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Vicky McClure‘s latest TV turn as a woman plagued by eerie goings-on in thriller Insomnia is right up her street when it comes to taking on brooding gritty roles.

“Some of the stuff [I do] is really dark and you can’t help, as an actor, putting yourself in their shoes to try and think about what that might feel like and how you might get to that place,” she says as she discusses her new six-part psychological drama.

“I think I do a lot of dramatic, dark kind of work. God knows why! I always work hard and I enjoy what I do – I’m bloody lucky to do it. And I like the dark stuff. You don’t get to the end of that and think, ‘Give me a sitcom’. You think, ‘Give me some more of this’.”

In the Paramount+ thriller, the star of BBC cop drama Line of Duty and ITV’s explosive Trigger Point plays Emma Averill, a hard-working lawyer who fears she is losing her mind when weird stuff starts happening. “I’ve not experienced anything like that myself – but I’m not closed to it,” she explains when asked if she believes in spooky stuff. “I’d say I was somewhere in between, in that I haven’t seen it but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen. Anything is possible.”

Vicky McClure

Vicky McClure also starred in Line of Duty and Trigger Point
Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for P)

In the tense thriller, married career woman Emma stops sleeping in the run-up to her 40th birthday, just as her sister, played by Leanne Best, returns from her travels. As Emma starts having blackouts – at one point finding herself standing in her huge garden pond – she is terrified she is suffering from the same distressing issues their violent psychotic mother experienced on the night of her own 40th birthday.

And having been told she has got the “bad blood” within her, she is starting to believe it is true. Vicky is thankful she has never suffered with insomnia, but says she feels deeply for those who do. “Even just a bad night’s sleep or missing a few hours can really take you off-kilter,” she says.

“What happens with Emma throughout the show is beyond off-kilter. She’s extremely unhappy. There’s a lot of past complications that come back to haunt her. Emma’s story, the way it destroys her family by the end and the scenes we have shot, it was heartbreaking.”

Vicky McClure

Vicky McClure described the new scenes as heartbreaking
Amanda Searle/Left Bank/Sony Pictures Television)

The drama also focuses on the ­relationship between Emma and her stay-at-home husband Rob (Tom Cullen), daughter Chloe (India Fowler) and son Will (Smylie Bradwell), alongside sister Phoebe and estranged mother Patricia (Corinna Marlowe). Vicky says she felt drawn to the role of Emma because she is exactly the same age.

“My agent just said it’s very grown up, and I said, ‘Yeah, I feel like I’ve grown up. I’m 40 now’. I feel like we created a family that I believed. I like anything that feels relatable and real, as much as this is going to go into ultra-realism at times.’”

She said that at the outset her ­character looks as though she is living a “quite privileged” life with her big, rambling house in the country and cosy house-husband set-up. From the outside, it is a big old house – but it is kind of inherited through Tom’s family and there is scaffolding up there.

BBC/World Productions/Steffan Hill)

“You perceive it to be one thing and it’s something else. It was great fun to be able to portray that,” she says. Writer Sarah Pinborough, who adapted the series from her novel, laughs that she “struggles to write warm human beings” and says she hopes viewers will be gripped.

“It gets a lot worse for Emma and Rob and the family before it gets better,” she says. “I come from a horror background – I always lean into the weird and the dark. We live in a society where you can’t afford your electricity bill and you want to come home, turn the TV on and get lost in someone else’s problems and in something a bit magical, a bit weird. I just hope people come away thinking, ‘Oh my God, I should have got that’. That’s kind of my take on it. I’m thinking entertainment.”

  • Insomnia begins on May 23 on Paramount+

Do you think you may suffer from Insomnia and live in Florida, California or New York?

If so, please consider scheduling a proper virtual online Insomnia and Anxiety diagnosis with one of our physicians. Although we have an online ADHD and Anxiety diagnosis tool, a proper diagnosis from a Board-Certified Medical Doctor will help you know for sure. If appropriate, a customized treatment program will be recommended at the conclusion of that initial visit.

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