Press star Charlotte Riley: I couldn’t handle the pressure of journalism deadlines in real life

The Wuthering Heights and Easy Virtue star playing a deputy news editor in the new drama

Charlotte Riley, Press (BBC, EH)

Charlotte Riley plays Holly Evans, deputy news editor of The Herald, in BBC1’s newspaper drama Press. She spoke to Radio Times about the role’s challenges – and why she couldn’t be a news reporter in real life

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Would you be a better tabloid or broadsheet journalist in real life? 

I would have to be one of those journalists who does more in-depth work, because I don’t think I have the stamina to write to a deadline.

I couldn’t write a huge article every day – my nerves couldn’t deal with it!

Are tabloids bad for us?

What worries me is the idea of sensation over content. So much of the content is not the type of journalism that changes government policy, for example, or the way we live our lives. It is what it is but maybe in times to come things will change, and unnecessary invasions of privacy will not be allowed.

Haven’t we always gossiped about other people’s lives?

You can say that it’s been part of human nature since the Greeks and the Romans. Or you can say that it’s a dark side of human nature and that somebody, somewhere, needs to take slightly more responsibility for it. Someone should be going, “OK, that’s taking it too far now.” But in an age where people are prepared to be locked in a house and filmed for 24 hours a day, maybe things are changing. Maybe the insane navel-gazing will make all our heads explode!

Do you mind when the tabloids delve into your private life?

I think you’ve just got to make a choice, haven’t you? Human beings have a choice in the way they experience their lives, and you decide what you can change and what you can’t – and that’s not something I can change. I’ve never been chased by a journalist, but I’m pretty sure I could outrun most of them!

In Press, a lot of the senior newsroom figures are women. Is acting keeping up with journalism?

I’m hoping that something’s happening in our industry – we’re all striving towards telling more female stories. But how can you expect there to be more stories told by female directors, by female writers and directors of photography, if you’re not providing a way for women at the pinnacle of their careers to actually do it?

It’s cracking that #MeToo might provide more jobs for women, but what’s the point if experienced 30–40-year-olds can’t get back to work because they are the primary carer?

Press were brilliant about me bringing my own child on set, but I’m working on a project to provide on-set childcare, because if we want equality then we have to have childcare for everyone.

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This article was originally published on 5 September 2018