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Soaps Interview

'Hollyoaks' Carli Norris talks Ally downfall, Martha future

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Carli Norris (Martha Kane, Hollyoaks)

© Lime Pictures

Hollyoaks' troubled mum Martha Kane sparks Ally Gorman's downfall next week as she manages to expose his true colours.

Martha turns detective in upcoming episodes and soon makes a startling discovery about just how much Ally (Dan O'Connor) is deceiving her family. However, the shocks don't end there as when she storms round to confront the mysterious Australian, she finds him in bed with her 16-year-old daughter Lacey…

Digital Spy recently chatted to Carli Norris, who plays Martha, to hear more about the storyline and her time at Hollyoaks so far.

How are you finding your time playing Martha?
"It's been really lovely. I've been adjusting back into it, because before joining Hollyoaks I'd been at home after having my babies, so this is my first job back on the television after quite a while. I'm one of the older members of the cast and that's quite strange, because I've always been one of the younger ones in other jobs. Hollyoaks has a very young cast but every single person who works there is absolutely fantastic. I've had a brilliant time working with all of them.

"The commute is a bit of a trek for me as I live 200 miles away, but the storylines have been great and quite challenging and I've really enjoyed getting my profile up, so it's been brilliant."

What kind of a reaction have you had from Hollyoaks fans?
"Well, I've got a nice little following on Twitter and I get lots of comments on there. They're mainly really positive, which is lovely. I get lots of tweets from young people who say that I remind them of their mum or other family members, and I do get back to people to give support if they're going through similar experiences to the Kane family in the storyline.

"I really enjoy the comedy aspect of Martha and I get lots of positive comments about the funny material. There are lots of people asking for more scenes with me, Diane and Myra all together, so hopefully they'll be writing some more of them.

"There have been a few people saying, 'Oh Martha really gets on my nerves!', but that's when I've been covering storylines where Martha has been out of control. Hopefully over the next week or so, the viewers will see another side to Martha. You're going to see her real passion for her children."

Martha has so many flaws, so has it been a challenge for you to make her likeable?
"Yeah - sometimes I get a script and I think, 'Oh gosh, how am I going to portray this?' But you do need some kind of sympathy with your character to understand why they're behaving in a certain way. Martha is very immature, but she has brought up the children on her own and she's done her best by them. She also missed out on her own childhood because she was very young when she had Ash.

"There's no excuse for Martha hitting the bottle, but I think you can't help but feel sorry for her when her children turn their backs on her. The way that I've connected to the role is through Martha always striving to make it right and the fact that she loves her children more than life itself. I've got little children as well, so that part of it isn't difficult to relate to at all.

"Martha is a really feisty, funny character to play. In the future, I'd love her to be a bit more rock chick and a bit more young. The more ridiculous she can get, the funnier she becomes."

The Kane family in Hollyoaks

© Lime Pictures

Martha and Ash argue.

© Lime Pictures



How did you prepare for Martha's alcoholism storyline?
"The writers did a lot of research by contacting charities who help teenagers with alcoholic parents. When it comes to my own personal research, I've had a couple of friends who've had alcoholic parents and I've seen the devastation first hand from them.

"I was also extremely lucky to have somebody working quite closely with me within the crew whose parent was an alcoholic. The stories that this person told me touched me so deeply, so that was my research. Hearing what this person went through helped me to understand what my on-screen kids were going through on the show.

"I also have to big up the actors that I'm working with. Georgia, Laurie and Holly are such fantastic actors and in the scenes where I've been drunk, they provoke the reactions from me that have made Martha who she is. It's really lovely to work with them and my job wouldn't be as easy as it is without those brilliant actors."

Do you think Martha is off the booze for good now, or will there be more relapses on the way?
"On one hand I hope that's it for good, because that dark place is not a very nice place to be as an actor. It's more of a joy to play her when she's having a laugh. But on the other hand, it's a very serious issue and that's why soaps in this country are so fantastic because they handle these things so well. It's important to address it properly, so I don't mind if we stay on the storyline and continue to look at how it affects families.

"I'm in two minds, but perhaps if we show that you can recover, that's a positive message to send out. But Martha will always be an alcoholic - that's what everyone has to remember. She can't touch another drop, so what I definitely wouldn't want to see is Martha having 'the odd glass of wine', as that would be the wrong message to send across."

Next week, Martha discovers that 'Ally' has stolen someone else's identity. What can we expect from the episodes?
"Well, Ally has really upset the applecart. Yes, Martha has made huge mistakes and the position that she's in at the moment is all her own fault, but Ally won't let her anywhere near the family now. She knows there's something not quite right about him, and she's trying very, very hard to get her children to see that.

"Martha wants to make things right by getting back in the family, and by protecting her children from someone who she knows isn't being totally honest. So Martha gets Ally alone, gets things out of him and finds out enough information to help her start researching him. The big revelations come from there after she researches Ally online, so she goes off to tell the family."

Martha finds Lacey and Ally in bed.

© Lime Pictures

Martha finds Lacey and Ally in bed.

© Lime Pictures



How does Martha feel when she then finds Ally and Lacey in bed together?
"It all becomes very exciting - there's a lot of action in the furore of what happens next. Martha does show that she can stick up for herself physically as well as verbally, and Ally does get his comeuppance. A lot of people have been tweeting me asking if we're going to find out about Ally, and what I'll say is that they should definitely tune in for the exciting episodes coming up next week!"

What was it like to film the fight scene with Dan?
"I love Dan - he's so tall and he's like 20 stone of pure muscle! When I walked in, there was a fight director who said he wanted Martha to pick Ally up off the bed so I said, 'You're joking aren't you?!' There's quite a funny moment where I actually pick Ally up by his head!

"It took a long time to film, but the fight director was excellent and it was very well choreographed. I got a few bruises myself and managed to scratch Dan in quite a few places, poor thing! But he's one of my best friends on the show."

We've never met Ash, Callum and Lacey's father. Would you like him to be brought in?
"Well, we don't know much about him. We know that he's an archaeologist, he lives in Dubai at the moment and he has quite a bit of money. I would like Martha to have a love interest at some point, but I don't think it's going to be her ex, because she absolutely can't stand him.

"Maybe it would be good to see him because he could throw a few cats among the pigeons. It'd be interesting to find out who he is and why Martha broke up with him. Maybe he's the reason why Martha turned to alcohol, you never know!"

Do the show's younger cast members approach you for advice?
"It depends on the actor - some of them do, some of them don't. The thing is, when I first started out, I didn't like being told how to do things by older actors and actresses. I wish I had listened now, because I look back on some of the things that I did and think, 'Oh, that's awful'.

"You only learn with experience, and there are times when I'll make suggestions, but only when I think it's absolutely necessary. Acting is a lot about reacting, so if you want to get a good performance out of someone, you have to be on your A-game yourself.

"I get a lot of questions from the cast and it's really nice because it gives me the opportunity to give advice. Some people among the cast have come from drama school and have trained, but some people have come from completely different backgrounds. It's a two-way street, as I also learn from the younger cast myself and take things on board when I watch their performances."

What are your hobbies outside of acting?
"I run a cake-decorating shop down in Essex - Kittyscottage.co.uk is the website for it. I basically teach people how to decorate cupcakes and larger cakes too. It's a really nice hobby and when I do get time out, it's great to create different designs but my favourite thing is teaching people how to do it.

"I'm also going to be opening a classroom teaching people how to make their own organic beauty products and chemical-free products for the home, so that's another project for next year. I'm currently in the process of moving house too so I've got quite a lot on the go at the moment, especially with Christmas on the way!"

> 'Hollyoaks' Ally drama, Corrie turmoil, 'EastEnders' Bianca, 'Emmerdale' passion
> Read the latest 'Hollyoaks' spoilers and news

Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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