During her career, Martine McCutcheon has played a maid a fair few times.
The actress, best known as EastEnders barmaid Tiffany, was a huge hit as a tea lady in Love Actually. She even played a hotel maid in a Miss Marple whodunnit.
But the 46-year-old would love to take on more upper-class characters, like she did in the award-winning stage version of My Fair Lady.
Martine said: “I’ve been the barmaid, the maid with the biscuits and the maid in At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie. I learned on My Fair Lady on stage that it was nice to be the lady, so it’d be quite nice to be the lady on screen as well as on stage. That would be really good.”
Martine, who was born in Hackney, East London, shot to fame on BBC1 soap EastEnders, but has ruled out going back to Albert Square after Tiffany was hit by a car on New Year’s Eve 1998.
“She went out with a bang – literally,” Martine said. “If you’re gonna go, that’s the way. If I went back now, it just wouldn’t be the same. I had the time I was meant to have.”
Martine played barmaid Tiff for four years, at a time when the show attracted up to 20 million viewers. She starred alongside the late Dame Barbara Windsor, who played her on screen mother-in-law Peggy.
Martine said: “She was probably my best friend on set. We had many, many conversations in our dressing room about life and love and everything in between. I miss her very, very, very much.”
After leaving EastEnders, Martine had a varied career, including a No.1 single with hit song My Perfect Moment in 1999. She also won a Laurence Olivier Award for her West End performance of Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney flower girl who is turned into a member of high society in My Fair Lady.
In 2002, she starred in Richard Curtis’ rom-com Love Actually as the tea lady and love interest of Hugh Grant’s Prime Minister. But Martine is now a rare sight on our screens.
Her last major telly appearance was last year, when she was revealed as Swan on The Masked Singer. But she says she turns down most job offers so she can spend more time with her singer husband Jack McManus, 38, and son Rafferty, seven.
“With filming, you have to be on call 24/7 and it’s normally 17-hour days,” she said. “So that’s the reason why, for movies and TV dramas, I’ve taken a step back.”
Martine’s family suffered heartache last month when her brother Laurence John, known as LJ, died suddenly aged 31.
Martine has also been open about her baby struggles, having suffered a number of miscarriages over the years. So it’s no surprise the actress wants to spend every spare moment she has with her little boy.
“We’ve only got the one child and I don’t want to miss anything,” Martine said. “I’m not going to get another one to get those moments with. When jobs come in for myself and Jack, we say, ‘Family first for us’.”
“Rafferty is so precious… we’re so lucky to have him. And what is the point if we’re never going to be around to do the school pick-up or drop off? We have to say, ‘OK, take that job and leave the other three.’ It’s hard. You want to be able to do them all, but you just can’t.”
Martine is working to educate people about the dangers of cholesterol in a partnership with Flora ProActiv