Theatre & Events: Holby paramedic’s ‘Yes Please’ to Ministerial role

Michael Fenton-Stevens (Prime Minister Jim Hacker) and Indra Ov� (Claire Sutton) star in Yes, Prime Minister UK Tour 2013. Photo by Dan Tsantilis
Michael Fenton-Stevens (Prime Minister Jim Hacker) and Indra Ov� (Claire Sutton) star in Yes, Prime Minister UK Tour 2013. Photo by Dan Tsantilis
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Holby City star Indra Ove, who played paramedic Frankie Weston, turned down the chance to become a firewoman in Coronation Street, no less, to appear on stage in Yes, Prime Minister.

Indra, who also plays teacher Miss Nightingale in children’s show The New Worst Witch, said she was happy to step away from TV to do the comedy, where she plays a special advisor to the Prime Minister.

She said she’ll also miss out on the firefighter training, of course, joking: “It’s incredibly tough. That’s part of the joys of being an actor!”

Indra says of Claire Sutton, her character in Yes Prime Minister: “She is very loyal to the PM. She’s different, feisty. One would have to be as a woman in that position. She’s bright, she’s a risk taker, she’s fearless, but not always for the right reasons. She’s happy to take a risk and put herself on the line.

“She’s worked her way up, fought hard to get where she is and therefore she’s focused about where she goes next and what she wants to do.”

Obviously Claire rustles a few feathers, especially where Cabinet Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby is oncerned.

Indra said: “Sir Humphrey doesn’t really approve of her. I don’t think he’s a fan of women! He doesn’t like women being in the Cabinet.

“They bristle with each other. She’s constantly showing up the civil service. There’s very nice play between those two characters.” Indra said that writers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, who created the original hit comedies Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister back in the 1980s, have modernised the show, which included bringing her in.

She said: “Yes Minister is of its time.

“To bring it back, you’ve got to reflect the society you’re now talking about.

“It brings it up to date by having someone like myself in that role. It also reflects what’s happening in the world for myself as an actress and in the Houses of Parliament. It’s great for me to be in this position.

“Originally in Yes Minister there wasn’t a woman character, so they have to reflect that now.

“Also I am a woman of colour, so it was important to recognise that, now that people like Obama and Condoleezza Rice have been in power.”

Indra said she had been researching about Rice, the US Secretary of State for George W Bush.

She found out that she came from a poor background in the US South and her parents told her as a girl that she had to work three times as hard as a white child to achieve success in life, so Indra’s character reflects that absolute determination to succeed.

So much so that she is more than happy to make questionable moral decisions like hiring a prostitute for a visiting foreign minister to get him on side with the government. Sir Humphrety definitely doesn’t approve of that!

In the show, Prime Minister Jim Hacker and his Sir Humphrey find themselves spinning out of control through the collapsing euro and austerity measures in a world of 24-hour news, Blackberrys and ‘sexed up’ dossiers.

With the country on the brink of financial meltdown, the PM is staring disaster in the face with his only apparent salvation in a morally dubious deal with the Foreign Minister of Kumranistan.

The question is whether Jim Hacker and his team will be able to rescue the country from the edge.

Indra said: “This is a whole new cast, which is nice as we are able to make our own discoveries, knowing that it works all right. It’s lovely.

“People should come and see it. It’s incredibly funny and a great show. Those who saw it before, do come and see it again.”

Yes Prime Minister is at the Lyceum, Sheffield from next Monday (April 29) to Saturday. For tickets, call 0114 249 6000 or go to www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk