television? "I think this show offers diversity. I don't think it pigeonholes anybody or goes into stereotypes. We need to be more open-minded and just see people as people and represent that as well. I think this show does. When I first got into acting I got asked to do these roles that were stereotypical Asian girls. I was totally against it because for one I'm mixed race, my mum's Irish and my dad's Indian. That in itself was an experience, my whole life was like East Is East! I refuse to do that and I think it's our responsibility as actors, writers and producers to show the real world how it is."

"I was at college when I had Leah and I took a couple of years out and went back to uni because I thought it was never going to stop me doing what I was going to do. i went back to uni and did a course on TV and radio and then realised I wanted to be in front of the camera so I left there and went to a place called 'Manchester School Of Acting' for six months and got an audition for Hollyoaks which was my first job and I was there for three years! I can still say it's a great training ground."

She went on to form her drama school when leaving Hollyoaks. "I was twenty-five but playing fifteen-year-olds! I used to get a load of teenagers following me around the supermarket asking "how did u get in telly?!" I thought there's a demand for this, people want to know. I hired the local leisure centre and was absolutely inundated. I started to really enjoy it so opened one up on the other side of Manchester and there's now six. Whenever I'm not filming I will be there to teach but our drama school is all about creating confidence. It's not all about acting, it's about them believing in themselves."

Shooting locally certainly brings an air of nostalgia as Saira is one of the only main cast members who doesn't need to put on an accent. "This is a brilliant job for me as I only live ten minutes from here. I get to work for five months and go home to my life which I think is important. .Location filming to me is quite special as it's in Manchester. It might be where I've been to college, where I first went for a drink or near a friends house. I remember shooting on a market in series two and I went to that market when I was eight with my Nana, I never thought at eight I'd be shooting here. It felt special."

Is police work something you could see yourself doing? "The police do an amazing job and risk their lives every day and we don't really think about that. I'm not that brave. A lot of our supporting artists are either still in the police or ex-police and they tell us everything we need to know. They do it a lot better than me though. I remember when I first put the uniform on in series 1 I felt like G.I. Jane but now when I put it on it's like putting on Tegan's skin. It just feels right." We leave Saira to have a second attempt at lunch before putting Tegan's skin back on.
Contributed by Michael Lee

No Offence returns Thursday 13th September 9.00pm on Channel 4

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