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I've got a man and a house but I'm not about to settle down.. there's too much work out there for me; CATRIN POWELL ON LOVE, ACTING AND HER DREAM JOB.

Byline: ANNIE LEASK

A T the age of 28 Catrin Powell has finally bought a house of her own. But even though she's had it for four months she's yet to spend a night in it.

After a successful stint in BBC 1's Border Cafe, with close friend Nia Roberts, a leading role in S4C's Lechyd Da and a big part in new drama Y Ty - destined to be the Welsh answer to Cold Feet - Catrin might have been expected to splash out on a plush pad with all mod cons.

She soon punctures that notion with a wry laugh.

"The house is in Cardiff and it was so run down that I have been doing it up since I bought it four months ago," she said.

"I knew it was in a fairly bad state when I bought it, but I didn't think it was as bad as it is.

"The bathroom suite was gross, so while I was having all the work done I decided to rip it out as well.

"At the moment there's no toilet, which was a bit of a problem for all the builders working on the place - I don't know how they managed.

"Hopefully in a couple of weeks I will be able to move in - I can't wait to close my own front door."

Despite her current success, Catrin would be the first to admit that acting has not proved to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but it is a job she loves.

She has never been one to extravagantly waste money while working, but has hung on to it to help her through the times when she is not.

She is keeping her bank manager happy at the moment - filming a second series of LechydDa and also working on the rather more controversial Y Y Ty, featuring some rather ripe language and drug taking.

But it wasn't so long ago that Catrin's most regular job was as a waitress at the Brava Cafe in Pontcanna.

"I waitressed and helped out in the kitchen for four years on and off," she said.

"I enjoyed it and it kept me solvent, but for the last two years things have been going so well that I haven't been back to the cafe." Catrin's luck changed with the acclaimed BBC Wales drama Nice Girl.

"It was based on the true story of a girl who stole her elder sister's husband and split up their family. It was pretty bleak and it was all improvised so it was quite hard not having a set script to work from.

"I played the older sister and she wanted nothing to do with the whole production so I never got to meet her. There was a lot of screeching and high emotion played out on screen, but it was well received."

CARDIFF-born Catrin then had her biggest break on network television playing Nia Roberts' sister in the drama series Border Cafe with Liz Carling portraying a disillusioned rock star.

"Nia and I played these odd sisters who hung out at the cafe owned by Liz Carling's character. They were very strange, dippy, girls who kept finishing each other's sentences.

"Originally they were going to dye my hair blonde. As it is jet black I was relieved when they changed their minds after seeing Nia and myself together.

"I am sure the fact that we knew each other beforehand helped me get the part because it wasn't so difficult for us to act like sisters. It was also great to be acting with such a good friend."

Catrin met Nia through mutual pals after they had both finished drama school. Catrin moved in to a house in Cardiff with three other girls.

"We all used to hang around in a gang together and one of the other girls knew Nia very well. We went up to London for auditions for jobs and for parties - well mainly for parties.

"By then Nia was sharing a house in north London so we used to go up and stay and her place.

"We had a great time together and whenever she came down to Cardiff we would get together."

Their favourite Cardiff haunts include the Cayo pub, HaHas and the Cameo Club.

"We just all go out and have a good time.The Cameo is in a residential street and is a wine bar that stays open until 2am.

"We don't really meet any great looking guys there, it is one of those places you go to get drunk, anyway I am usually too drunk to see them," she joked

However, even if Catrin did bump into a hunk she wouldn't be interested.

She confessed she has been in a serious relationship with a fellow actor for the past year and a half, but she prefers to keep him out of the limelight.

She does admit that settling down with her man is not on the agenda at the moment. "I am filming five days a weeks at the moment and things career-wise are on the up. Life is a bit of a whirlwind, but I am enjoying it."

CATRIN began acting aged eight after S4C came to her school looking for young talent for children's drama, Gwaed Ar Y Dagrau.

"I have got one episode on tape and I just look really shocked throughout. I didn't know what I was doing at all."

As Catrin's stepfather is veteran actor and script-writer Meic Povey, who appeared in S4C's A Mind To Kill and as a regular on Minder, it was only a matter of time before she caught the acting bug.

It actually took another eight years before Catrin was certain she was going to be an actress.

She began taking part in HTV drama workshops and at 16 won a part which ran for two years in HTV's soap Dinas.

She played rebel Bethan Saunders at the same time as studying for her A'Levels. "I did miss a lot of classes, but I am really glad I did it because it enabled me to save enough money to pay my living costs through drama school."

Catrin attended the Rose Bruford School after her A'levels.

"I did a three-year degree course and it was hard.

"At first I felt I didn't fit in and went home a lot at weekends. I gained two stones through eating rubbish in my first term, which didn't help. Then I lost it all one holiday and then everyone at college thought I was anorexic. Eventually I got boyfriends and really got into college life." Despite her new-found fame Catrin remains endearingly modest.

"When I got the call to play Liz in Lechyd Da I was very nervous because the role had already been played by another actress, Maria Pride. She left to do another job and I felt there were bound to be comparisons because I was taking over from such a good actress, but I feel much more settled now I am doing my second series.

"I actually only watched my first episode last night - I could not bear to watch it before."

One performance she is looking forward to watching is her portrayal of Rachel in Y Ty - due to be broadcast in October - about five Cardiff twenty-somethings sharing a house.

Catrin's character Rachel is "the sensible one of the house". She is always tidying up after everyone and very career-minded. Rachel is quite uptight but in one episode we see her let her hair down.

"There is only one scene where the characters do drugs on screen when they go clubbing. I don't think it is really that controversial, it is just a reflection of young people living together.

"There is a lot of swearing, but there is actually less swearing in the series than there was in the original script."

While Catrin was doing her own real-life house-sharing in Cardiff she and her house-mates sat down and put together an idea for a short film and making a movie is still a long-held ambition.

"We were drinking wine at the time and all thought it was a wonderful idea - that was probably the wine!

"It's all pie in the sky really, but I still have the piece of paper we wrote it on and you never know. I might dig it out one day."

-Lechyd Da starring Catrin goes out on S4C every Sunday evening.

CAPTION(S):

CAT'S TALE: Catrin as Rachel in S4C' show Y Ty with Mark Lewis Jones as Jim, left, and with other cast members, below
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 30, 2001
Words:1433
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