It took seven years, but Scottish actor Simone Lahbib and the rest of the cast of Bad Girls have finally arrived in the United States. Beginning this week, all eight seasons of the popular and award-winning British prison drama begin airing on cable channel Logo, AfterEllen.com’s parent company.
Going far beyond women-in-prison stereotypes, Bad Girls featured one of the best-developed lesbian relationships in TV history, between prison warden Helen Stewart (Lahbib) and inmate Nikki Wade (Mandana Jones). A rule-abiding prison official who was straight at the beginning of the series, Helen struggles over the first few seasons to address problems in the prison system while coming to terms with her growing attraction to Nikki.
Now 41, Lahbib currently stars in the British crime drama Wire in the Blood, based on lesbian author Val McDermid’s novels, and she has a one-year-old daughter with her husband, actor Raffaello Degruttola. AfterEllen.com recently talked with Lahbib about her latest role, her experiences making Bad Girls, and the media attention that surrounded the controversial show.
AfterEllen.com: Could you tell me about Alex Fielding, the character you play in Wire in the Blood?
We’re just about to start what will be my second [season] and Wire’ s fifth. Each episode is 90 minutes, shot on film, and looks fantastic. It’s been referred to as a British CSI, which is a fair comparison as it comes at the cases from a forensics point of view, then adds a criminal psychologist [Tony Hill, played by Robson Green].
AE: There seems to be a lot of tension between Alex and Tony.
AE: Does the role get under your skin a little?
AE: It’s striking how different the tone of Wire is, compared to Bad Girls — and how different Alex is from Helen Stewart, the prison warden you played on Bad Girls.
What I loved about Bad Girls is that it shed light on so many issues. The prison side of it aside, it really explored women’s issues, whether behind bars or in general life. I think it was a really important program, and I’m sad it’s been pulled.
AE: Can you talk about a couple of the issues the show raised that most interested you?