Atlantis star Sarah Parish on loving Strictly, hating X Factor and playing “evil people”

"I’d like to go to work and bounce about all day, rather than poke dolls with pins or put spells on people"


Have you ever been starstruck?


Years ago I was cast in a film with Stephen Fry. When I met him I couldn’t think of a thing to say. I was so intimidated by his huge intelligence. In the end I went: “Actually, I’ve got to go to the toilet.”

Why did you want to play Queen Pasiphae in Atlantis?

Now I’ve a four-year-old daughter I wanted to do a piece of television for a younger audience and I loved the character. She’s the main villain and she’s got fabulous costumes.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Usually I feel grubby when I watch reality shows but I do like Strictly. It’s a really inspiring show: they’re learning to dance and they look like they’re having a brilliant time.

Could you be tempted to take part in Strictly?

No! I did dance when I was younger but I’m not very good at just being myself; I like to hide behind different characters.

What makes you blush?

Watching The X Factor makes me feel sick. When somebody obviously awful goes on and there might be something wrong with them but they’ve been allowed on a television show anyway: that makes a bit of me die.

What brings a tear to your eye?

I saw The Notebook the other day and was a complete blubbering mess for hours afterwards. I try to steer clear of anything that makes me cry.

What would you ban?

Towie, Made in Chelsea, and Geordie Shore. They’re just unbearable, such a bad influence on people and brain-numbing.

Do you and your husband (actor James Murray) wrestle over the remote control?

We enjoy the same American shows on satellite, but we have completely different tastes when it comes to terrestrial TV. He watches stuff like Top Gear and I like things like The Great British Bake Off, so there’s always a bit of a tussle.

What do you watch with your daughter?

I’m trying to wean Nell off the Disney channel and back onto CBeebies because I’m not convinced the programmes are as educational. I’m currently working with someone whose kids don’t watch telly at all in the week, and I thought: oh gosh, that makes me feel like a bad parent.

What did you enjoy as a child?

I was a Tiswas girl and I loved The Waltons and Little House on The Prairie because the girls would always have really good adventures. Dramas like that used to make me think: yeah, I’d quite like to do that

Who was your first crush?

I thought The Fonz in Happy Days was gorgeous! I fancied Chachi too.

Have you embraced Twitter?

I’m a Twitter convert. For years and years I was one of those people that said: “Oh, I can’t bear social networking and I’m too old.” But now I love reading the little thoughts that people are having; the random insights into their lives.

What’s still on your wish list?

I’m desperate to do comedy. Over the last four years I’ve played a lot of grumpy, evil people! I’d like to go to work and bounce about all day, rather than poke dolls with pins or put spells on people. 

Atlantis is on Saturday at 8:00pm on BBC1