Manjinder Virk is our kind of girl. Having started out on the standup circuit with Miranda Hart, she’s since shared scenes with James Nesbitt and hot young actor Tom Riley in new medical drama Monroe. She also studied playwright Andrea Dunbar’s life for her role in soon-to-be-released DVD The Arbor. We got her to dish the dirt on tackling love scenes, sitting front row at Brit designer David Koma’s fashion show and causing a scene at InStyle’s recent Best of British Talent bash…
We’re looking forward to Monroe - tell us about it?
My character is called Sally Fortune and she’s a registrar alongside neurosurgeon Monroe [played by James Nesbitt]. She’s very hardworking and ambitious. Monroe really relies on her.
James Nesbitt is an Irish charmer - what’s he like to work with?
He’s so brilliant! I’ve been a big fan of his since watching him in Bloody Sunday. The show really rests on his shoulders but he was still charming. Sarah Parrish is in Monroe too, she’s so gorgeous. I really lucked out with the cast!
We loved Tom Riley in Bouquet of Barbed Wire…what’s he like?
Tom’s gorgeous! I’d seen him as Mr Wickham [Mr Darcy’s nemesis] in Lost in Austen but I almost didn’t recognise him he looked so different. He’s the eye candy of the show!
Tell us about your role in the BAFTA-nominated film documentary, The Arbor?
It’s a portrayal of Andrea Dunbar [playwright best known for Rita, Sue and Bob Too]; I play her daughter, Lorraine. Cleo Barnard [director] interviewed and recorded Andrea’s family and close friends so our script was actually an audio that we lip-synced to. I had to learn all of Lorraine’s interviews, so every um, er, and pause. It was like learning a piece of music.
Tell us about your time on the stand-up circuit…
I did a one-woman show [Autobiography of a Face] in 2004, which I wrote and performed in and toured the UK with. At the time I wanted to do something that would challenge and scare me but would be also enjoyable. Stand up is not at all glamorous – there are no dressing rooms, it’s all about getting ready in the toilet!
Any bad heckles?
I didn’t have any really bad heckles but I remember a group of guys that talked the whole way through and ignored me – I think being ignored is worse than heckling!
Were there famous comediennes doing the rounds when you were?
I used to see Miranda Hart a lot, she was brilliant fun. I watch her TV show Miranda now; I’m so pleased she’s doing so well, she’s so loveable.
What’s been your most embarrassing moment as an actress?
I always find sex scenes awkward! It’s not exactly romantic having people watching you but I do get nervous. The first one I ever did was aided by a bottle of whiskey I found in the kitchen on set – I took a big swig before the scene. It helped but I still got the giggles.
You looked amazing at our recent Best of British Talent party, who were you wearing?
I wore a gorgeous green dress by Clemency London; I went into the store for a fitting and found some leather trousers too which I wore to the South Bank awards before I came to your party. I thought the dress was better suited to Shoreditch House!
Any funny moments you can divulge?
I really embarrassed myself… I tried to put my empty champagne glass on a tray while taking a shot of chocolate espresso – I knocked the whole tray of shots all over the floor. They went everywhere. I got some pretty bad looks from that!
Who do you love in fashion right now?
I recently did a shoot with [new Brit fashion designer] David Koma for The Times and afterwards David invited me to his AW12 show at London Fashion Week. He’s so talented. I’m going to check out his collection for Topshop too. I also got to see Holly Fulton – her collection was so beautiful, she’s got such a feminine touch. I’m really getting into my fashion at the moment.
Monroe is on ITV1 10 March 2011; The Arbor is on DVD from 14 March 2011.
By Sarah Angus