GOTHIC VEN­TURE

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - Close Up - – Nathanael Cooper

With two pe­riod dra­mas un­der her belt and a third US pilot se­ries likely to be picked up, English ac­tor Janet Mont­gomery is keep­ing busy.

Last year she was in­un­dated with work – first in the Stephen Po­li­akoff drama Danc­ing On The Edge, fol­lowed by the pre-World War II drama Spies Of War­saw. “I was hon­estly re­ally blessed, it was a very good pe­riod for me,” she says. “I was work­ing on Danc­ing On The Edge and au­di­tioned for Spies.”

Spies Of War­saw con­cludes tonight on Fox­tel’s UKTV. Mont­gomery plays Anna Skar­bek op­po­site David Ten­nant of Doc­tor Who fame. The pair strug­gle with a bur­geon­ing re­la­tion­ship, while at­tempt­ing to make things work against the back­drop of the dawn of war.

Cue equal lev­els of in­trigue and drama within their per­sonal and pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ships.

Ten­nant, who plays colonel JeanFran­cois Mercier, was a role model on set ac­cord­ing to Mont­gomery. “He is the epitome of the pre­pared ac­tor,” she says. “And he does ev­ery­thing with great hu­mour and with bun­dles of pos­i­tiv­ity. It was hard to be in a bad mood on set – even when we were shoot­ing on top of a moun­tain and it was hot and I was tired he would say ‘what a beau­ti­ful view from up here,’ and you can’t help but be caught up in that.”

Her other pro­ject, Danc­ing On The Edge, set in the early 1930s, is about a black jazz band in Lon­don and the dif­fi­cul­ties faced by the group liv­ing and work­ing in the city at that time.

The show cov­ers racial dis­crim­i­na­tion and prej­u­dice, but ex­plores them from the an­gle of their im­pact on the peo­ple they af­fect and those around them.

Mont­gomery says of the role: “It is al­ways ex­cit­ing do­ing some­thing that is break­ing all the rules, do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent for TV.”

The story ex­ists in two very dif­fer­ent worlds – the world of the priv­i­leged who fre­quent the ho­tels where the band plays, and the bene­fac­tors who in­vite them to their coun­try manors.

Di­rectly along­side that is the re­al­ity for the band who live in much less op­u­lent sur­round­ing, as they work to claw their way to a bet­ter life.

“We were in­cred­i­bly lucky to have such a great team of peo­ple cre­at­ing

●●those worlds,” says Mont­gomery.

“We had this amaz­ing cos­tume de­signer who had gone all around the world find­ing au­then­tic pieces, they hardly made any of the cos­tumes.”

With half the work done for her al­ready, Mont­gomery says she then set about do­ing all the re­search she could to find a truth in her char­ac­ter. “You do do a lot more re­search when you are work­ing on a pe­riod drama. When it is the 1930s you have to know what is go­ing on, so I spent a lot of time read­ing and dis­cov­er­ing any­thing I could find to help bulk up my char­ac­ter’s life.”

With two heavy-duty dra­mas in the can, Mont­gomery could be for­given for rest­ing. But she has just com­pleted a pilot for Goth­ica, which has been de­scribed as a “sexy gothic soap,” and stars Aus­tralian ac­tors Chris Egan, Emma Booth and Melissa Ge­orge.

Spies Of War­saw

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