Bolton's Sophie Willan on why BAFTA win was so poignant

By Jessica Sansome

Sophie Willan has recalled her shock at winning a BAFTA and revealed why she had to apologise to her neighbours that same night.

The Bolton comedian picked up a writing gong at the virtual awards ceremony in May this year.

Sophie, 32, was nominated for the pilot episode of her upcoming BBC series Alma's Not Normal.

The episode, which aired on BBC Two in April, was watched by more than one million people and Sophie was soon commissioned to write a full series.

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As well as writing it, the comic also stars as Alma Nuthall, a Boltonian wild child who is trying to get her life back on track after a recent break-up.

And the BAFTA came as a bit of a surprise - as her reaction filmed by fellow comedian Jayde Adams showed.

Jayde Adams, who also stars in Alma’s Not Normal, was with Sophie and fellow comic - and Sophie's partner - Jonny Pelham in Bolton to watch the awards show via a live stream.

The brilliant video shows Sophie running away, yelling: "I won a Bafta," in a sparkly pink gown and heels.

"Not doing humble pie here but I genuinely wasn't expecting it at all," Sophie told the Manchester Evening News and other press during a webinar for Alma's Not Normal.

"It wasn't even on my periphery. Because we were in the middle of filming, and it was only a pilot, it wasn't on my radar at all."

Explaining the poignancy of the win, Sophie went on: "My grandma actually, who was a foster parent of mine, passed away the night before the BAFTA's.

"So that was quite an emotional moment."

She added: "She'd always encourage me with the writing and the acting. She passed away at 9pm and then I woke up the next morning, went onto set, got into make-up and then all these messages started coming through saying congratulations on your nomination for a BAFTA.

"I thought it was a joke and then it was quite overwhelming but felt really weirdly passing with grandma passing."

Sophie says it was a "month to the day" of her grandmother passing that she actually won the award.

She said it was "bittersweet" but also a moment of "love and joy amid the grief."

Sophie and Jayde in Alma's Not Normal (BBC / Expectation / Matt Squire)

But Sophie's reaction to winning led her to waking all the neighbors up.

"I started hugging them actually," Sophie said. "I woke all these kids up because they had been put to bed."

Alma's Not Normal hasn't got a release date just yet but is coming to BBC Two "soon".

Oldham actress Siobhan Finneran, known for roles in Benidorm, Happy Valley and The Stranger, stars in the series as Alma's mum Lin - a heroin addict, who has been sectioned for arson, and Lorraine Ashbourne playing her nan Joan.

Jayde stars as Sophie’s best friend, Leanne, and James Baxter as Anthony, Alma’s cheating ex-boyfriend.

The series was filmed in Sophie's hometown of Bolton earlier this year.

And Sophie has revealed that while doing a live read of the show with a director at BBC Two, things got a bit wild.

"It was in the afternoon and could have been very dry and depressing but there's a scene where Alma and Leanne do karaoke.

"We decided in the room we're going to do the actual karaoke and I rolled around to Respect - which later became the Spice Girls."

"I think at one point I rolled over and accidently flashed my a*** to Patrick Holland which could have secured the deal, who knows," she joked.

"It was quite a raucous affair."

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