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The Box: Aches and pins.

Byline: ROZ LAWS

ACTRESS Annette Badland has been getting the needle for 30 years -and she keeps going back for more.

The Cutting It star swears by the benefits of acupuncture and has had needles stuck into her body from top to toe.

Birmingham-born Annette, who plays Brawdie Henshall in the hit BBC1 drama, first turned to the ancient Chinese practice when she wanted to lose weight and it helped her to shed more than three stone.

'I've been a pin cushion for years,' Annette says cheerfully. 'In the 1970s it was considered weird but acupuncture is more accepted now.

'I go at least once a month to feel more centred. They listen to your pulse and then put needles in appropriate points to stimulate whatever's wrong with you. I've had then on the top of my head and in the ends of my toes, which is very painful!

'There's an energy point between your thumb and index finger, putting needles in your ear lobes is supposed to make you happier and behind your ankle bone is good if you're tired.

'I don't use it to lose weight now. My acupuncturist says I can't do much to change my metabolism and this is my weight. I try to stay fit and healthy -I swim and surprised people in the last series of Cutting It when I did the disco-dancing scene which ended with the splits!

'My size does affect the roles I get. Some people are blessed by the way they look and it generates a lot of work for them. It would be great to get more leading roles and play the love interest, but beautiful actresses who are in demand in their 20s can be spent by their 30s. It's very cruel, so I'm thankful to be getting good character roles.'

Annette, 53, lives in London with her partner, actor David Hatton, whom she met in 1979. She was on stage and he was in the audience.

'He fell in love with me over the footlights and kept coming back to see me. It was rather romantic. We have no plans to marry -I want to be Annette Badland not Mrs Hatton.'

Annette, a car mechanic's daughter, was born in Small Heath, Birmingham, and grew up on Pershore Road. At 13 the family moved to near Tamworth, where her mother still lives.

She shot to fame as Charlotte, John Nettles' efficient secretary in the TV detective series Bergerac. In a Miss Marple drama she was memorably murdered and hungout on a washing line. Last year she appeared in another Agatha Christie mystery, Five Little Pigs with Hercule Poirot, and was the Queen of the Fairies in the BBC drama Indian Dream.

Annettewas also in Bornand Bred, played Brenda Blethyn's best friend in the movie Little Voice and in a dramatic episode of Holby City had an emergency Caesareanona plane. Andher voice canbeheard as DI Gwen Danbury in the Radio 4 detective series An Odd Body.

Now she's entertaining millions of viewers as the loudmouthed mother of hairdressers Allie, Darcey and Sydney in Cutting It. This week's episode sees family secrets raked up when Darcey's father, singer D.C. Washington, arrives in town.

In the first series Brawdie was a couch potato dressed in unflattering nylon tracksuits, but then she had a makeover.

'In this series she discovers Missy Elliott!' laughs Annette. 'I love reading the scripts -they're so audacious. I keep thinking 'No way, you can't have him do that!'.

'I can't believe I'm playing a great-grandmother, but that's because all these mucky girls get the urge to procreate so early!

'I didn't get recognised much in the first series when I was more disguised, but I do get stopped now. Brawdie is so awful that I could get severely challenged in the supermarket and berated while buying my baguette, but people are actually very kind. They love the series and want to know what's going to happen next, but I can never divulge anything.

'They may notice I'm not quite as big in the chest department as Brawdie. I thought she should be bustier so they sewed handfuls of birdseed into my bra. It weighs at least 2lb andmy shoulders really hurt by the end of the day!'

Looks like she'll be needing another trip to the acupuncturist.


MAKING A POINT: acupuncture fan Annette Badland off-screen, right, and with Bill Thomas in Cutting It,; below; FANTASY: Indian Dream with Nitin Ganatra; DOUBLE ACT: Annette and partner David Hatton
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 16, 2004
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