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'Time to go back to blonde, it's much more me'.

new role Zoe Lucker as Kate Keenan in Holby Blue, which starts on BBC1 at 8pm tomorrow

SHE blusters into the room, apologising profusely for her lateness and explaining the nightmare she has had with her taxi this morning.

It's clear that Zoe Lucker is nothing like superbitch Tanya Turner, the character she's so famous for playing.

Zoe, the Huddersfield actress looking glamorous in a simple black shirt dress, is warm and bubbly.

She flashes a huge grin when reference is made to her blonde hair, which has recently returned after a spell of brownness, for her new role as police station receptionist Kate Keenan in Holby Blue.

"I always find changing hair colour synonymous with one specific character. Because I've always been blonde, psychologically it does have an effect on me when I go darker.

"I loved playing Kate, but it got to the end and it was kind of like, right, it's time to go back to blonde! I don't think it's so much that blondes have more fun, I just feel it's much more me."

Although the dark hair may have offered Zoe a bit of anonymity when she was out and about, she says some people still get her muddled up with other celebs, even when she's blonde.

But with a part in a prime-time BBC drama Zoe probably won't be mistaken for other stars much longer.

She has made no secret of the fact that she would love to settle down and have children, so playing mother-of- two Kate was good practice for her.

"I loved playing a mum and having these two sweet kids, but it isn't me. Not at this stage anyway," she says.

And although she differs from her character in that respect Zoe says there are some similarities in their personalities.

"I love children and I'm very motivated by love, friendship and happiness. Kate's a person I like very much and I'd like to have as a friend.

Kate, and indeed Zoe, seem worlds away from Tanya Turner, Footballers' Wives' money-grabbing serial bride. While Zoe has waved goodbye to Earls Park she says she will miss the show.

"It's great fun playing bitches, but the thing I probably enjoyed most about Tanya was trying to make sure she wasn't just a bitch, that there was a fragility to her that meant people would go along with the storylines."

While Zoe is hoping audiences will enjoy Holby Blue as much as she enjoyed making it, she's not convinced it should be turned into a serial drama, saying it would work much better as a series of eight shows.

Last year she flew to Zambia with Voluntary Service Overseas, an experience she will never forget.

"You could never say: 'Yeah it was brilliant', because it's a very emotional experience and you so desperately want to help these people, who are the most personable, selfless, unassuming people I've ever come across.

"All you want to do is put across is that they don't want massive handouts. They just want to be self- sufficient."

Zoe also travelled to India to meet the Dalai Lama. She confides: "I'm not a practising Buddhist, but I've often found things like the Dalai Lama's teachings reassuring and comforting."

Speaking of meeting the Dalai Lama Zoe says: "He was about five feet away and it's the first time I've been starstruck in my life.

"The Dalai Lama is such a huge icon, and normally in a situation like that people would be freaking out. But everyone just sits and waits their turn.

"When he walked in my whole body just went like pins and needles and cold and it made me cry. It was involuntary. It sounds so soppy, but I was completely overwhelmed," she laughs.

"He looked over and smiled and waved and I couldn't smile enough. It was the most profound moment."
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:May 7, 2007
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