SUICIDE bombers in train loos and bloody assassination attempts we could just about cope with.
But seeing a Tory Home Secretary suddenly morph into a sex siren shocked the nation’s TV viewers this week.
Bodyguard star Keeley Hawes, here modelling in the nineties, has risen to TV fame after a life of depression and heartache[/caption]
Twitter was ablaze after the scenes at the end of Monday night’s episode of BBC1’s Bodyguard, when what seemed to be a classic political thriller swerved into full-on raunchiness.
It might have been all too much — but Keeley Hawes, who plays romping MP Julia Montague in the six-part series, can seemingly do no wrong.
Fast becoming a national treasure and already the queen of quality TV drama, the daughter of a London cabbie is an actress that women admire — and men lust after.
And she is no stranger to causing an uproar with her sex scenes.
Keeley Hawes, who plays romping MP Julia Montague in the BBC six-part series, is fast becoming a national treasure[/caption]
In fact, she still feels the shockwaves from her bedroom antics in BBC2 lesbian romance Tipping The Velvet — screened way back in 2002.
The actress, now 42, said: “I’m an icon on the lesbian scene now, and that’s a good position to be in.
“People do have this thing about girl-on-girl stuff.
“But lesbian sex scenes are no different to do than heterosexual sex scenes.
Twitter was ablaze after the scenes at the end of Monday night’s episode of Bodyguard[/caption]
“We did all our love scenes in one bedroom in one afternoon, although I do admit I did have to fortify myself.
“We had a couple of glasses of wine and a bar of Galaxy and off we went. It was quite nice, actually.”
Tipping The Velvet turned the young actress into a household name, and she has since starred in a string of hits including Spooks, Ashes To Ashes, Line Of Duty and The Durrells.
Her award-winning performances are known for their depth and power — and often also give her a chance to express her dark side.
In the most recent episode, the home secretary Julia Montague, played by Keeley, romped with her married protection officer after a bloody assassination attempt[/caption]
The mum of three added: “And I really have got one.”
Speaking openly about her mental health, she revealed: “I started suffering with depression when I was 17.
“Therapy hasn’t worked for me. I’ve got a chemical imbalance that has to be managed.
“It’s not something that’s cured then goes away and you move on. You are always aware, even if it’s only on a bad morning here and there, that it can escalate quickly.
Julia Montague cowers is left covered in blood after an assassination attempt[/caption]
“I suppose when work is going well, that helps — but it’s not the cure. Having other people who rely on you, like three kids, forces you into not being in a state where you could stay in bed, because you just can’t.”
But even before Keeley began suffering from depression, she found herself struggling.
Growing up in a council flat in Marylebone, central London, she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life — except “get out of that small house”.
She continued: “I was quite an awkward teenager.
Monday night’s episode Bodyguard swerved into full-on raunchiness[/caption]
“Partly because I got very tall very quickly, taller than a lot of the boys. So I felt very out of place for a while. I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 17. No one was very interested. I think it was a bit of an ugly duckling thing.”
She never thought of acting for a living, even though she had been attending the Sylvia Young Theatre School since winning a scholarship there at the age of nine.
Keeley reveals she only ended up at the renowned institution “because Sylvia Young moved her school to opposite my house”.
Keeley, who starred in Spooks, is an actress that women admire — and men lust after[/caption]
It was there she had her own working-class London accent trained out of her in elocution lessons — endlessly reciting sentences like “Plain Janes sat on a train”, to the amusement of her family.
Meanwhile, her best friend at the school was Emma Bunton, who grew up to be Baby Spice. They later even moved in together.
Keeley said: “I lived with her for six months. We used to go on caravanning holidays.”
She left school at 16 and worked shifts in McDonald’s and a local supermarket.
Keeley has starred in a string of hits including Spooks, Ashes To Ashes, Line Of Duty and is pictured here in The Durrells[/caption]
Then a model scout spotted her and signed her up.
Keeley recalled: “I was scouted in the street. It took me completely by surprise.
“I wasn’t very good, but I had a lovely six months making friends and travelling.”
Her photo was spotted by a casting agent working on Karaoke, the last work by TV screenwriting legend Dennis Potter whose previous series included
The Singing Detective.
Keeley posing in a raunchy scene in the 1999 series The Blonde Bombshell[/caption]
She got the role — to her own surprise — and in 1996, at age 20, she was in one of TV’s most talked-about dramas.
Other roles followed but it was not until Tipping The Velvet, when she played male impersonator Kitty Butler, that she hit the headlines.
She stoked interest in the racy series by announcing: “I completely related to Kitty. Well not completely, because I’m not lesbian. I’m bi.”
Ever since, Keeley has denied she meant what she said, saying: “Maybe what I meant is that everyone is a little bisexual. I’ve been married twice, both times to men.”
Keeley Hawes as Alex Drake in BBC drama Ashes to Ashes[/caption]
Keeley lives with actor husband Matthew Macfadyen and her three children in Richmond, West London.
Her eldest son Myles, 18, is from her relationship with her first husband, cartoonist Spencer McCallum. The other two — Maggie, 13, and Ralph, 11 — are from her second marriage to Spooks star Matthew, 43.
This second marriage had tumultuous beginnings — in fact, the stuff of TV drama.
She walked out on Spencer in February 2002 aged 26, just eight weeks after they had tied the knot, after meeting Matthew on the set of BBC1 drama Spooks the previous November.
A member of the crew recalled the pair fell for each other “like a ton of bricks”.
Even the moment her co-star revealed his love could have been taken from a TV script.
Keeley revealed: “Matthew just came straight out with it and said, ‘I love you’ in the rain one day. I thought, ‘Oh dear, here we go.’”
She said the decision to end her first marriage “was just horrible. It was awful.
Keeley Hawes attends a photo call for BBC One’s Bodyguard at the BFI Southbank in London[/caption]
“But it was a long time ago now. And we have this wonderful son and my ex- husband is still one of my best friends in the world.”
Keeley and Matthew had a low-key wedding in 2004 at a Richmond register office with just two friends as witnesses.
Speaking about her first marriage, Keeley asked: “Did I marry too young? I don’t know. I don’t think so.
“My mum married at 21 and she’s still married, so who can say? I really did want to get married and I’d been with Spencer for a few years and thought it was the right thing. But you can never know what’s round the corner and things are either right or they’re not, and they weren’t right.”
She says that on the other hand, she and Matthew are exactly right for each other, each balancing the other out.
She explained: “He’s very calm. I’m the fiery one.”
This side has rarely been seen in public — although she dramatically left West End play Barking In Essex in 2013 after reportedly fierce rows with co-star Sheila Hancock which were said to have culminated in an “arm-grabbing incident”.
Meanwhile, her own star appears to be shining a little brighter than Matthew’s, who has failed to land a major hit since Ripper Street ended in 2016.
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Keeley revealed: “I’m often asked whether it’s a problem if one of us is doing better than the other, and I’ve never really understood that question. If one is doing well, it’s a great relief to the other because it takes the pressure off.”
Meanwhile her own success — and spectacular CV which also includes upcoming roles in BBC2s Summer Of Rockets and Channel 4’s Jerusalem — still seems hard for her to take in.
She said of her career: “I had no idea what was going to happen. I still wonder what I’m going to do for a living.”
Screen Queen's big hits
A series written by Dennis Potter, it also starred Albert Finney, Roy Hudd and Richard E. Grant.
The Moonstone (1996)
Keeley landed the lead role of Rachel Verinder in this adaptation of Wilkie Collins’ classic detective novel.
The Avengers (1998)
The actress played the small part of Tamara in The Avengers movie, which starred Ralph Fiennes, Sean Connery and Uma Thurman. It was based on the classic British TV show from the 1960s.
Tipping The Velvet (2002)
Her first major TV role was in the Victorian era, lesbian drama, alongside Rachael Stirling.
Keeley became a regular on the spy series, which shed light on the workings of MI5. She played Zoe Reynolds and appeared in 22 episodes.
A Cock And Bull Story (2005)
Keeley played herself and the character of Elizabeth in this mind-boggling literary adaptation alongside Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
The Bank Job (2008)
She had a small role in Jason Statham’s movie crime drama.
Flashbacks Of A Fool (2008)
The film, about a fading Hollywood actor who recalls the days of his youth, saw Keeley play Daniel Craig’s love interest.
Ashes To Ashes (2008-10)
She went back to the 1980s as Alex Drake in the sequel to cop drama Life On Mars.
This TV mini-series saw Keeley play another cop, DSI Martha Lawson.
Upstairs Downstairs (2010-12)
This remake explored the class divide between aristocrats and their servants. Keeley played Lady Agnes Holland in all nine episodes.
The Lady Vanishes (2013)
The actress played a key role in the BBC adaptation of the classic mystery novel.
The series starred David Mitchell and Robert Webb as a British ambassador and his chief of staff. Keeley played David’s wife.
Doctor Who (2014)
She starred as evil Ms Delphox in the episode Time Heist, opposite Peter Capaldi as the Doctor.
The Casual Vacancy (2015)
Keeley played Samantha in BBC adaptation of the J K Rowling novel.
Life for residents in a tower block spins out of control in this film starring Tom Hiddleston. Here, she played Ann, the wife of Jeremy Irons’ architect.
Line Of Duty (2014-16)
Keeley played a starring role for two seasons of this hit TV police drama.
The Missing (2016)
A gripping mini-series which told the story of a couple who lose their five-year-old son while on holiday in France. Keeley played the part of Gemma.
The Durrells (2016-18)
She plays mother-of-four Louise in this series based on Gerald Durrell’s books, which see the family move to Corfu in the 1930s.
- Bodyguard continues on BBC1 on Sunday at 9pm.