After Cold Feet and Friends Helen Baxendale, 40, switched gears and tells TV Times that she has never looked back…

When you had your three children did you decide that your career should take a back seat?

“Well, it wasn’t deciding, well, maybe there was a bit of deciding, I don’t know. I’d kind of wanted to switch gear a little bit. I had children and they were starting school, so I couldn’t go away. It’s a young person’s game or a man’s game. Well, you can choose to do it, it’s just that you’d have to have a kind of army of nannies and this, that and the other to pick up the pieces. And I’ve never been organised enough to get myself a nanny.”

So how did you get round filming in South Africa for five weeks in Kidnap and Ransom?

“I decided to bring my whole family along, including my mum and dad! I spent my entire fee getting everybody to South Africa.”

What was the worst thing about the role?

“Firing a gun. I nearly cried because you’re aware of the fact that it could kill someone. But I then got used to it and got quite good!”

What was it like working with Trevor Eve?

“Trevor was utterly delightful. He had us all around for a barbecue and the men jumped into his pool. We had a nice time, it was like a holiday really!”

And John Hannah?

“John is a neighbour of mine and so I saw him on a zebra crossing. He went, ‘I’ll see you in South Africa next week’, and I went, ‘Oh, you’re doing it too?!'”

Have your children watched you in Friends??

“Yes, but what I’m quite chuffed with is that they’re not that bothered. It’s not that impressive to them.”

*Hostage thriller Kidnap and Ransom screens on ITV1 on Thursdays at 9pm