Interview with Bad Girls’s Liz May Brice

Pat and Sheena on "Bad Girls"

U.K. viewers have been lucky to see lesbians on national television for 7 years now, thanks to Bad Girls. From Helen and Nikki’s tormented relationship to the latest romance between sweet Sheena (in for drugs) and hard-as-nails Pat (in for murder), the show has featured a diverse array of lesbian and bisexual characters, and won many industry and audience awards along the way.

Pat (Liz May Brice)Now that BBC America has started airing the first season (with the second season coming soon), U.S. audiences can enjoy Bad Girls, as well.

The latest lesbian character to join the show is Pat Kerrigan, played by Liz May Brice (whom you may also recognize from her head-chopping scene in Resident Evil). From the moment Pat Kerrigan arrived at Larkhall Prison, we could see that meant business. She made a nun strip, decked Natalie Buxton (Danielle Brent), and fell in love against her will with sweet Sheen. Pat’s back for the upcoming Bad Girls Christmas Special, and for Season 8, which beings shooting in February 2006 and debuts in the U.K. in late spring.

We had a chat with Brice recently about the show, her character, and what she’d give Pat for Christmas. How did you end up working on Bad Girls? Had you seen the show before?
Liz May Brice:
I saw Bad Girls when it first came out, seven years ago. Then because of filming and being out I didn’t manage to catch it as often. My agent contacted me to say they were interested in me for the role of Pat. It was all a bit of a mix up. I didn’t realise it was for a full-time role, I thought it was a small part. So when they called me an hour after my audition to offer me the role, I really wasn’t expecting it!

AE: Looking at your past roles, you seem to like playing tough. What’s the appeal?
LMB: I’ve played a commando, got my head chopped off, I’ve punched a few people. I don’t mind it. I much prefer this than playing a dull victim… though these characters are actually nothing like me!

AE: Bad Girls has been a great leader in showcasing lesbians on national TV. Did anyone warn you off playing a gay character?
LMB: No! Everyone thinks it’s fantastic. I’ve not had any wind ups. Plus people seem to be scared of me, especially if I start wielding a knife in their face! (Laughs)

AE: Have the fan letters been flowing through your door?
LMB: I do get much more fan mail than I ever expected. Not that I’m really sure what I expected. I get a lot. The letters are all really lovely and personal. I’ve responded to all of them personally. It takes time but I don’t want to just send a signature to someone who’s taken the time to write a long letter. The comments they write show I’m doing a good job and that the show is having an impact.

AE: Pat is a complex character. Do you think she’ll ever get out?
LMB: She is complex. I’d be interested to know if we find out more about her. She has committed murder (she killed her boyfriend). But in my mind, it was self-defence, she was being beaten up. She’s been in prison for a while, she still has a stretch to do but maybe they’ll bring up an appeal for her. She’s the reluctant top dog. It seems important for Bad Girls to have this moral centre. She’s very different from Yvonne Atkins who was more of a mother figure, or Nikki Wade.

AE: Playing such dramatic and intense characters all day, do the cast manage to relax and have a laugh?
LMB: We do have a laugh. The directors always ask that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We all get on really well too, so it’s not difficult.

AE: Pat and Sheena: a love affair for life?
LMB: At last two people who’ve had a hard life have finally managed to find happiness. The Christmas Special is really sweet. Sheena has managed to lighten Pat up a bit. Pat’s vulnerable side has been able to come out. But I really don’t know what will happen to them…

AE: If you were visiting Pat for Christmas, what present would you bring her?
LMB: Uhmm… A funny film! Something to make her laugh. I mean when do we ever see her laugh! Sheena wrapped up with a bow around her, or in a Santa’s outfit! Yeah that would work!

The Bad Girls Christmas special airs in the U.K. on December 19th. Go to the Official Bad Girls Site (U.K.) and BBC America’s Bad Girls site (U.S.) for more on the show.