When Ricky Tomlinson was asked how much he was like Jim Royle in the Royle Family, he said, only about 99.5%. So, I wondered what Nadia Sawalha was going to be like, as the first time I'd really noticed her was as Annie Palmer in Eastenders. She scared me in that. Ruthless businesswoman, confident maneater, wouldn't like to meet her, I thought. Well, a few years down the road, I'm about to meet her. We're sitting in Wellies in Portals and I'm prepared for the worst. Sorry, I'm really hung over, and need a fried breakfast, she grins. The filming of Passport to the Sun had finished the night before and as the presenter, she'd been out celebrating with the crew until 4 o'clock. Relief. She seems nice and friendly, and hung over as well? She'll be a pussycat. As we talked, she kept leaning over to another table where her parents (father a Jordanian, mother, English) were sitting and she was asking for clarification, especially from her father Nadim Sawalha. He's an established and respected actor, having appeared in numerous plays (he's just finished at the National Theatre appearing in a new play by Patrick Marber), films (just starting a new one in Morocco) and TV series. More petite and soft looking than I expected. I asked her whether her father advised her against going into the same profession as so often happens in thespian' families. The heartbreak waiting for the phone to ring, lack of the perfect role, the agony of being typecast and stuck in a soap opera forever, as sometimes happens to perhaps the lucky ones. Nadia asks her father. Not pleased at first, he says, but then she was so determined, he couldn't say no.
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