From brief encounters in This Life to naked feminist romps in the new series


a long, long way from Largs. Words: Rob Driscoll


'I JUST KEPT thinking how big my feet looked and how small my boobs are.’ says Daniela Nardini. laughing about the raunchy naked dancing scene a mere twenty minutes into the first episode of Big Women. A drama about four friends in the frontline of Britain‘s feminist movement from the early 70s to the present day sounds a little dry after the sex. drugs and flat-sharing of This Life in which Daniela played freebasing. bloke-chasing solicitor Anna. but Big Women is a pacy. no- holds barred tale of sexual liberation. [I'll make you go out and buy a bra just so you can burn it. '

Shy and softly spoken. with huge brown eyes beneath severely-cropped hair. Daniela couldn‘t be less like Anna from This Life. the show that made her a star. Yet the Scottish actress plays another feisty ball-breaker. Layla. in Big Women. based on Fay Weldon‘s recent novel of the same name. Daniela. who comes across as positively demure and introverted. admits that she‘s nothing like the

6 THE lIST 25 Jun—9 Jul 1998

characters she plays. adding. ‘I like the idea of throwing a spanner in the works like Layla might do.'

Layla is the force behind the establishment of Medusa. a women‘s publishing house that‘s clearly inspired by the real-life company. Virago.

‘l.ayla can be rude. but she does it with such charm and confidence that she pulls it off.‘ says Daniela. 'She's also the only one who hangs on to being an attractive woman as well as a feminist. I like elements of her. She's one of those necessary people. She’s not dull.

‘Superficially. I suppose you could compare her with Anna. but they’re in completely different worlds. Maybe they‘d act similarly if you swapped them.~

llcr biggest challenge. however. was not creating Layla's bolshy persona but having to age 25 years during the four-part drama. ‘At the end of the series I have aubergine hair and look awful. That was hard. but I tried not to be too paranoid about it. I came home with my

make-up still on one day and asked my brother ifl looked 5(). He said ljust looked rough.’

Big ll’omen kicks off in l‘)7l. when the group of women are holding a consciousness- raising meeting. The evening erupts into a furore of drink. debate and nude dancing.

"l‘hat was just horrific to play.‘ says Daniela about the full-frontal scene. ‘But with three other actresses doing the same. that eased the embarrassment. I‘ve had moments of bonding with female friends in the past. but nothing so extreme..

But she got through it. She‘s good at what she does and has a Best Actress BAFTA to prove it.

‘My llatmate. Claire. put it on top of the television. but I‘m going to give it to my parents.‘ says Daniela. who remains very close to her family. She moved to London from her native Largs at the beginning of the year for what she calls a trial period.

“I‘d been spending so much time in London because of the work. and l was sick of