ANNE-MARIE Duff has played her share of “greasy haired women in potato sacks” on the set of council-estate drama Shameless, but now she’s due to dazzle in posh frocks in the TV event of the year.
The 41-year-old actress, who has a two-year-old son with her screen god husband James McAvoy, has won nominations and awards galore for her roles as John Lennon’s mother in Nowhere Boy, Elizabeth I in The Virgin Queen and Fiona Gallagher in Shameless.
And she’s likely to collect more as dreamy romantic Edith in a sumptuous new BBC costume drama that is set rival fellow period drama Downton Abbey.
Set during the First World War, Parade’s End is adapted by Tom Stoppard from novels by Ford Madox Ford. It’s Downton with a degree – and a cast to die for.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall top the bill but there are roles – some of them little more than cameos – for Rupert Everett, Miranda Richardson, Rufus Sewell and many more.
Anne-Marie’s character Edith is unhappily married but “she falls in love with another man and her whole world changes.”
The man in question is played by Boardwalk Empire’s Stephen Graham, with whom Anne-Marie gets to be “hilariously saucy” with, “and there’s a sex scene,” she giggles.
Which, curiously enough, is how she met her husband, on the set of Shameless. “We filmed our first sex scene on the second day of the shoot. So it was like, ‘Oh, hello, how do you do?’ But it didn’t work out too badly, did it?” she laughs.
Indeed not. The couple have been married since 2006 and are blissfully happy by all accounts (except their own, because they have a pact never to discuss each other in public).
“I’m very much a family person,” says Anne-Marie. “But before you have children you think, ‘Oh I get it,’ when you don’t really get it at all. You don’t understand the intensity of the feeling. On a practical level, too, it changes everything.