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Culture: Birth of a class act; Zoe Henry tells Sarah Waterfall how pregnancy proved no problem in her latest project.

Byline: Sarah Waterfall

The BBC's digital channel BBC Three has done pretty well for itself in spotting future cult hits.

Comedy Little Britain, which first screened on the channel, has become hugely popular, and now thriller Conviction, from Sunday November 7, could be next.

The crime series, from the producers of Clocking Off and The Second Coming, stars David Warner, Reece Dinsdale, William Ash, Ian Puleston-Davies, Nicholas Gleaves and Zoe Henry.

The story revolves around the murder of a 12-year-old girl but what sets it apart from other thrillers is a conflicted and dysfunctional family at the centre of the story.

Two of the police team working on the case are brothers (played by Nicholas Gleaves and William Ash) and their sister (Zoe Henry) is providing legal counsel for the initial main suspect. All in all it makes for a volatile investigation.

Be warned that it does contain a certain amount of graphic violence - have a cushion to hand.

Ex-Emmerdale actress Zoe was delighted to bag her central role as lawyer Beth. But for a time the 31-year-old wasn't sure if she was going to be able to hang on to it.

Married to Emmerdale actor Jeff Hordley - aka Cain Dingle - the couple are expecting their first child any day.

'I found out I was three months pregnant just as we started shooting - I had no idea,' she says. 'I was terrified I would be sacked.'

Fortunately no one batted an eyelid and a pregnancy for Zoe's character was promptly written in.

'I was so pleased that they weren't furious. I didn't really start to show until about a month ago anyway,' says Zoe, who's due in early November, patting a neat bump. 'It's not that big is it? I just look like I've eaten quite a few pies and chocolates, which I have.

'I always imagined that I wouldn't work when I got pregnant. Youknow what it's like in this industry, everyone looks thin and neat and lovely - who wants someone who looks like they've been troughing for seven months?

'I'm two and a half stone heavier than I normally am - most of that's my boobs unfortunately.'

As easy as it was to write the baby into the drama, Zoe didn't have such a smooth ride filming.

'I was asleep most of the time,' she says of the four months shooting in Manchester. 'I've had no sickness but I've been exhausted. Even if I had a 20-minute break I'd go off for a quick nap, then come back do my lines then go back to bed again.

'Thank God I'm good at power napping. I can sleep anywhere - I've even slept at concerts. I think pregnant women store up sleep because they know they're not going to get much when the baby arrives. 'I'd kill to make another series, it would be wicked. I wish I hadn't have been pregnant. I'd be be tucked up when everyone was going out for dinner. I was no fun at all.'

Jeff and Zoe met at drama school. After three weeks they moved in together and have been married for one year of the ten they've already notched up. Jeff has said it was love at first sight.

'Well, I loved his shoes, I remember that,' jokes Zoe. 'No, it was pretty instantaneous - when you know, you know.

'Ultimately the thing that's most important to both of us is we make each other laugh a lot - that's fundamental.'

They're hoping the new addition will arrive at the home they've just moved into in Manchester.

'We've literally just moved back up north from London. Apparently loads of women do move just before they give birth, so I'm reassured. It must be a homing instinct.

'It's going to be a home birth if we can. We've hired a pool and we're just going to see what happens. I imagine I'll be in it for five minutes and then whisked off to the local hospital.

'I'm terrified of giving birth. Cut to early November and I bet I'm wired up to everything they've got.'

Until the baby arrives Zoe can't be sure what she's going to do next as far as work's concerned.

'Other projects are on hold unless people need something that resembles a small beach ball,' she jokes. 'I'm not prepared to form any opinions about whether I should be working till I've had the baby. The best laid plans go to waste.

'I'm sure I'll feel very differently when the baby's here so we're going to wait and see.'

Despite both attending the same drama school and being involved in theatre company Home Grown, Zoe and Jeff have only worked together on one show - Emmerdale. 'I've had two spells in Emmerdale. I went in for a one-off job of seven episodes playing Rhona Goskirk and just under a year later they called me back to do more.

'I got to do stuff with Jeff which was really nice but a bit bizarre because our characters didn't get on.

'I think Jeff does an amazing job. He's nothing like Cain - he'd run a mile at a fight. As Cain he's got that kind of mean and moody look which, bizarrely, I'd never seen before. Jeff's a softie and a real romantic.

'We're very supportive of each other. He really enjoyed watching Conviction although the first thing he said to me was, 'Dodgy hair',' she laughs.

The actress admits her own parents weren't sure about their daughter's move into showbusiness.

'There's no history of acting in our family so I think they were a bit shocked when I said I wanted to act. Dad was keen for me to have another string to my bow. I'm hoping that it wasn't because he didn't have faith in me. 'During every holiday during drama school I worked as a care worker to earn money. And while I was filming Conviction I passed my NVQ in care. When I'm out of work it's what I do.

'Stuff like that keeps your feet on the ground.'


Zoe Henry as Beth in Conviction
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 4, 2004
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