'It’s a violent world' - Niamh Walsh on her starring role in Jamestown
She was born in Australia and grew up in Malaysia, yet actress Niamh Walsh will never tries to escape from her Irish roots.
The distinctive Irish twang in Walsh’s accent was a constant reminder of her heritage during his successful spell playing Cara Martinez in Holby City and now she is set to capture the attention of American audiences as she prepares to take centre-stage in Sky One’s blockbuster drama Jamestown.
“I was born in Australia then lived in Holland, South Africa and the Middle East before Malaysia, but all my family are Irish,” begins Walsh.
“I was only every in Ireland for summer holidays, but the accent has stuck from my family.
“If you live overseas when you are growing up, you go reflectively native. You somehow sound more like your parents because they influence you even more.”
Niamh’s success has been well received by her family back home in Ireland, with this anecdote of their excitement ahead of one of her Holby City appearances summing up their mood.
“My Mam and a few other members of my family are delighted with my career,” she stated in a radio interview last year.
“They confirmed as much by marching into a pub in Skibbereen that had the racing on and they told the guy behind the bar; ‘You have to turn on BBC1. My daughter is in Holby City on it's on now!
“The whole pub was sat there watching Holby. It must have been quite a scene.
“I told to my Mam that the guys in the pub must have hated it, buy she was having none of it and insisted: ‘The all loved it. The bartender thought Holby was great!’.
Landing a role alongside Naomi Battrick and Sophie Rundle in Jamestown (above) could be the career break that propels Walsh’s career to a whole new level, with American casting directors certain to catch a glimpse of her sparkling performance as Verity Bridges in the ambitious new production.
Made by the producers of Downtown Abbey, Jamestown follows the lives of three women as they wrestle with the challenges of creating a new life in a in the 17th century America.
A settlement in Virginia has been occupied by English men for a decade before Verity, Jocelyn (Naomi Battrick) and Alice (Sophie Rundle) arrive on a boat from the Uk after being bought to be ready made brides by three very different men in Jamestown.
These are arranged marriages are from a bygone era when women tended to be traded as commodities, yet the Jamestown girls are not prepared to accept their role as slaves to their purchasers, as they do all they can to shake up the village on their own terms.
“Verity is a ballbuster. She is contrary and gobby and sarcastic,” says Walsh of her character, who is initially unimpressed when she finds that her husband to be is the drunken Meredith Rutter, played by Dean Lennox Kelly.
“She calls her husband a ‘pustulous toad’ at one point and that has to be one of my favourite lines I have ever delivered in my acting career!
“Verity is essentially hoping desperately for a new start when she makes the arduous boat ride to America, and she turns up to find her new husband nailed to a post by his ear as a punishment from the village folk for misbehaving.
“It’s quite a start to her adventure and the story has so many twists and turns from that point.”
Walsh’s feisty character appears to have the upper hand on her man Meredith in a world that encourages the female leads to fight their corner, with the twists and turns on their journey making for compelling viewing.
“All three women are pinning their hopes on this brave new world, but of course it never works out that way,” adds Walsh.
“The women all open up to each other about what went on in their lives beforehand. It’s a weird thing to do, to come out to this place, and you gradually learn why each of them has chosen to do so.
"There is nothing soft about these women. It’s not a story that you’re expecting. It’s a violent world.
"The first thing that you see as you come through the gates are the gallows, and then the graveyard. And the rule of law means that you get marched out of the gate and then hanged. There is just the garrison. There is no law court.
“It’s a wonderful role to play and the wonderful bond that has been created with the cast confirms how much we loved spending time with each other.
“We have WhatsApp groups now to send messages to each other and when you spend so much time together, it’s great when everyone gets along so well."
Jamestown premiers on Sky One this Friday at 9pm.