Actress Niky Wardley is best known for her role as schoolgirl Lauren’s sidekick (amongst others) in BAFTA-nominated The Catherine Tate Show. She appeared on stage with Catherine in November’s Royal Variety Performance, could film a third series later this year and will be on screen in EastEnders in February. 2006 is shaping up to be the brightest and busiest year of her career, but she kindly took time out to chat to ScillyNews and answer the question we just couldn’t resist asking: “But is she bovvered though?”

You’re originally from Luton but now live in Camberwell. So what is your connection with Scilly?

My connection with the Isles of Scilly is through my mum Pat, who moved out there some years ago (and now works for the Islands’ Council). I’ve never lived there but have visited many times and am always stunned by the sheer beauty of the Islands. I adore the hustle and bustle of London but fell in love with the tranquility of Scilly on my first visit and it never disappoints. Each time you discover something new and I’m hoping to visit my mum there sometime later in the year.

How did you start out in acting?

I started out in acting when I was at high school. We had an amazing drama teacher called Mrs Patterson and she cast me in my first ever role playing Nancy in ‘Oliver’ when I was about 13. I knew from the very first moment that I stepped out on stage that this was what I wanted to do with my life and I’ve never looked back.

You’ve featured in a variety of TV shows, films and theatre productions in your career, but you’ll be best known to most people as one of the stars of the Catherine Tate Show. How did you become involved with Catherine?

I first met Catherine when we were both in a show for the Royal Shakespeare Company called ‘A Servant to two Masters’ in 2000. It was a long production, National tour then a West End run and then a world tour and we shared a dressing room for most of it, so we got to know each other really well! We were both with the show for ten months by the time we left and have always stayed in touch.

So what’s it like working with Catherine?

It’s amazing working with her on the show, she is probably the most talented person I have ever worked with. Her ability to change character and fully embody all the different people she plays is truly incredible. I’ve learnt so much from her and absolutely love working on the programme. We all know each other so well now, so it’s always a really good laugh.

How is the show filmed and what is your favourite part of doing it?

We film each series over about 8 weeks which usually comprises 2-3 weeks on location and then 6 weeks filming live at the BBC in front of a studio audience. When we get around to the live filming we will all rehearse the sketches Monday to Thursday and then record on the Friday evening. I love the live recordings, especially now that the show is gaining in popularity, as the audience really loves it and the atmosphere is always fantastic. It’s nerve-wracking as not only are you faced with the camera crew but also an audience of a few hundred, but it’s great. I’m a very lucky girl!

You starred in the Royal Variety Performance in November in front of the Queen and Prince Philip. What was that like?

There have been so many highlights in my career so far but I have to say the Royal Variety Show was one of my favourite moments. The feeling when we walked out on stage for the final curtain call was amazing. The entire audience were on their feet and the applause was incredible. I remember standing there looking at the people around me (Shirley Bassey, Sharon and Ozzy Obsbourne, Michael Parkinson, Cliff Richard to name a few!) and thinking ‘My god! What on earth am I doing here!’

I was quite nervous as its such a big crowd and obviously it’s not every day that you perform for the Queen! I got to meet both the Queen and Prince Philip in the line up after the show, shook their hands and did my little curtsey! LWT sent me a photo of myself and the Queen which pleased my family no end! It was manic as there are so many acts there and Catherine and I were sharing a dressing room with Charlotte Church and Katharine Jenkins. Backstage was brilliant, everywhere was buzzing. It was just such a fabulous evening, an incredible experience and one I will never forget.

You’ll be appearing on EastEnders soon, so congratulations! What was it like filming the show?

I have just finished filming my EastEnders episodes which was great. Such a lovely cast! They made me feel so welcome, especially Wendy Richard (Pauline) and Natalie Cassidy (Sonia). I’ll be playing the daughter of a character who’s in it already but am not sure how much I’m allowed to say! My episodes will be screened in mid February, I believe. It came about through the casting director Julia. She’s a fan of the Catherine Tate show and she called me in to audition for another part initially. That part didn’t work out but not long after that my agent got the call about Megan, who is the character I’m playing. I’ve always been a fan of EastEnders so it was great to meet and work with them all. A fantastic start to the year!

I understand you’ve done some writing for The Catherine Tate Show - is this something you’d like to do more of in the future? And talking of the future, what are your plans both in the short term and long term?

Yes I’d love to do some more writing but I’m not very good at it yet! Once again, though, working on The Catherine Tate Show has given me an incredible insight into writing for comedy so I’ll keep trying. As for long term / short term plans, I have no idea! It’s impossible to make plans in this business. You just have to hope that the work continues! It looks as though we may be filming a 3rd series of the Catherine Tate show later in the year but nothing is definite yet. We shall see!

In between acting jobs I work for a fantastic company called Interbrand which is located on the Strand. The people there are so lovely, it’s never a chore going back to work. I’m very lucky to have it as I have a mortgage to pay and you never know when the next acting job will emerge!

And as for whether she’s bovvered or not, no we didn’t really ask!