Amanda Abbington: “I become more aware of sexism in our industry as I get older”

"It's important to shout about it"

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What have you recently enjoyed on TV?

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I love Louis Theroux and David Attenborough. I liked The Fall. And Stranger Things – my kids watched it too and we all fell in love with it.

Do you watch TV on the iPad?

I sometimes watch a good film or drama in bed, after the kids have gone to sleep. That’s my golden time: drinking a cup of tea and wearing a lovely pair of bed socks.

Will you be watching Sherlock?

I will be watching! I’ve already seen it but I’ll watch it with the kids. They know what’s going to happen, and they’re very excited.

Might there be a glass of wine involved while you watch?

Oh yes, I’ll have a glass of wine, and probably a plate of “picky bits”, as we call it – Christmas leftovers with plenty of cheese.

And what’s the view?

We’ll have an open fire and I’ll be on the sofa with the dogs and kids. I love my sitting room. We live in a cottage so it’s quite countrified and cosy. It’s a bit shambolic but I’m not one for sharp edges and clean lines. And next to the TV is a big skull print by John Pinkerton, who made the original one that features in Sherlock’s flat. So we have a constant reminder.

Your character Mary is a trained assassin, and you’ve become something of a feminist icon since playing her…

Have I? I hope I have. I become more aware of the sexism in our industry as I get older and I think it’s important to shout about it.
 My daughter wants to be an actress and I don’t want her to ever feel like she has to do something she’s not comfortable with.

I remember working with a lovely actress once and there was a bit in the script where she had to put her hand in her shirt and touch herself and I said to her, “You don’t have 
to do that.” You don’t have to be obtusely sexy just because a male director tells you to. It’s exploitative.

Don’t you feel there is a place
 for sex on TV?


I had to do a sex scene in a thing called Men Only when I was younger, and I wish I hadn’t. Of course there’s a place for it, because people do have sex and they enjoy it. I’m not a prude. But I don’t like it when it’s a woman being naked for the sake of it.

What else makes you turn over?

Gratuitous violence. And I don’t like things like Towie. I don’t really understand the point of it. I like some reality shows; I like The Apprentice. I used to watch Big Brother but it started to upset me because they were all so horrible. My motto is, “Be nice to each other”.

Do you tweet while watching?

I love Twitter. I sometimes say quite controversial things that make people cross and that’s fine as long as you don’t take it too seriously. It can be a place for bullying and trolling, so I treat it as a fun tool that allows you to connect with other people.

Who do you enjoy chatting to?

Sherlock fans, who are so gorgeous. They send me lots of Oreo cookies which is lovely because they know I love them. And they send me crocheted dolls of Mary, which we keep on a shelf in our little family room. Every now and then one will go missing, and I track it down to my daughter’s room. I’ve also met writing partners on Twitter, and sometimes my heroes start following me, which is brilliant.

Such as?

Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono, for some reason, and Matt Goss, which is amazing because I was such a 
big “Bros-ette” when I was younger. I thought I was going to marry him. 

Have you told him?

I should, shouldn’t I? I’ve not even plucked up the courage to message him yet. 

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Sherlock continues on Sunday at 9pm on BBC1