Did you know Paul was working at Hollyoaks before you got the part?
"I heard that he'd gone over there but then I was off travelling for a couple of months. I'd worked with Paul before - he employed me at The Bill - and everyone's like, 'You're lucky - you didn't have to audition, he offered you the part', and I said, 'Well yeah, he obviously likes what I do and also I know I'm a nice person to work with. I'm easy on set, I know my lines'. He wouldn't just have given me a job because he likes me. I'm also a respectful actor to work with and quite professional in that sense."
So there was no audition, you just got offered the part? That's virtually unheard of...
"It is but I always say to younger actors to be aware of who you're working with. These people can employ you again."
What was your reaction when you found out?
"Disbelief, really - I was staying with an aunt in Sydney, I was speaking to my agent and she said I'd been offered an audition but I couldn't get back for it. Anyway, I went to Thailand to visit my cousin and my agent who contacted me in Australia called my aunt in Australia, my aunt called my grandad in England, my grandad called my mum, my mum called me in Thailand, my brother called me in Thailand, my other brother called me in Thailand. I thought it was a wind-up! I spoke to one of my brothers first and he was like, 'Mum's spoken to your agent', and I'm like, 'Mum doesn't have my agent's number! Why would my agent call her?' So I was about the seventh person to hear it. I was saying to my cousin, 'Why would they wind me up and say I have a job to come back to - they wouldn't be cruel, would they?' I was out having a meal with my cousin and his girlfriend and I couldn't relax - I had to go back and check my email. It still didn't sink in for a few days but it was so nice!"
Did you accept straight away?
"Straight away! I've worked with Paul before and I love what he does and just to be a part of Hollyoaks is great, especially such a glamorous role and completely different to The Bill as well."
Knowing that the show hadn't been on top form did you have any reservations about joining?
"I was absolutely happy to be part of the rejuvenation process. It's such an exciting time to join a show. You're part of that moving it one step forward or in a different direction. It's nice. And there's lots of us coming in. There's a bit of a buzz about the place. For me it's not important what's gone on in the past. I've joined, I've got a great family, a great group of actors to work with, it's a lovely place to work and it's all very positive and buzzy."
Do you feel any pressure knowing that you've been brought in as one of the three families to 'relaunch' the show?
"Of course. With every role you don't go, 'This is going to be plain sailing and really easy!' because you care. Any good actor cares about what they're doing and wants to do the best job they can. At first I was really worried that I had an 18-year-old son. I'm 32 as Kim but as the character I'm playing 35 so in make-up it's important to look a bit older but also in my acting - I'm not a mother, I don't have kids so you have to draw on your acting ability there but I do have people I have unconditional love for, people I'm protective over and would die for, so you let those feelings kick in. My biggest worry was playing a mother but it seems to have come quite naturally and I'm really enjoying doing the mummy bits."
You've been filming as Heidi for a good number of weeks now - how would you describe her?
"She's an extremely strong woman. She's got a lot of inner strength. She's completely in love with her husband and loyal to her family."
Does she have any quirks?
"Actually I've just seen a clip of my first episode and I don't put them on but I do these little looks. I said to the director, 'Oh God, I didn't notice I did that!' but he said it was great. I think it's really awful to be a self-conscious actress so you just come and you do your thing. She's very glamorous and wouldn't ever go out without a full face of make-up. Always brilliantly turned out, hair, make-up, shoes - always immaculately dressed. Quite protective over her husband as well. She's running the show now, she's in control because of the past."
What can you tell us about Heidi's husband Carl?
"Carl is an ex-footballer. They are very much in love and attracted to one another and supportive. Obviously he's had his wandering ways in the past but she's one of those women who stands by her man. He's never had a long-term affair, it's always been flings and I can't understand why or justify why but he's a good husband to her in every respect except that. There are things to be explored there through storyline. Paul is fantastic - he's brilliant - we have good chemistry on screen. The whole family has a good dynamic."
Is it easy forging that husband and wife dynamic?
"I guess we're just lucky we don't have to work hard at it. Sometimes it's not naturally there and you have to work extra hard at it but we just seem to have it - the whole family does really. I'm so pleased with the casting. It's a joy to come into work every day, knowing you're going to be working with good people that you respect and bounce well off."
> Click here for part two of our exclusive interview with Kim Tiddy, only in Soap Scoop
Additional reporting by Philippa Warr