An interview with Anna Skellern of “Lip Service”


One of the best things about episode one of Lip Service Series 2 was undoubtedly the introduction of Sexy Lexy. As soon as we saw her swagger into Frankie and Tess’ hallway, we got on the old dog and bone and demanded an interview with her. But as Lexy doesn’t exist, we instead had a chat with actress Anna Skellern, who looks very, very like her, and seems to know an awful lot about her. Stalker. Tell us a bit about your audition process for Lexy and what you were told initially about the character.

Anna Skellern:
I was in L.A. when my agent called me about the Lip Service audition. I was about to tape it with an English accent, but then stopped. The more I thought about Lexy – who is very dry, very relaxed, irreverent, low-key and fun – the more I realised how much she’d work as an Australian. So I decided to go out on a limb and make her Australian. Luckily, it worked. I’ve done that before in auditions and they’ve looked at me as though I’ve just eaten their first-born child. But, thankfully, the Lip Service team are very open-minded. So we just sat in another friend’s little kitchen and filmed the scene where Lexy first comes view the flat. My friend Kat helped me and she made a great Tess, which really helped. I couldn’t have done it without her.

AE: Did you watch the show before you got the part and what did you think of it?

I’d watched the show before and loved it. I came across it randomly on iPlayer one day and got hooked. Shady Sadie is definitely my favourite character. She’s brilliant.

AE: What made you accept the role – was it because your character’s name rhymes with Sexy?

Ha! The other girls do tease me about that. In the end, it was just something I knew I would be proud to be associated with.

AE: How is Lexy introduced in the show and how does she fit into the wider group?

Lex is introduced in the first ep as a potential flatmate for Frankie and Tess and, to Tess’ horror, as one of Frankie’s one-night-stands. That night, she goes to Rubies with the gang, gets high and accidentally makes Cat jealous – it’s quite the entrance! Lexy fits in because she’s not like any of the other characters and, as you’ll come to see, they end up needing her.

AE: You have said before that you enjoy working with female creatives – was that something that attracted you to this show?

Hugely. It creates such a different – and fantastic – working environment. And I don’t mean women who are just perpetuating the patriarchy and behaving Thatcheresque by running things like a man. I mean women leading as women. I think that can create a really exciting and stimulating workplace. It’s also much more comfortable if you have to get your kit off!

AE: Do we detect a possible relationship between Lexy and Tess?

Possibly, but I’d be shot if I ruined the plot line. I think they’d make a great couple! They have a lot in common and get on really well. Tess is gorgeous and funny and knows how to cheer Lexy up just when she needs it. Tess is still her gloriously messy self, but she seems to have grown up a lot in the second series. I wish they’d done an episode where Tess and Lexy go to a country music festival together (hint hint for Series 3 there, Kudos), that could be highly amusing.

AE: The cast have said this series is both funny and dark – does your character bring quite a lot of the funny?

I think she does help add to the lighter side of life. Lip Service can be quite dark and Lex doesn’t like to dwell there too long. When you work in A+E and you see people die every week, the last thing you want in your personal life is anything too dramatic. I think Tess and Sadie add a lot of the humour in the second series. There is a really well written scene with Tess and Lexy in episode 3 that I find hilarious.

AE: The Lip Service cast are a tight group off-screen, so was is a bit nerve-wracking joining as the new girl or were they all welcoming and nice to you?

Looking back, it seems ridiculous that I was so nervous. But I guess we’re all wiser in hindsight. I think I’d like hindsight as a super-power. That would be brilliant. So, yes, I was nervous, but they were all incredibly warm and kind to me. I think they were probably as trepidatious about meeting me as I was of them because not getting on with people on set can be incredibly trying. Thankfully we all got along great guns. I was very impressed by how hard they all worked. So often you see actors just phoning it in, but these guys would meet the night before to work over scenes and always be open and playful and be pinging new ideas around: which is want you want as an actor. Most of us were away from home and living next door to each other, so it was easy to get to know everyone relatively quickly. Especially with the bars of Merchant City to keep us entertained!

AE: Do you still see much of the cast now?

I do, actually, they’re very special to me.

AE: In real life, your Australian accent is quite soft, but much stronger as Lexy, why did you make this choice?

My accent is all over the place. I grew up in Australia, the UK and the US, so I’m one of those highly frustrating actors whose accent changes depending on where they are. I don’t know how my family and friends put up with it! Unless I was profoundly deaf, I don’t think I could stand having a friend with my accent.

I gave Lex a stronger accent — firstly because I wanted her to be a proper Australian, not some strange hybrid like myself and secondly, because it’s sexier! I decided to vary her accent ever so slightly because I think that’s what most of us do in our own lives, even if we don’t realise it. Her accent softens when she’s at work and being her professional self but then gets a lot stronger when she’s angry or has been drinking.

AE: You have a very good lesbian walk; do you think this is because you do so much yoga?

No, it’s just because I’ve ridden lots of horses.

AE: Tell us a bit about other roles we might have seen you in before Lip Service and do you have anything else coming up?

I’ve got small roles in the new Coen Brothers written film, Gambit with Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz and the new Working Title romcom, I Give It A Year with Rose Byrne and Anna Faris, which I’m currently filming. There are also a couple of films – Asylum Blackout and A Night In the Woods — that should be coming out this year. And an HBO/BBC mini-series based on a set of Ford Madox Ford novellas that Tom Stoppard adapted called Parade’s End. It spans the Great War and I think it’s coming out at the end of the year. It was very fun shoot, with the uber-talented Susanna White at the helm. I play Rebecca Hall‘s naughty best friend, Lady Bobby.

AE: Final question: A little game of Lip Service shag, marry or cruise – so basically you have to pick who you would shag, marry or go on a three month cruise with – out of Heather, Ruta and Tash?

Oh dear. I think I might get into a bit of trouble if I answer that one! We actually used to play that game on set to keep us occupied during turnarounds. Probably best to keep the answers to ourselves.

Lip Service continues on Friday at 9 p.m. on BBC One. Follow the show on Twitter.

More you may like