Emilia Fox

20 January 2020

The Silent Witness star talks to Susan Griffin about good manners, gardening and Judi Dench.



As part of a famous acting dynasty, was your career always a given?

No! As a child I knew I didn’t want to be an actor, that I was absolutely certain of. I’m pleased to say my little girl doesn’t want to be an actor. She thinks it’s too early to get up in the morning. 

What else might you have done?

At Oxford I thought I’d do something with my English degree, maybe writing or teaching. Now, I’d like to do something either with psychology, or plants. I’d be very happy working in a garden centre. I’d love that!

Ever feel nostalgic for your teenage years?

My teenage years were lovely, but I’m probably enjoying my forties the most. They’ve been fun so far.

Do you mind ageing?

The older you get, the luckier you are to have made it to that age, so I don’t fear it, there’s no point, I embrace it.

Consider yourself glass half-full, or half-empty?

Half-full. Full, if possible!

What job are you proudest of?

Definitely Silent Witness because it’s been my greatest passion, workwise, for 15 years. Lots of students come up and say they decided to go into forensics or pathology because of it. That’s one of my favourite things.

Where’s strangest place you’ve been recognised?

Since I’ve changed my hair colour, I rarely get noticed, but in airports, that’s generally when people will clock something and come and chat. Very often people don’t quite believe you’re the same person. They’ll say: ‘You remind me of an actress’.

What gets you riled?

Bad manners. My grandmother was a great believer in good manners and I’m with her. I think they’re very important in life.

Which character have you related to most?

Valerie Hobson, Profumo’s wife, whom I play in The Trial of Christine Keeler. I identify with her as a woman and as an actress. I was very excited to play her.

Do you have a prized possession?

I’ve got some beautiful roses in the garden, Natasha Richardson roses (named in honour of the late actress) and they’re a bit of a prized possession.

Gym or sofa?

I’ve discovered fitness later in life. Now I do as much cardio, gym and weight stuff as I can, and I look forward to it, rather than dread it.

Night in or night out?

I love doing anything with my girlfriends, but with a kid you’re not going out to everything. I go out when I really want to.

Your worst fashion mistake?

Oh my god, I’m sure there are so many. The joy of being an actor is that someone else takes care of what you’re dressed in every day, so every morning is a fashion mistake until I get to work and it’s corrected.

Your favourite actor?

I’ve known Judi Dench since I was little because of my parents, but I never cease to be amazed, she’s incredible. I recently filmed Blithe Spirit with her. You just watch and go ‘How do you do that? That’s off the scale’.

Dame Judi Dench talks about retirement

Do you Tweet?

Yes. It’s interesting to gauge what people think and you accept the bad with the good. I’ve met some lovely people on social media, so look for the positives in it.

How do you relax?

I’m a big gardener, I love gardening. It’s due to my parents who are very green-fingered. It’s been their pleasure in life and now it’s mine.

Town or country?

I live in London, so town for this part of my life, but I’m country at heart. I went to school in Dorset and I think that’s where I will head to in the end.

Any big goals this year?

I’ve got to a point in my life where I like learning things, so I’d like to go back to studying. I could have become an actual pathologist in the time I’ve been on Silent Witness, if I’d put my mind to it.

Best bit of advice you’ve been given?

As soon as I was a teenager, my parents said, ‘You earn your own money and create your own independence through that’, and that was the best advice I had. I’ve never relied on anyone else.

Silent Witness continues on BBC One




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