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Actress voices race row fears

PUBLISHED: 18:08 08 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:46 02 March 2010

SUFFOLK actress Helen Fraser has spoken of her fears that she may be mistaken as a racist.

Helen plays senior prison officer Sylvia Hollamby in cult ITV1 series Bad Girls and in the sixth series of the show, which starts on April 14, is seen making strong racist remarks to a black inmate.

SUFFOLK actress Helen Fraser has spoken of her fears that she may be mistaken as a racist.

Helen plays senior prison officer Sylvia Hollamby in cult ITV1 series Bad Girls and in the sixth series of the show, which starts on April 14, is seen making strong racist remarks to a black inmate.

Helen is concerned that some viewers will confuse fiction with reality and will not be able separate her from her character, who is known by the prison's inmates as Bodybag.

In a recent interview she said: "There was a particularly difficult scene for me in which Bodybag racially abuses new black inmate Darlene.

"When we filmed it there were lots of black extras watching and I had terribly insulting lines to say. They gasped when I said them and I had to explain it was just the script, not me."

She added: "I hope people recognise that it's Bodybag who is racist, not me.

"At least in the series she does get her comeuppance as she is sent on a course to get rid of her racist prejudices."

Helen has played battleaxe Bodybag since Bad Girls, a series about fictional women's prison Larkhall, first began in 1999 and has created much bad-feeling among the inmates in that time.

But she has also won a number of television watching fans. Helen added: "Bodybag's popular with both gay men and lesbians. I haven't worked out the appeal but it must be the uniform and keys I guess."

Although Helen is known and recognised today for her Bad Girls role she has enjoyed a successful career with a number of notable credits to her name.

She starred in seven series of Dick Emery and The Two Ronnies and appeared as Jack Duckworth's clairvoyant Magenta in Coronation Street. And on the big screen she has appeared alongside Tom Courtney in Billy Liar and Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist.

But when she's not working on locations, Helen loves nothing more than to return to the quiet and solitude of her north Suffolk home.

n Helen Fraser plays Sylvia Hollamby in Bad Girls which is back on ITV1 on Wednesday, April 14.

N Do you have a story of someone confusing fiction with reality? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk


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