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When What’s on TV caught up with Lucy Benjamin about her recent role in New Tricks we discovered the former EastEnders star is harbouring dancing dreams!

Here Lucy also talks about her friendship with Mackenzie Crook, starring in Detectorists and why children are the best critics…



You started your acting career young with roles in Doctor Who and Press Gang. Did you always want to be an actress? 

“I did, and I don’t know where it came from because there’s no trace of it in my family. But I wanted to be a dancer more! I used to go disco dancing on Sunday afternoons in the late 70s. It was four hours long and I loved it. You also got burger and chips with the entrance ticket! Then I started theatre school part-time when I was nine in the West End and acting took over. But I still think I’m going to be a dancer!”



Would you love to do something like Strictly Come Dancing then?

“I’d love to do Strictly! It would be fabulous to learn the craft of ballroom dancing. Though I’d probably go out in the first round still thinking ‘But I’m a dancer!’”



Your role as Maggie in award-winning BBC4 comedy Detectorists was very different from Lisa in EastEnders. Will you be returning for the second series?

“I’m not in the new series unfortunately! It was such a fab job, I loved it. Toby Jones (Maggie’s ex, Lance) is a genius. Working with him was like watching a master class in acting. It was so great to do [something different] to what people perceive of me.”



How did you come to be involved in Detectorists?

“Mackenzie Crook is a very old friend of mine. We worked together years ago on a panto when he played the back end of a panto cow! We became firm friends and always stayed in touch. It was a joy when he thought of me for Maggie. I’m so chuffed it won the BAFTA.”



Mackenzie Crook wrote, starred and directed the series. How was that as a working experience?

“It was heavenly to work on. We were filming in gorgeous Sussex, had beautiful weather and just laughed and laughed. And Mackenzie just let us fly. In the pub quiz scene we were all improvising and having a ball!”



What’s next for you after your recent role in New Tricks that?

“I’m guesting in a really high-drama episode of Casualty soon, and I’ve also finished audio for a children’s book called The Sparkly Sleepy-Time Wand. It’s the first audio I’ve done and was a lovely job. Kids can be really harsh critics – my daughters will always say when they think something is rubbish, but they love this and listen to it all the time.”