Cult Q & A: Julie Graham

We’re asking, they’re answering. This week: She’s been from Benidorm to Shetland and she plays a mean game of pool…

“Sources of inspiration are everywhere. People’s lives and stories inspire more than anything, then it’s our job to tell those stories.”

Julie Graham is a familiar face to fans of British TV, with credits ranging from prime-time hits ‘Benidorm’, ‘At Home With The Braithwaites’ and ‘Doc Martin’ to gritty dramas ‘One Of Us’ and ‘Shetland’, and ‘Survivors’ – the 21st century reboot of Terry Nation’s cult ‘70s post-apocalyptic drama.

This morning, Big Finish Production announced that Julie will be returning to the world of ‘Survivors’, joining the cast of the acclaimed audio drama series (a continuation of the original TV series) in the forthcoming sixth season, to be released in June.

‘Widows’ and ‘Boys From The Blackstuff’ had a big impact on Julie Graham.

What were you like at school?

‘Could do better if she applied herself’ was the motto most attributed to me. I mucked about, a lot! School was something to get through but I loved drama.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Apart from a horse-jumping, ice-skating, ballet dancing rockstar you mean?

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Think outside the box more and don’t try to conform as much. Revel in your youthfulness!

What are your best and worst qualities?

That’s a question for my kids!

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Without doubt, a Saturday job at a fruit and veg shop cleaning out the onion containers. I still retch at the thought!

Heroes: Babs and Bette!

Who were your heroes growing up?

Marc Bolan. David Bowie. Debbie Harry. Barbra Streisand. Bette Davis. Bette Midler.

What do you consider to be the single greatest piece of television ever?

That’s an impossible question to answer because your taste develops and changes so much. The one that first had the biggest impact on me was ‘Boys From the Blackstuff’ because it politicised me, and ‘Widows’ because it was one of the first shows I saw where women had all the leading roles but the list is endless.

Monty Python: Is it funny?

Depends how much weed I’ve smoked.

What was the last film that you watched?

‘Interstellar’. I was slow to the party. Spectacular!

What film could you watch every day?

‘All About Eve’.

What’s your favourite film soundtrack?

‘Betty Blue’.

Which four actors would you like to see in a film together and which genre?

Ann Margaret, Gina Lollabrigida, Pam Grier and Julie Christie as a badass gang in a Western.

Which film, book or record last disappointed you the most?

‘The Girl on the Train’. Plucked from England and plonked in America.


Which record would you recommend and lend to a friend?

‘Bat Out Of Hell’. Meat Loaf. Cult Classic!

Which record wouldn’t you let out of your sight?

My I Love to Boogie Marc Bolan single of course!

Which book would you save if your house was on fire?


What’s your definition of what makes something cult?


What are you reading at present?

‘Marshall: The Book of Loud’.

When did you first decide that you wanted to act, and what inspired you to make a career out of it?

Going to see plays at the The Citizens in Glasgow. Mary Stuart in particular with the brilliant Ann Mitchell who was in ‘Widows’.

One of your earliest credits is the creepy kids’ anthology series, ‘Dramarama’, in the episode ‘Stan’s First Night’ with Gregor Fisher.  What do you remember about it?

Only that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing! Probably realising then that I had to rely on my instincts!


You’ve had a few brushes with cult TV, with ‘Bonekickers’ (from the creators of Life On Mars), ‘Survivors’ (based on the 1970s BBC series) and Doctor Who spin-off ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’. Would you like to do more in that genre – maybe be the first female Doctor Who?

I love that genre! Russell T Davies had a lot to answer for and thank the Time Lord for him! It’s the best fun you can have on telly. I’d love a crack at the Doctor!

You’ve appeared in a number of high profile, mainstream shows with strong ensemble casts, such as ‘Doc Martin’, ‘At Home With The Braithwaites’, ‘Death In Paradise’, ‘William & Mary’, and ‘Benidorm’. In your experience, what’s the key to having a happy cast and crew on such a production?

Being a good team player and remembering that the job we do is a privilege. I learnt a lot from Martin Clunes. Apart from being a brilliant actor he is a wonderful human being and a great leading man; gracious, funny and kind.

Which other actors have inspired you over the years?

Julie Walters. Michael Elphick. Juliet Stevenson. Sources of inspiration are everywhere though. People’s lives and stories inspire more than anything, then it’s our job to tell those stories.

What’s the best bit of advice anyone has given you?

The best piece of advice I was given was from my mother, who was an actress: “There’s always one cunt in the room, make sure it’s not you.”

Who has had the biggest influence on your career, and how has that person changed your life?

I’d say the strong women I grew up with.

Do you think it’s true that you should never meet your heroes?

No because it’s important to realise that no one is infallible, however, there’s no better feeling than being right about someone!


What would you like to be your epitaph?

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough”. Stolen from Mae West….

On reflection my epitaph answer is probably more of a motto. I thought maybe “The shell is here but the nut is gone” is probably more apt, and it always makes me laugh which a good epitaph always should!

We are at a bar, what are you drinking?

Whiskey soda.

What are your three favourite cities?

New York. Paris. Amsterdam.

What do you do to chill out?

Wild camping.

Is there anything unique about yourself that you would like your readers to know?

I’m a mean pool player.

What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?


What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career so far – and why?

Probably doing theatre when I was in my early 20’s. it was my real education.

Your most recent role was in BBC’s ‘One Of Us’. What’s it been like?

It’s always exciting to work with great writers, new directors and brilliant actors. ‘One of Us’ had all those elements. Plus I got to work with Juliet Stevenson who is one of my heroes! And yes I was right!

Can you tell us what you’re up to next?

I’m off to sunny Benidorm and rainy Shetland again. I like to mix it up!

Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to talk to us!

My pleasure. Thanks for asking!

❉ ‘Survivors’ Series 6 is released in June by Big Finish Productions on Download for £20 and CD for £25 – both pre-release prices offering a £5 discount on the price when the set goes on general release later in the year. A CD order automatically unlocks digital access on release.

❉ The ninth series of ‘Bendiorm’ is due to air on ITV in March 2017.

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