Theatregoers' Choice Awards
2008, Best Actress for Harper Regan (nominated).
Evening Standard Theatre Awards
2008, Best Actress for Harper Regan (nominated).
Lesley did not get into Drama School on her first try, she had to work in London a year before she could try again. On her second try she did get accepted to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Lesley was Russell T. Davies first choice for the role of Rose in Bob and Rose; the channel ITV did not agree at first, but Lesley did finally get the role.
In her research for Afterlife, Lesley spent time with the Gordon Smith nicknamed the "Psychic Barber", known as one of the best psychic in Britain. She found the experience challenging.
In April and May 2008, Lesley appeared in the play Harper Regan in which she played a title character. The play is about a woman who risks her work to go visit her dying father, she misses her father, but in the process we learn why she was estranged from her family; she supported her husband when he found himself accused in their hometown.
In 2005, she starred in the Sam Shephard play The God of Hell in which she played a woman living on a farm in Wisconsin. At the time, Lesley had only been once to the United States for a stay on 3 days.
Lesley first met Russell T. Davies when he joined the cast of Clocking Off for drinks. She doesn't remember it, but Russell does. They are now great friends, Lesley worked with him on Bob and Rose, The Second Coming and Doctor Who.
In April 2006, Lesley starred in a monologue for television titled My Daughter it was part of the series The Real Voice of Murder; the monologues were based on real people words, Lesley's monologue was about a mother who's daughter had been murdered by her violent boyfriend.
Lesley did not only work with Mike Leigh on the movies Naked and Vera Drake, she also worked with him on the stage of the Royal Court theater in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Lesley grew up in Formby, a small town between Liverpool and Manchester.
Lesley's parents are both Scottish.
Lesley is the youngest of two sisters.
Lesley: (On her character Sky Silvestri on Doctor Who) There's not very much you find out about her before she gets taken over by something ghastly. So, really, the journey through the character is in playing her being possessed by something extremely unpleasant.
Lesley: (On the important lesson she learned from having worked for Max Stafford Clark at the Royal Court) I tend to be attracted to good writing because that's really what I learnt at the knee of Max Stafford Clark, that as long as the writing's good, you're taken care off.
Lesley: (On why she took a hiatus of 12 years from performing on stage and why she is coming back to theater work) Well I did a play after I had my first child and found it really difficult, more difficult than I expected. The amount of concentration required to be on stage, I just couldn't do it, not with a young family, but they're a bit older now and they need me to be around in a different way then they did.
Lesley: (On why she took the title role in the play Harper Regan) It was an extraordinary journey for a female character. New writers tend to write fantastic roles for men, but less so for women. I was a great fan of Simon Stephens' work, so to be sent a play written by him with a part for a woman of my age was unbelievable. They don't come along that often.
Lesley: (On being recognized while doing everyday things) What I get a lot is people coming up to me and saying, 'Did you used to teach at my son's school?' A lot of people haven't got a fucking clue, which is great. But then sometimes what happens is you're putting your Tampax into your trolley and you'll realise that someone's staring at you. Then they'll go, 'It's you, isn't it? What have I seen you in?' That's awful, because then you go, 'The Full Monty?' and they go, 'No.' 'Clocking Off?' 'No.' 'Bob & Rose?' 'No, I don't really watch telly.' And then you feel like a complete wanker because you've gone through your CV by the sanitary products. Or you get, 'You're that girl off EastEnders, aren't you?' Or 'Are you in that advert with that dog?' It just becomes a bit humiliating.
Lesley: (On why after working extensively on the stage, she took a break from 1996 to 2005 to concentrate on working in from of a camera) I felt very lost and I thought, I need a break from this. I became very, very interested in what you could do in front of a camera, in the way you could communicate a character's feeling through saying nothing. I wasn't very good at it and it was something that I really did want to explore.
Lesley: (Talking about Gordon Smith, a psychic she prepared for Afterlife with) Gordon is very matter of fact about what he does, but it's quite amazing. While someone like Derren Brown is very accomplished at cold reading, what Gordon does goes beyond that. I think he's probably privy to quite a lot of stuff that he doesn't share. He holds stuff back that might hurt people, I think. I went to a meeting to watch him work and it was pretty impressive.
Lesley: (On what she thinks her characters have in common) They look at what's going on before they make up their minds, they weigh things up.
Lesley: (Describing why she is perfect for the quirky roles) I'm not 23, I don't have the looks of angel, I don't have the body of a goddess, I'm kind of invisible.
Lesley: (On how television writing doesn't get the recognition it should get) 'There is this perception that theatre is where true writers are, and that people who write for television aren't proper writers. Television is regarded as this bastard brother to the dizzy heights of film and theatre. I happen to think that is a load of bollocks. People who are doing very good work in any of those media will shine through.
Lesley: (Talking about Russell T. Davies with whom she has worked with doing Bob and Rose and The Second Coming) Russell is very warm and kind. You're always hopeful that if someone writes something you like, you'll find elements of what you have liked in the script in the person, and sure enough in Russell there is this great avenue of comedy and humanity. His spirit is in his writing. Filming can be pretty intensive. You're doing 13-hour days - learn your lines, straight to bed, up the next day and carry on. It gets like a boot camp. But Russell and I found time to discover that we had the same rather cruel sense of humour. I can't tell you what we laugh at. I shouldn't tell you.
Lesley: (Explaining how good acting is in the details) If you play people who are in trouble, there are certain questions you will ask about a character, certain building blocks you will put into place before you start work. So you will have an idea, before you start work, of what they like to have for breakfast and how they like to get dressed in the morning. They are tiny things that never show on screen, but they are incredibly important. It's all in the detail. Being turned on to writers and being part of a collaborative working process, and then going on to working with people like Paul and Russell, you feel like you're doing a really creative job.
Lesley: (On how for an actress she is very shy about being in the public's eye) It was that weird thing of wanting to be noticed but being incredibly embarrassed about it at the same time. You know when actors are very shy and self-effacing? Well, I really love it when people like my work, but I'm also really embarrassed about it. It's strange. And a bit pathetic really.