Charlotte Ritchie might have missed out on Call the Midwife’s Christmas special – her character, newbie nurse Barbara Gilbert, appears in the first episode of series four – but she’s not entirely missing from the BBC’s Christmas programming.
The Fresh Meat and Siblings actress is starring in Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s new radio play Good Omens, alongside Colin Morgan, Mark Heap, Peter Serafinowicz and Louise Brealey.
She’s playing Anathema Device – “a witch but she’s also slightly psychic. A little bit but mainly a witch” – in the fantasy story, that, as Ritchie notes, is a “bit complicated”.
Good Omens has “a huge maze of a plot” so I’m going to let her explain…
“It’s really cool. It’s one of those books that the more you read it the more you pick up. The whole story is kind of centred around the Armageddon. The end of the world and the way it happens has been predicted in a book by this woman, an old witch called Agnes Nutter. Her great, great, great granddaughter – I don’t know how many generations removed – is Anathema Device, which is my character”
“Everything she does in her life has been predicted by Agnes. She’s lived her life by this book of prophecies and it’s led her up to three or four days away from the Armageddon. That’s where you meet her, trying to work out where the Armageddon’s going to happen, according to the quite difficult to understand prophecies of her ancestor.”
Ritchie has a stronger grasp of the plot than I do – “I’m kind of a bit of a space nerd. I like all of that kind of stuff” – and she got the part while reading the novel, which was a convenient coincidence: “It was so strange that the book was written like 25 years ago and I had only just picked it up. I started reading it and a couple of weeks later I got a call saying ‘Do you fancy coming in to do Anathema Device?'”
Radio is a relatively new medium for the 25-year-old actress, but one she’s super keen to do more of.
“I love it so much. I only did two days but it’s just the pace of it. You only get a few goes at each scene. It’s just so fun. You’re in this booth and you kind of have to create this world around you and in your head.”
“I quite like just being able to use the words really and it only really being about that. Sometimes if you’re not saying any lines you can close your eyes and imagine what’s going on. It makes it really quite individual and special for everybody.”
And with Good Omens, as well as shows like Cabin Pressure, Neverwhere – and hugely popular podcast Serial – on our airwaves in the coming days, Ritchie is hoping for a radio revival.
“I hope radio is more popular than it might seem. There aren’t that many radio plays on and I think they have a bit of a bad rep for being not very gripping or low budget or on at funny times. But this one will be brilliant I think.”
Good Omens starts on 22 December at 11pm on BBC Radio 4