It’s been barely a week since Michelle Keegan bid farewell to the character of Sgt. Georgie Lane in her final outing on BBC One’s Our Girl, but the star is already back on our screens in a second series of Sky One’s raucous comedy-drama Brassic.
“It was just the right time for Georgie to exit,” she tells RadioTimes.com. “I’m very lucky to finish a show and then a week later Brassic starts and it’s completely different.”
A far cry from Our Girl, which put Keegan’s character through the emotional wringer on a regular basis, Brassic – which originally launched to critical acclaim in August last year – was an opportunity for the 32-year-old to show off her comedy chops as no-nonsense Erin Croft.
“I’ve never done comedy before and I remember when I first got sent series one, I absolutely loved it and I sort of fell in love with Erin,” she explains. But the second series of Brassic also allowed Keegan to dig a little deeper. “I don’t want to give too much away, but things do get a little bit dark for Erin. Which for me, as an actor, has been really fun to play because you’ve got all of the comedy aspects but you’ve also got that darkness as well.”
Though the first series saw Erin seek to move on from her wild past with Vinnie (Joe Gilgun) and the gang in favour of a quieter life with boyfriend Dylan (Damien Molony) and her young son Tyler (Jude Riordan), the sequel series – will see Keegan’s character drawn inexorably back into the thick of things.
“Unfortunately, she’s not with Dylan any more – I do think they love each other but there’s too much water under the bridge with what happened in the last series,” Keegan reveals, referring to the reveal that Tyler was actually Vinnie’s son, coupled with Erin choosing not to have Dylan’s baby after falling pregnant.
“They’re still mates and he still sees Tyler, but they’re just not together – and she isn’t in college any more, she failed her exams. So for her this season is about her trying to get back with the lads and going on antics with them, because she has missed it, really. She has missed the excitement.”
Said “antics” involve a heist at a circus and a brush with a lion in the series opener, with Keegan relieved when she learnt she wouldn’t actually have to share the screen with the big cat. “Luckily I never came face to face with the lion, that was all done in green screen. When I first read the script I was like, ‘No, this can’t be right! Surely, surely I’m not going to be working with a lion!’ – obviously I didn’t, thank God!”
Though Erin might be on a different path this series, Keegan still sees her character as a “go-getter” and “empowering for women, especially single mums”.
“She’s a single mum and she’s working for her and her son, and she’s happy about that. She never feels sorry for herself, you know?
“I think that’s the beauty of the show. I think especially with Northern shows, things are always seen in a a negative light, whereas this show, it’s flipped it. It’s beautifully shot and obviously the characters as well – things might go wrong for them but they’re still happy. They’re still happy, they’re still a great group of mates.”
The camaraderie between Erin and the gang is reflected off-screen, Keegan says, with a “really genuine” chemistry between the cast-mates – but of all her co-stars, the actress says it’s child actor Riordan, playing her son, that forces her to raise her game.
“Oh my God, Jude, I’m not joking, he’s so professional,” she laughs. “He’s so good at what he does. If I forget a line, he tells me my line! That’s how clued up he is, I’m not joking. He works so hard and I think he’s so talented.
“You have to raise your game when he’s around, otherwise he points it out! He points out your continuity and everything!”