The Raison being
- Credit: Archant
A film set on the Norfolk coast sounded like the perfect project for actress Miranda Raison, who was born at Burnham – but it was not quite as idyllic as it sounded.
She spent February on a cold, wet and windy Happisburgh beach filming for horror movie Afterdeath and when we speak, she has just returned to film the final few shots.
“Although it is supposed to be summer, it was horrible weather,””she laughs. “It was properly bleak. When we filmed in February some of the scenes involved us being in the sea, so you can imagine just how cold it was. But sadly it wasn’t that different when I returned. It was the first time I have ever filmed anything in Norfolk and it was pretty grim. But Afterdeath is a horror film so, while I would have preferred the sunshine to show off how beautiful our coast is, the wintry weather made it very atmospheric and the conditions were perfect for the story.””
Since graduating from the Webber Douglas drama school, Miranda’s career has flourished, with numerous stage roles, including a critically acclaimed performance as Anne Boleyn at the Globe Theatre, a role alongside Scarlett Johansson in Woody Allen’s film Match Point and countless television appearances.
But it was her role as secret agent Jo Portman in BBC series Spooks which really launched her career. This year has seen her star as Harriet in the BBC One legal drama Silk and she has just starting filming for new 10-part television series Spotless. The dark comedy series has a strong cast, including Downton Abbey’s Brendan Coyle, who lives near Hunstanton, and is being filmed in London.
Born in Burnham Thorpe, Miranda still retains strong links to the county and her mother Caroline, a former Anglia Television newsreader, and brother Ed still live locally.
Her father Nick, a jazz pianist, who remarried and has three further children, lives in the Suffolk town of Aldeburgh where Miranda has her own cottage. The family are close and she returns home as often as she can to spend time with her siblings.
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“There is nowhere like it. I just feel a total affinity with East Anglia. I love it; the sky, the light and when the sun is out that vibrant mix of colours wherever you look.”
Since buying her cottage in Aldeburgh, she has found another way of relaxing – playing golf. “I’m a member of Aldeburgh Golf Club and am having lessons in London. I’m mad keen, although not quite as good as I am keen”, she says.
She describes an idyllic Norfolk childhood but concedes that she had tough periods during her school years.
“We lived in Burnham Thorpe and I went to the local primary school in Burnham Market with my brother and we absolutely loved it. They were very happy times. Now, it is a standing joke among my friends that I am permanently cold, but growing up I was much tougher, I was always outside whatever the weather. I think there is something about living in rural Norfolk which makes you pretty hardy.”
When her parents separated, her father moved to Suffolk and her mum decided to stay in Norfolk, with Miranda and her brother starting at boarding school.
“I was nearly 10 and my brother was eight. The first couple of years I quite enjoyed it, but then I found it really tough,” she says. “It is a very sensitive age when you reach 12 or 13 and being at a co-ed boarding school I found it very hard. You go through a lot of changes physically and emotionally and I wanted to do my growing up in private, away from school. It must be awful now for girls with social media as you can’t even escape the pressures of school when you are at home.
“It was a challenging time, and I was bullied by some of the girls, but I was very lucky. I was very open with my parents about how unhappy I was and I asked to go to a different school. Thankfully, they really listened to me and took on board what I was saying. So for me it was not the devastating experience it could have been.””
It was the move to the now closed Felixstowe College that cemented her interest in acting and she began getting more involved in drama and school productions.
“I did always enjoy drama but when the bullying thing happened I lost confidence. I felt a new freedom to pursue it when I moved schools. We had brilliant drama teachers at Felixstowe, they were so inspirational.”
“Everyone was thinking about A-Levels and universities but I had made the decision that I wanted to act as a career and wanted to go to drama school. I was thinking ‘Well, I will have a couple of Oscars by the time I am 21, no question’ – that lovely self belief that your parents instil in you as a child and then it gets kicked out of you for the next 15 years as you go out into the world!”
Last year she landed a role in the US series 24, set in England for the first time.
“I saw Kiefer’s (Sutherland) huge, silver trailer parked up on my first day and I just thought this is going to be a lot of fun. To be honest though I was most excited about working alongside Stephen Fry. I thought this is my chance. In 2010 I was asked to be an ambassador for the Norwich City of Culture bid along with Stephen and, of course, I jumped ahead to the future and had this vision of me and him becoming best friends, hanging out together in north Norfolk,” she chuckles. “Of course, it didn’t happen, so finally to have the chance to work with him was lovely and of course we talked a lot about Norfolk.”