Suffolk actress to star in new comedy

ACTRESS Alice Henley will be making a dramatic departure from roles in gritty crime films and historical epics this weekend when she stars in a new TV comedy for children.

Simon Tomlinson

ACTRESS Alice Henley will be making a dramatic departure from roles in gritty crime films and historical epics this weekend when she stars in a new TV comedy for children.

Miss Henley, who first trod the boards as a youngster in Ipswich, is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Livia Drusilla in the BBC's Rome.

The former member of the Suffolk Youth Theatre has also played a prostitute, featured in The Bill and EastEnders, and her voice has been used to sell Hugo Boss perfume.


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On Saturday, she will be adding to her diverse CV when My Almost Famous Family, an all-singing, all-dancing musical comedy, launches on BBC Two.

The 11-part series follows the ups and downs of the Swann family who play together in the band We're in Perfect Harmony as they try to become famous.

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Miss Henley plays the “misunderstood” Annabelle, a young star who has her own top-rating chat show on which the band perform.

“I feel sorry for her,” said the 27-year-old, whose parents live in Witnesham.

“Annabelle hasn't really had a typical upbringing. She's been in the spotlight from a very young age and the relationship she has with her mother is more professional than personal.

“She has some nasty moments but it's all a defence mechanism. I think she's going to be a character you love to hate.”

Miss Henley said it was great fun playing Annabelle.

She added: “For one of my scenes I actually got to trash my dressing room! We broke vases, I swept everything off of the dressing table - things you could never, ever do in real life, but you can do as a baddie.

“Annabelle's one of my favourite characters I've ever played as she's so ridiculous.”

Miss Henley was born and bred in Ipswich - attending Witnesham Primary School, Claydon High, Amberfield School and Northgate High School - but now spends most of her time in London.

She returns to Suffolk regularly - even more so since a new arrival in the family.

She said: “My sister (Claire Fiddaman) has just had a baby so I try to come back at weekends. I need to be in London for acting, but I stay in touch with my family and still have friends here.”

Began performing at the age of six, taking her first professional role at 13 in The Railway Children at The Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, for which she received �1.50 per show.

Studied for three years at Royal Holloway in London and a year in Modern Dance at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.

Trained in Chinese theatre, physical theatre, naturalist theatre, and theatre of the absurd as well as masked performance.

Can perform in a number of dialects including cockney, Norfolk, Californian, French and Croatian, and she can speak Italian.

Co-owns a London theatre company called SweetFA.

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