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PREVIEW The Dark Room BBCl, Fri ZApr, 9pm; Sat 3Apr,

9.05pm. Fans of the official cardie- wearers television drama

Ballykissangel will be appalled. It was bad enough when Dervla Kirwan’s Assumpta met her death in the pub basement, thereby destroying the series' reason for existing (pub landlady and priest love-match). But to be resurrected like this?

Kirwan‘s latest role has her battered, bruised and shaven- headed to become wealthy professional photographer Jinx Kingsley. The unlucky Jinx has mislaid her memory after a car accident in Minette Walters' new psychological thriller The Dark Room.

’Taking the hair off a woman, something so bound up with femininity and sexuality, is a hell of a punch to give an audience,’ says Kirwan of the brutalised image she presents here. ’But it shows, externally and internally, just how traumatised this person is.’

Kingsley’s trauma is not in the vein of mistaking the doctor for your husband and embarrassing bedside visitors by enquiring after long- dead relatives. This being a Minette Walters’ adaptation (remember The Ice House and Scold’s Bridle) our heroine is a fairy-tale figure (wealthy, beautiful, tortured, in need of a kind, gentle man) who appears to be blotting out both a suicide bid and a heinous crime.

Haunted by gore-filled flashbacks featuring the ex- fiancee and best friend who betrayed her (not forgetting her brutally murdered first husband) Kingsley becomes convinced, as do the police, that she has blood on her hands

Albeit a bit corny at times, The Dark Room is a serious drama which stretches Kirwan's acting abilities. The result being, she squeezes more out of the part than it deserves. ‘Jinx may seem to come from a rich and privileged background,’ the 27-year-old actress says. ’But


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The Dark Room: that’s shorn business

the woman underneath has nothing not even the sense of who she really is.’

And, while the characters are a bit mini-series, the adaptation possesses a thriller’s pace and that edge-of- the-seat ingredient that prevents you turning over to something less cheesy. For Kirwan, the drama had a welcome intensity.

’I have always wanted to be pushed, to be surprised,’ she says. 'I'd waited a long time and I was hungry for it. I’ve fallen in love with acting all over again. At least I am really being allowed to practise my craft and if it meant shaving my head to get there, well it was worth it.’

As for the hair situation, the woman whose buy-a- drink-from-me eyes had more than just cardie-sporting males tuning in to BallyK, is going for the wig option until those chestnut-brown locks grow back in. 'I look especially fetching in platinum.‘ (Ellie Carr)

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Box Pops

Celebrity sofa surfing. This issue: Claudia Winkleman

What is your favourite show? The Simpsons ne<atzse Bart is the nest (harat 1e" in the whole \.".’l(l(‘ ‘.'.o"'(l What do you eat while watching TV? Kltls' ‘ooo', like eqt; ano so (l=e"s o" maybe a Ch'nese take-away Anyth'no ‘\.'-.'lt|( h doesn't reoture me to look (l()‘.‘.’.": or a\.'.ay from the TV a lot

When did you last cover your eyes at the telly? DLJ'HX} any animal programmes in (ase a spider (otnes on When did you last shout at the telly? Daring foothal? rny flatinate Is realiy H1101:S()‘v.'.(‘\.'.(it(l‘ It and s( r‘ean‘; a lot When did you last cry at the telly? Down ‘lne PM e Is Right when t"ey .'.:n ail t'ne pix/es or The i/loment Of lit/tit

What do you have on top of your television? A remote (ontrol (ar \.‘."‘|l( h \.'.e [)«iy ‘.'.:t't \.‘.'hen bored

Who or what is your favourite cartoon character? Bugs But 71y, as he has \.'.:t and style

Which cartoon character are you? l‘.'.()t.'|(l like to tl‘lttk I am Lisa Simpson, but an: realiy probably more like Bart What current show do you run home from the pub/stay in/miss church for? The .77 O’C/ork Snoz'x, especially for All C)

If you could be on any show, past or present, what would it be? Fr/ends, so (Quid snoo lslatthe".'.' Perry

What is you favourite TV theme tune? [)a/ias

Favourite/least favourite sports commentator? Des l.'§."‘art‘ 's the best I no“; 1 really "ate anyone, but s'e‘ "of. too \(‘OH on that \'.o"‘-a" Sue, who (:oes the tennis

Who would you like to see on MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch? Hox‘. about ,e'erny Paxn‘a" an: ion Won“.

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