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I TALK TO Hannah Tointon

Following on from my chat with Kara Tointon I also spoke to Hannah Tointon about what it was like working with her big sister on Mr Selfridge.

This weekend sees the return of hit ITV period drama Mr Selfridge, which follows the fascinating rise and fall of Mr Selfridge, a colourful but troubled man who owns the London department store Selfridges.


The third series begins in 1919 just after the end of World War I, and as the story has moved on five years, the character of Violette Selfridge has been recast. Violette is now played by Hannah Tointon (Hollyoaks) and her older sister in real-life, Kara Tointon (EastEnders) plays her older and more sensible sister, Rosalie in Mr Selfridge,


So first of all congratulations on the new role. You're working alongside your real-life sister (Kara Tointon) in this, how did that come about?


Well, we thought they were like - "Can we have two sisters?" (Laughs) But actually what happened was that both our names came up for both of the roles... and then they were like - "Ah! We need sisters."


We both auditioned and we were really worried that one of us would get the part and the other one wouldn't. We didn't mind if we both didn't get it, but we didn't want just one of us to get it! Thankfully we both got the part so it was fine in the end.


And what's it been like working with your Sister?


It's amazing. We love it. We definitely were a little bit worried because obviously it's crossing over from private life to work life, which is weird. But actually it's been so lovely and the first time on set we were like - "Can't believe we were worried! This is so nice." We're very close which makes it so easy.


In Mr Selfridge you play the more rebellious sister, and Kara's character is more sensible. Would you say that's reflective of real life?


I think an older sibling and younger sibling relationship is always a bit like that. I would say that there are characteristics that are similar... I'm definitely not crazy.


I think we both meet a bit more in the middle in the real life. In the show there's a definite separation, Rosalie feels very protective and is always the one having to do the right thing. Whereas my character doesn't care!


Were you a fan of Mr Selfridge before getting the role?


Yeah absolutely. I hadn't watched every episode so when I got the part I watched the boxset but I definitely loved the show and watched it quite a few times. It's just a really fun show.


It's really interesting and what's lovely about it is that my character was a real person. So I had to research into the character and that's really rare. You don't really get to play parts that were actually around, so that's what has been really lovely about it. My mum and dad loved it as well so for them it's really great! (Laughs)


There's a fair bit of choreography for your character. What was that like?


It was quite hard! I thought it was going to be easy. I thought it was just going to be a few sways and maybe a spin, but actually it was quite difficult. Acting as you're doing it as well is very hard. It's a bit like patting your head and rubbing your belly!


Did Kara give you any tips, having won Strictly Come Dancing?


She didn't actually, but I was like... "Why are you not getting her to dance? This is crazy!" But no, she didn't but I got by. I muddled my way through it. I was nowhere near as good as her.


We've spoken a lot about Kara, but of course you're working alongside Jeremy Piven as well, he plays your dad. What has it been like working with him?

He is lovely. He's really welcoming and really helps with the acting. He's always saying "Do you want to go again?" and he's just been very welcoming.


It was very easy actually, as a family unit we get on so well and honestly it's like the nicest days on set. We're in a big group having these big family dinners and everyone's just really nice.


What sort of a dad is Harry Selfridge?


Well because Rose has died, it's put a big strain on the family and you'd probably think that they all pull together, but actually there's a lot of, what I think is resentment.


I think my character, Violette, is very aware of how he treated Rose and so there's a lot o anger there. Their relationship in particular is very strained in the series. The idea is that Violette is very much like her father, they're very two peas in a pod, and they have this relationship where they're always sparring and arguing.


I think Harry wants to treat her like a little girl almost. He's not really letting her grow, and I think that's why she rebels. It's a classic example of a dad not wanting to see her girl grow up, so that's basically what's happening in this series.


Will you be watching yourself when it airs?


I hate watching myself! It's actually a horrible experience, but I try and do it because I find it really helps and you learn a lot for the next thing you do! (Laughs) Because obviously you can't go back and do it again! You have to have a level head watching it, because really what you want to do is go - "Oh can I change that? And do this different?" But you can't do that so you have to watch it and say "Argh! That's cringey but I've just got to let it go."


Mr Selfridge returns Sunday 25th January at 9pm on ITV

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