AE: What do you think it is about Sam that will make half the audience root for her, instead of Frankie?
HP: We have made her quite exciting, sexually; she is a bit of a goer. I had nine sex scenes in total, and in almost every scene, I was snogging Laura! There is definitely an edge to her.
I didn’t think that in The L Word, the storyline in Series 2 involving Helena and Bette and Tina worked because you didn’t want Helena and Tina to be together. But with this storyline, I think we have created enough tension that the audience will be split over who they want Cat to be with. Sam is offering Cat more of a steady relationship. She is very sorted and together.
I had such a brilliant time playing her but I’ve asked my mother not to watch it because that would be my worst nightmare! [all laugh] I won’t have any of my friends ’round to watch it either.
AE: Surely, they will watch though.
HP: Yes, they will all watch it but just not with me in the room! My mum says to me, "Oh, it’s just sex," and although I have done sex scenes before, it has never been as overt as this.
AE: Since [the soap opera] Emmerdale, you have worn a lot of uniforms in your acting roles and you are once again a policewoman in Lip Service, why do you think that is?
HP: I think I am typecast to a degree but I love it! I get to play roles that lots of boys would love to do, so I am happy to keep going with it. My mum would like to see me in a costume drama but that isn’t ever going to happen.
AE: This year was your first year on the Independent on Sunday‘s "Pink List," how did it feel to be the UK’s 40th most influential gay?
HP: My mum told me I had made it on and she was really excited. I wasn’t too sure what it meant, if I am truthful. But after having a look at all the amazing people that were on the list, I just felt thrilled by it.
AE: There’s a good chance, in next year’s "Pink List," you will be placed much higher because of your role on Lip Service.
HP: Well yes, maybe. When I started out in my career, being gay was still a big issue in the press. And they were outing people for no reason and not thinking about the consequences. I have always been out but when I was younger, I didn’t really talk about it and I did think it could be detrimental to my career.
I do think if there had been an actress that was openly gay when I was starting out, it would have made things easier for me. It’s so important for young people to have role models. But I do completely understand why some actors and actresses don’t come out. Because although things have moved on a bit, it can affect people’s careers, even though it is complete nonsense for people to think that just because you are an openly gay woman, you can’t play opposite a man.
AE: Now you will be a role model for young gay actresses. I do think it is important that there is someone gay in a show like Lip Service to signal that change.
HP: I think so too, but I think it is equally significant that each of the other actresses [on the show] thought it was a really important story to tell. [They] felt passionate about the story, regardless of the fact that they would be playing gay characters.
AE: Was this project so special to you because it was a lesbian drama or because you just felt that the show was good?
HP: It was a combination of both. I thought the script was good but when you also know that what you’re doing is possibly groundbreaking, then that’s really exciting as an actor.
AE: Do you think your other cast members make convincing lesbians?
HP: Yes I do. And I think Ruta, especially, does a fine job as Frankie. She is absolutely spot on. I think it is inevitable that she will be compared to Shane in The L Word but really, she plays the type of gay girl that I see out and about so often now. But really, what does a gay girl look like these days?