Katherine Rose Morley X DARKUS
What would you do if you won the jackpot in the lottery? You’ve guessed it the hit BBC-series ‘The Syndicate’ is back for its fourth run, this time the audience gets to enjoy a star-studded line-up, sun-kissed scenes of Monaco and man’s best friend, dogs. Liverpool-native actress Katherine Rose Morley graces the screen in her very first lead role, after making headlines in The Mill and Last Tango in Halifax we get to see her play Keeley Sanderson, the ambitious compulsive gambler caught up in an enthralling cat-and-mouse chase. On an early morning in the third lockdown, Morley gushes over the female force that is Kay Mellor, shares her secrets on how to land the perfect audition tape and tells us what she would do if she won the lottery.
The Syndicate makes it’s a big return to the screens after a 6 years-hiatus, where a star-studded line-up have their lives turned upside down after they jointly win the lottery, how would you describe the new series and how is it different from the previous ones, what can the viewers expect?
If you’re a fan of the show previously, it’s everything you expect from it and more. If you’re new to the show you will love it just as much. It’s such a fun concept, it’s just a group of people who won the lottery in its simplest form but it’s so much more than that. It has all the best elements of the previous series, but with a twist, introducing a storyline which is very new to this series, The Syndicate always follows a very similar narrative yet the time round, here is a whole cat-and-mouse chase revolving which I think people will enjoy watching that and it’s really good fun. There is heart in the show with real relatable characters and that’s why Kay and the show are so loved.
The script, was written by none other than Bafta award-winning writer Kay Mellor, known for her previous work Band of Gold, Fat Friends and Girlfriends, what was your first impression when reading the script and how was it working with for on the show?
As soon as I read the script I fell in love with it, one because it’s Kay Meller and two there were dogs in every single episode and I remember thinking this is like my dream. I had never met Kay before, but I remember leaving my chemistry-test, which was already an experience in itself, and just felt so grateful for her kindness, and that was just an audition! Every audition is different, but what Kay does, she makes you feel at ease and she is there to help and as an actor that’s all you want.
Kay is this wonderful multi-faceted human being, that I can’t quite put into words. She’s a bit of everything and you get the best of everything from her, she is very much like having a friend or auntie on set who is looking out for you yet knows what she wants. She will get the job done all with a sense of humour, kindness. When you’re on a Kay Meller show everybody is there to work and do their best. That’s such a testament to her and who she is.
You play Keeley Sanderson, a compulsive gambler and the leading light of the Syndicate, how do you resonate with your character and what did you do to prepare for your role?
Kelley is a very confident and positive person, when she sees a problem she automatically seeks a solution. She is the driving force behind what happens in the show and getting the job done. I believe I’m quite similar to her, maybe not quite to that extent, but I do always see the glass half full.
What is so beautiful about Keeley is that there is a real vulnerability to her and you can see that progress throughout the series, she’s very much a three-dimensional character you have to warm to her but sometimes you don’t necessarily like her because she doesn’t always make the best decisions. But that is what being a human being is all about, I think what I would love for people to take away from this, is that she is human, she does have a really good heart even though she might not make the best choices.
The Syndicate was filmed in its entirety during Covid and lockdown – in Yorkshire and in Monaco. How did you find filming internationally during a global pandemic?
It was incredible. It was originally meant to be Vegas, but I just couldn’t believe that I was working during a pandemic and lived in Monaco for a month. I would be speaking with my family back home in rainy England, while I was standing on a sun-swept balcony on the harbour in November, it was such a pinch-me moment.
I soaked it all in, it was the best time although it was a tough shoot, we had a lot to do in a very short period of time. But I couldn’t complain we were so lucky to be in this position and I also feel that the audience won’t be expecting anything like the luxurious and wealthy backdrop of Monaco which is so luxury and wealthy. Some of the locations are just phenomenal and it brings such an exciting new element to the show.
As we can expect from Kay Mellor, The Syndicate promises nail-biting cat-and-mouse chases, what was your favourite moment during the show?
There was this moment in Monaco, it was half four in the morning and they opened the Monte Carlo casino for us. It was very extraordinary, not many people get to experience this, even though I’m not much of a gambler the grandeur and history of the building just really took my breath away. If you would’ve told 15-year old me that I would be leading in a show set in this historical building in Monaco, where they even filmed a James Bond film, I wouldn’t have believed you.
The Syndicate is made up of kennel-workers and we heard you had to send in your self-tape with dogs bouncing up and down next to you, how did your self-tape go?
A requirement for the show was that you must be comfortable with dogs, and luckily enough for me the dog of my boyfriend’s parents just had puppies. I decided to use all six of them, I genuinely love dogs but wanted to show that to Kay too, so I did my self-tape while they were running all over me and I guess it paid off, so I would say, always take the risk.
If the writing wouldn’t draw you in, the cast sure would with an incredible line up including Neil Morrissey (Line of Duty, Unforgotten); Emily Head (The Inbetweeners, Emmerdale); Taj Atwal (Line of Duty, In The Club); Kieran Urquhart (The North Water, Vera) and introducing Liberty Hobbs (Grey’s Anatomy), how was it working with your co-stars?
We all lived together in the same apartment block for 5 months, it was very inset but an invaluable experience. We did spend 24 hours per day together, we worked together, lived together and because we weren’t allowed to see anybody else socialised together during the weekends when going on five-hour walks in Yorkshire. I do think it really added something to the show, as the characters all have a very strong friendship, and now we too genuinely did get on.
We were more like siblings, we got on each other's nerves but also had so much love for each other. They are all fantastic, really wonderful fantastic actors. Take Neil, I’m a big fan of him anyway so I was veer excited to work with him. He is so much fun, really lovely to be around and makes the job so easy because he makes time fly and as I said, Kay does this best, she held her in such high regards she gets the best people to work with and I am such a big fan of this show.
Your have quite an impressive resume of British television including appearances in Vera, Call The Midwife, Moving and being known as Ellie in Last Tango in Halifax, what would you dream to be cast for or work with?
I’m quite an active person, so I would love to seriously physically train for a role be someone a bit like Lara Croft, really bad-ass looking. I’ve played a lot of younger women, and most of the time I am pregnant, it’s become a bit of an ongoing joke, so I would love to play someone really cool like a superhero. In terms of people, there are just so many, I would love to work with somebody like Emma Thompson as well as Stephen Graham, he’s such an amazing actor, there are just so many.
Talking about dreams, what would you do if you were to win 27 million pounds?
We have asked ourselves this a lot while filming, at the moment I’m building my own house so I’m a bit house-obsessed and that would be a massive help, I would treat myself to some nice furniture. When it is COVID safe again, I would take my entire family on a big skiing holiday and plan an amazing Christmas with the entire family.
What other plans do you have coming up, or would you like to achieve?
I would love to continue working with brilliant writers and actors and meeting new people, that’s one element of the job that I love; meeting people I have never worked with before. Sometimes, during a very small job I have met somebody who has helped me or guided me, and it’s not necessarily the size of the paths that matter. If I can continue to work with Kay Mellor, Sally Wainright, I will be extremely happy.
"There is heart in the show with real relatable characters and that’s why Kay and the show are so loved."
Interview By Lupe Baeyens
Photo - Lia Bangart
Hair - Jon Chapman ( Nylon artists )
Makeup - Julie Cooper ( Nylon artists )
Styling - Manny Lago
Retouch - Nina Duque
Katherine Rose Morley