Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Exclusive interview with Holli Dempsey - Derek's Vicky

After yet another hilarious, entertaining and thought-provoking episode of Derek, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking exclusively to Derek débutante Holli Dempsey, who plays Vicky in the hit Channel 4 show.

Holli Dempsey, Derek, Vicky
Holli Dempsey plays Vicky in Derek Episode 2
If you missed tonight's episode, don't worry, I'll give you a little bit of a background to Holli's character. Community Service worker Vicky has been sent to Broadhill Retirement Home because she was caught nicking shoes from the shop she used to work in. Vicky is convinced she bears an uncanny resemblance to Victoria Beckham, especially as they share the same name, are both posh and have the same taste in bags and shoes. Derek introduces Vicky to the residents while Hannah helps her get to grips with all the daily chores, which to Vicky's disgust includes changing beds and cleaning urinals. Fed up and frustrated, Vicky is really losing the will until one of the residents gives her the boost she needs to get motivated and turn things around. I won’t spoil the episode too much as if you’re on this website and haven’t seen it, I'm sure you’ll catch up on 4OD.

Holli Dempsey, Derek, Vicky
Derek introduces Vicky to the residents
Holli is brilliantly-cast and a welcome addition to the already established line-up by Gervais and co, and on the back of tonight’s episode, Holli is clearly a true star in the making.

Before Derek, Holli has performed in theatres in and around London including the Theatre Royal Stratford East, The Bush, Young Vic and The Drill Hall, as well as appearances in two major Theatre festivals in Holland. She also appeared in the final ever episodes of The Bill, in Holby City, Doctor Who and Whitechapel.

Holli Dempsey, Actress, Actor, Derek
Holli Dempsey has a background in theatre and TV drama before Derek
Now Holli has landed the envious role in Derek, working alongside Gervais, Pilkington, Earl and Godliman in the already critically-acclaimed Gervais creation. There must be an endless list of aspiring actresses wishing to play Holli’s part, so my first question was easy:

How did you get the part?
My first audition with the lovely Tracey Gillham went quite well. When I heard that had been successful I was told to go and meet the producer, casting and Ricky. I'm still not sure how I didn't gush about how pleased I was to meet him! Staying mainly in Vicky-mode, I was surly and unimpressed, checking Twitter on my phone while Ricky asked 'Vicky' "where do you see yourself in 5 years?". We did some Improvisation and I think my blah-blah attitude really won him over! My line about the 'Kardashians,' which Ricky kept in the show, seemed to be the clincher and he sealed the deal with his famous laugh.

Did you always want to be an actress?
I have definitely always wanted to be an actress. I have only ever really had one goal! 

What was your first acting job, and also your first big break?
It depends what you think of as a 'big break' as they are all relative at the time. I got a part in the last ever two episodes of The Bill which is how I met my agent now, so that is a break I am very grateful for!

Now, an interview with a Derek star wouldn't be complete without asking a question about Gervais and Pilkington.

What is Ricky like to work with?
Bit quiet really.........Ha! No, he is fascinating to watch as he is constantly coming up with new material. There is probably another 2 series' worth of scenes that just didn't fit into 24 minutes! Ricky is all about the work and since the first audition I have felt free to come up with some of my own lines and ideas. This is quite liberating as an actor.

Does Karl have a laugh, or is he serious on set? Did you witness any of his witty gems?
Karl is, I'm glad to say, very much like the man you see on TV. Quiet, but not afraid to say exactly what is on his mind, genuine and funny, which is why the world has fallen for him I think. And I must say it is often very hard to keep a straight face when most of the cast have a background in comedy!

David Earl’s portrayal of Kev probably scares most of the female population of Britain. No, I didn’t ask Holli about Kev’s ‘sex pudding,’ but I did ask if she was scared.

David Earl, aka Kev with his 'Sex Pudding' face
Did 'Kev' scare you whilst filming?
David is such a lovely and humble guy in real life, but as soon as he turns into Kev he changes completely. He is one of my favourite characters as he does make you cringe but without being able to take your eyes off his brilliantly sleazy performance!

After having the pleasure of speaking to Holli it was clear that she wasn't going to let her new-found fame go to her head. She's a class act – a hard worker, grounded, humble, very funny and very personable. She has a true, genuine passion for acting, shown by the variety of roles she has taken on during her career to date.

What's next for Holli? What can we hope to see you in?
Oooh well the next programme you will see me in is a big contrast to 'Derek'. 'The Ice Cream Girls' is a 3-part ITV drama based on a book by Dorothy Koomson, but heavily adapted for TV. It's a tense thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. I play 'Young Poppy' and it airs on ITV in Spring.

Who is your hero?
This is going to sound rehearsed but my heroes are real life people, much like Derek, who work to make the world a better place, whether on a big or a small scale. There are a lot of incredible people in the world but they are often 'The Underdog' as the wrong qualities are being celebrated these days.

Which actor do you aspire to be like?
I have never been one to compare myself to another, we are all individual but I do respect actors like Ben Kingsley and Gene Wilder. I also think Sheridan Smith and Zawe Ashton are awesome. Watching Kerry Godliman 'act' in Derek is such a pleasure - so real and effortless but full of Heart.

We've talked acting, we've talked Derek, now I wanted to know a little more about Holli.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would BAN IGNORANCE....On all levels....Imagine that. Ahh, Bliss!

Tell us one thing about Holli we wouldn't know already?
I have never been on Holiday to a hot country....or anywhere really!

And on the back of Derek Episode 2, there was one question I really wanted to ask:

Do you actually think you look like Posh Spice?
Haha - no, not even a little bit. When I was little people used to call me 'Baby Spice' because of the long blonde pigtails. I think my character 'Vicky' is trying to become all the people she idolises, i.e. Victoria Beckham, without realising she actually worked really hard to get where she is. I think people want more and more nowadays but want to put in less effort.

Holli is a true professional, a born star and Derek will no doubt be the platform for even greater things as her career goes from strength to strength.

Keep up to date with Holli (and Vicky) by following her on Twitter @HolliDee and like her Facebook page at

Thanks Holli

© M. A. Sibson
All images courtesy of Channel 4
Twitter: @tadpole_hitler

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