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Becci digs for victory; TELLY VIEW by Roz Laws.

BECCI Gemmell thinks she's inherited her love of acting from her father.

He's a trained thespian, who's now performing on a different stage - in church, as a vicar.

But there is a constant reminder of his more flamboyant past, to be found - or at least heard - in the Black Country Living Museum.

"My dad is the voice of the museum coal mine!" reveals Becci, who returns to TV this week in another series of Land Girls.

"He's the narrator, welcoming everyone to the exhibit. "He got the gig about 30 years ago. He's from the area - my grandparents lived in Dudley and my parents lived in Old Hill for a while.

"Dad trained at Birmingham School of Speech and Drama. He acted for a few years but then he chose to become a vicar.

"So he's known as the Rev Ian Gemmell, working in Welford in Northamptonshire.

He used to do sketches at the General Synod.

"Giving sermons is sophisticated showing off really, isn't it? "I think there must be something in the genes that I've inherited form him. My acting career was on the cards from when I played a chicken in the school play, aged five."

Becci was born in Birmingham and grew up near Market Harborough in Leicestershire - and the Midland links continue with Land Girls. It's made in the region and she plays Joyce Fisher, a hairdresser from Coventry. The first series was screened to mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two, and was such a success that a second series was commissioned.

Now the Women's Land Army return for five episodes shown every afternoon this week on BBC1.

It's again set at rundown Pasture Farm and opulent Hoxley Manor - in reality, the Warwickshire locations of a farm near Henley-in-Arden and Arbury Hall in Nuneaton.

The series gets off to a flying start when Joyce's husband John arrives in an RAF Tiger Moth and takes her up in the air for a romantic birthday treat. "Unfortunately they wouldn't really let me fly in it," says Becci. "But I was taxied around, which was hilarious as I was wearing half a wig and it's open top."

It's a brief moment of happiness for Joyce, whose family were killed in the Coventry Blitz, whose best friend Nancy left last series and whose husband is away fighting. Becci says: "It's really hard for her, having to get up at 6am to dig potatoes, not knowing if her husband is still alive. We get to do more farming this series.

"I saw 'tilling' in the script and thought 'What's that? Am I on the till at Sainsbury's?' It's actually preparing the soil for crops, digging out massive rocks and sheep poo.

"Joyce has got nothing else to do so she throws herself into her work. They'd be doing it for 14 hours a day, though I admit I sometimes thought 'Crikey, I'm bored of this after an hour'.

"Joyce gets more excitement than she bargained for in one episode when she tackles a German soldier who's been shot down. She points a gun at his chest and says she's going to kill him.

"She surprises herself with her strength and steeliness. The way she deals with him changes her."

FACT FILE NAME: Becci Gemmell AGE: 27 CV: She made her TV debut in 2009 as a policewoman in the comedy Home Time before starring in Land Girls. She also toured with the stage version of Lark Rise To Candleford. FANCY THAT: Becci studied drama with Doctor Who star Matt Smith. She won a Royal Television Society award for Best Newcomer.


HIGH-FLYERS: Becci Gemmell, left with Seline Hizli and Jo Woodcock in Land Girls.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 16, 2011
Next Article:Time to pull the plug, Adrian; TELLY VIEW by Roz Laws: TELLY TALK with roz laws.

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