Interview Jessica Raine: ‘My school careers adviser told me I could be a secretary’

The actor on shutting down ambitions, clueless politicians and embarrassing farts

Born in Herefordshire, Jessica Raine, 36, graduated from Rada in 2008. She was cast as the lead in the first Call The Midwife in 2012, and made three series. Her subsequent television work includes Line Of Duty, Patrick Melrose and Baptiste. She appears in Simon Amstell’s feature film debut, Benjamin, in cinemas on 15 March. Raine is married to the actor Tom Goodman-Hill; they live in London and are expecting their first child.

When were you happiest? 
The day I got accepted by Rada and the day I found out I was pregnant, both a long time coming. I am a late bloomer.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 
I can be terribly tactless.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? 
Arrogance and the inability to listen.

What was your most embarrassing moment? 
When I was about eight, my parents had my mum’s family over. We didn’t see them as often as my dad’s side, so it felt quite formal. I was bored and leaning against a wall when, to my utter surprise, I released an almighty fart. My sister burst out laughing, but I was mortified and fled the room in tears.

What makes you unhappy? 
Receiving unbuttered toast.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 
“No worries.” It’s hypocritical, because I worry quite a bit.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? 
Lots of things, but the flaws are what make us. I’ve always appreciated my dad once saying to me that I have an interesting face as opposed to a beautiful face. It was a good thing to say to a daughter.

Who would play you in the film of your life? 
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose? 
I’d like to see my gran one more time for a chat.

What is your most unappealing habit? 
When I’m really enjoying my food and I’m with someone I’m very comfortable with, I can forget to close my mouth.

What is your favourite smell? 
The first gasp of air after the long car journey from London to the Welsh borders, where I grew up.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? 
I was fidgety and clueless for a long time.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you? 
When I said I was interested in acting, my school careers adviser said I could be a secretary. The attitude that you could do anything was firmly shut down.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Berlin in the 1920s – so naughty and exciting.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? 
Tom.

Which living person do you most despise, and why? 
Clueless politicians.

What is the worst job you’ve done? 
A temp job at BT. I still have nightmares about ADSL lines. I still don’t know what one is. I would find myself on national conference calls being questioned about ADSL lines and told that the problem was in London. I would try not to breathe so they would forget I was there.

How often do you have sex? 
I’m 40 weeks pregnant… ask me later.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you? 
None of us know the steps and there’s no music playing.

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