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I thought that I was too ugly to work again; From the acting scrapheap to being able to pick and choose parts, Kellie Bright has come back from the brink, says TIM RANDALL.


WITH no work coming her way and struggling to make ends meet as a shop assistant, Kellie Bright must have been wondering where her next role was coming from.

In fact, strange as it may seem, Kellie was even beginning to have doubts about her looks.

"I was going through one of the worst periods of my life," says the actress, who had previously starred in ITV sitcom The Upper Hand and radio show The Archers. "I was getting rejected from one job after another and no matter how much I tried not to take it personally, a part of me couldn't help but think: 'I was too ugly to get that part'."

Fast forward one year and she has barely been off our screens. She beat Tamzin Outhwaite to the much coveted role of Me Julie in the smash hit movie Ali G In Da House, played a lesbian city trader in top rating ITV drama Bad Girls and has just filmed The House That Jack Built, a prime time sitcom co-starring Gillian Taylforth, which begins on BBC1 this week.

It's all a long way from pricing up leggings and banging away at a till.

"Getting a run of such good jobs really gave me back my confidence and self-esteem," says Kellie.

But this isn't the first time Kellie has been down on her luck.

"For a while I worked as a receptionist in a London nightclub but it was horrible because I was just constantly ringing for ambulances. I've never seen so much violence. It was a good job because it meant I could keep my days free for auditions but I only stuck it for a month," she says, running her hands through her blonde bob.

"Another time I had just spent all my money from The Upper Hand on my first flat. I didn't have any acting work, so I got a job waiting on tables to pay the mortgage, but it was while The Upper Hand was still on air. Next thing I know, a customer had called a newspaper saying I was there and some photographers appeared out of the blue snapping away.

"The headline the next day was From Upper Hand To Helping Hand. I was quite young when that happened and that hurt me a lot."

But those times are behind her now as Kellie returns to sitcomland for the first time since her bubble-permed days in The Upper Hand.

This week, she stars alongside ex-EastEnder Gillian Taylforth and '60s heart-throb Adam Faith in The House That Jack Built.

Created by the team behind Birds Of A Feather and Goodnight Sweetheart - don't let that put you off - it's the story of self made property millionaire Jack Squire (Faith) and his spoilt and bonkers family.

They live in great style as befits Hertfordshire's first family but while Jack has worked his way up from the East End, his rich kids have only ever experienced a life of luxury.

Kellie plays daughter Lisa - the apple of Jack's eye, but also a total bitch, ensuring Kellie has some of the best lines in the show.

"I love the fact she is so shallow and bitchy - obviously she's nothing like me," says Kellie, 25, laughing. "It was quite refreshing in a way.

"Everything with her is about what is on the surface. The most important thing to Lisa is how a person looks.

"We did a pilot for the show two years ago, so it was something that had been around for a long time. I had my fingers crossed it would get made one day, but it was very much at the back of my mind.

"Then it got the green light to start just after I'd finished filming Bad Girls, so it was nice to go and do something totally different after the trauma of being locked up in jail.

"The timing couldn't have been better. I hope we get another series as I would love to do it and there is loads more you could do with the characters."

Kellie has been acting since she was 11, appearing on stage in shows such as Annie and Les Miserables, before landing a place at the Sylvia Young Theatre School alongside the likes of Denise Van Outen, Samantha Janus and Daniella Westbrook.

She was just 13 when she was cast as Joanna in The Upper Hand, playing the daughter of live-in housekeeper Charlie (Joe McGann).

"It was a brilliant time and my friends couldn't care less if I was on telly or not. Practically the whole class were either in EastEnders or Grange Hill," says the Essex-born actress, who now lives in Battersea, South London.

She then shook up Radio 4 soap The Archers as single mum Kate and starred in comedy drama The Thing About Vince, playing the soon to be married daughter of Timothy Spall. The role saw her traipsing round the set for weeks on end in a wedding dress.

"It was just bizarre," she says. "I would be standing at the catering truck with my train slung over one shoulder."

But it's not just Kellie's career that has gone skywards - her love life is also on the up. She's been going out with actor boyfriend Ross McCall, who was in Band Of Brothers, for almost a year now. They first met aged 11 when they shared the same agent, but it was only after a mutual friend set the pair up that they finally got it together. They have no plans to marry just yet.

"When I was little I had ideas of what it would be like to get married at 25 and have my first baby at 30," she says, with a grin.

"But now, as I'm getting older, it's all gone back a few years. We are not about to rush into anything, but I'm completely in love with him and he's in love with me. At least he better be."

Next up, Kellie is playing a detective in a Silent Witness two-parter and then, after her busiest working year yet, she is taking a holiday.

She says: "This has been such a good year for me that, finally, I've been able to pick and choose what I want to do and I'm very thankful."

The House That Jack Built, BBC1, Friday, 9.00pm
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Title Annotation:Cover Story
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 27, 2002
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