Q&A: Olivia Williams – “I’ve had no TV for months”

The TV star without a TV would like to put BT on the naughty step


What do you like to watch when…


Can I just interrupt? This whole interview is very tricky because I haven’t had a TV since 4 December. I’ve had no television for five months because BT is incompetent. I’ve not been able to get a sensible answer from BT as to a reason why, and I don’t have time to sit on a phone for an hour a day and talk to someone who starts telling me to press buttons on a blue box in my room. I just think this needs to be recorded in an important publication that I don’t think my rights are being met.

So you can’t watch yourself in new drama Case Sensitive…

No, I can’t. This is shocking. If you could make it the headline at the front of the magazine? Name and shame. I want heads to roll.

OK. Which TV show would you take to a desert island?

I did a show called Dollhouse and it was written by Joss Whedon. It is to my shame that when I worked with him I’d never seen his masterpiece Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I’d take all seven series of Buffy and educate myself in the art of Joss Whedon. 

What’s your guilty TV pleasure?

There are two of them, both terrible and both involving objectionable men. I went into labour watching the final of The X Factor two years ago, so objectionable man number one is Simon Cowell. And when I’m abroad and I have a telly in a hotel that works – they don’t seem to have any problems with BT there – I’m afraid that I quite enjoy Top Gear. With another objectionable man. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you who it is. 

Who from TV or radio would you like to take for dinner or a drink?

Ian Hislop. I met him very briefly – he came up to me very sweetly at the Empire awards and said he was a fan of my portrayal of Cherie Blair in The Ghost. I didn’t get a chance to gush back, but I’m a complete Have I Got News for You addict.

First TV personality you fancied?

Noel Edmonds, of course. From Swap Shop. I loved him. Maybe it was a father-figure thing. I was very young. But he lost it for me around the time that poor person died on his show. The magic disappeared.

Which TV personality have you met who wasn’t the same in the flesh as on screen?

I met Supernanny Jo Frost, who was warm and lovely. I’m a big naughty-stepper. My husband and I naughty-step each other. Since I turned 42, I now do 42 minutes on the naughty step. It’s hard, man. He’s a year younger than me so he only gets 41 minutes. It’s that last minute that’s the killer.

Who do you like to wake up to and go to bed with on the radio?

I set the alarm with Radio 3 and I am passionate about the World Service at night. But all day in between is Radio 4.

Which was the last film you walked out of ?

Star Trek III, probably 15 years ago. I was just bored, I don’t normally do it. Something has to be pretty shocking for me to spend eight quid then walk away from it.

What would we see on your website favourites?

Being an actor, I’m constantly scrolling through IMDb. I look at other people and, of course, myself – I’ll come clean there. Generally, I’m checking my popularity rating.

Can you tell us what your rating is today?


I’ve plummeted to somewhere around 946.