I TALK TO Charly Clive

The name Charly Clive might mean very little to you now, but if her television debut as the lead in Channel 4's comedy drama Pure is anything to go by, we're going to be seeing a lot more of her in the coming years.

"I'm really proud of the show and I hope it makes people stop and think about OCD a bit."

When Charly was 23, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour which she called Britney, a name she later gave to her comedy duo with her best friend Ellen Robertson. After selling out the Edinburgh Fringe with the true story of what happens to two best friends when one of them gets a brain tumour, Charly is ready to make the move to the small screen by playing the lead in Pure.

Channel 4's new six-part series based on Rose Cartwright's follow's Charly's character, 24-year-old Marnie, who has a form of OCD called Pure O which fills her head with intrusive thoughts of a sexual nature.

Leaving Scotland in search of a new life in London, Marnie soon discovers she’s not the only one who’s lost. As she searches for herself, Marnie finds a gang of new friends, all with their own foibles and moves in with her deceptively cheery old school friend Shereen.

She also befriends Charlie, who is in recovery, having torpedoed his love and work life, due to his porn addiction. Queen among Marnie’s new gang is journalist and ladies-woman, Amber who has been gaining a problematic rep. for her promiscuity. Then there’s Amber’s housemate, the irresistible and unassuming Joe with whom Marnie shares a will-they-won't-they friendship with.

Here's what Charly had to say when I caught up with her for a chat...

How did you get the part of Marnie in Pure? Because your background is in comedy...

Yes it has and I've always been interested in acting. It's something I've always done and always pursued but my background as you say, is really in comedy. That's where most of my work has been up until now, writing and performing as part of a comedy duo with my best friend Ellen Robertson. We were doing shows up in Edinburgh as Britney and started getting a bit of success and at the time I didn't have any representation but somebody saw our sketch show and recommended that the producers of Pure checked me out. So they found some stuff of me online, invited me in to read for the role and after a few more rounds of auditions, I ended up getting the role. Which was crazy as it was the first television role that I ever auditioned for.

That must have been pretty surreal to get the lead in a Channel 4 drama as your first role?

I couldn't believe it when I got asked to audition. I was so excited that Channel 4 were doing a show and when I got the script I really liked it and thought I could actually do this.

So I went in and read and thought that even if I did get a role in the show, it would never be for the lead character. I thought maybe there'd be a character in there who had a couple of lines that I could say. I guess me and Marnie were just a good fit.

Did you find the experience quite daunting?

It was before we started filming because the idea of it all seemed slightly incomprehensible, but now that we've finished filming and I've seen how it's turned out, I just can't wait for everyone to see it. I'm so excited and really proud of the show.

If you'd asked me a year ago how I felt, I probably wouldn't have been able to answer in a full sentence but I'm feeling pretty good about it now.

What is Pure then?

It's a comedy drama about a young woman named Marnie who has a condition called Pure O which is a type of OCD where you get these intrusive and unwanted thoughts. Marnie's are of a sexual nature.

She runs away after a pretty hectic day at her parents' wedding anniversary party in Scotland to London, to figure out how best she can live happily with her diagnosis, to meet new people and to find her new place in the world in London.

How much did you know about Pure O before taking on the role?

I'd never heard of it until I got sent the script. I thought I knew what OCD was, I think everybody sort of does, but it made me feel very uninformed because I thought I was decently versed in the idea of mental health and OCD yet I had no idea about it.

After doing a bit of research, I saw that it's actually really not that uncommon and there are lots of different types of Pure O. Marnie's is just one type. It's such a complex disorder.

I then read Rosie's book and it was so funny and so relatable, even to someone who hasn't got Pure O. I couldn't believe that I hadn't heard of it before.

Was Rose Cartwright, the author of the book Pure is based on, around much during filming?

Yes, we were really lucky that Rose was on set for a bit which was particularly nice for me because the most important thing to me was that Marnie would be very authentic and that my performance would do justice to Rose's experiences.

She was happy with it luckily, she really loved being on set and was an open book for me. We met up a couple of times before and during filming so that I could ask her questions and get some insight on some more detailed aspects of Pure O as well as Rose's life in general. That was totally invaluable for me as an actor.

I think I was a lot more nervous than Rose because I didn't really know what to expect from her as I'd read her book and really enjoyed it. She's really lovely, really funny and super easy to talk to. I felt very safe to ask any questions.

You mentioned earlier that Pure is a comedy drama, was it quite nice for you to have that light and shade in Marnie's story?

I think you really own the dramatic moments if the comedy is good. It felt really necessary that there should be moments where you can really laugh and really like this gang of people which makes it even more impactful when the reality of the dark side of the disorder comes out. It sticks with you that much more because you've had the comedy.

Let's talk about your accent then, because I couldn't believe after watching Pure that you're not Scottish! Had you always been able to do the accent?

Because I'd been doing comedy for a long time, sketch comedy is all about characters and voices, so I've always been quite well practised at accents which I think really really helped.

I've also always been around many different accents - my mum is American and Mexican and my dad's English so we've always had a lot of accents and dialects in the house. Which has meant that I've always been able to pick things up quite quickly.

That being said, when I got the role I was very lucky that I got to work with an amazing vocal coach, Penny Dyer, who was just totally brilliant with me and gave me lots of different exercises to do on my own on set to stay in the accent as much as possible.

Also, Kirstie Swain, who wrote the scripts, was on set quite a lot and she is Scottish - in fact she's from where Marnie's from - so any time that I felt things slipping I could just look over to her and get a quick Scottish 101 and I'd be in again.

What was the wedding anniversary part scene like to film?

Pretty bizarre! It's strange because when we rocked up in the morning there were lots of people milling around because there's a lot of crowd in that scene - all the friends and family of Marnie's parents whose anniversary it is.