Fay Ripley – In Conversation

In 2016 ITV reunited audiences with Mike Bullen’s cult bittersweet comedy drama Cold Feet to rave reviews which spurred a followed up series and another to follow in 2018. For actress Fay Ripley, who played the part of Jenny Gifford, this was yet another successful turning point in a career spanning three decades.

Press play, below, to listen to the full interview


After leaving school, Fay joined the London School of Music and Drama in 1990 much to the disapproval of her father who always thought that she should have a “proper job”. For this, he resulted to drastic lengths to discourage her from following her dream including enrolling her on a napkin folding course. Yet Fay always knew that her true calling lie in drama and while other wannabe actors opted for traditional drama schools or good old fashioned rep, Fay opted for this relatively new form of training which put her on the path to success. Making her professional debut in Around The World In 80 Days at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1990, Fay got a taste of performing to a live audience for the very first time. Unlike most actors, the theatre doesn’t have the same thrill as television which Fay thrives upon and is more at home in a television set. Yet rumours have been muted that she is to return to the stage later this year so watch this space.


In 1995 Fay made the surprising move to horror in the cult movie Mute Witness. For an actor, there’s a fine line between Comedy and horror as it’s concerned with people’s reactions. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re confronted by Frankenstein or a naked James Nesbitt because the face is still the same. It seems that every part that she plays, Fay’s attitude is paramount to find the warmth behind the character simply because she is a warm and fun-loving person. This amiable nature has allowed her to conquer the difficult transition between actor to television presenter. Most recently fronting Christmas cookery items on ITV’s Lorraine, Fay is equally at home as herself as in character and her effortless television persona epitomises this.


Probably one of the most daunting things for a television actor is to resurrect a popular series from the past. This was exactly what Fay signed up for when she was cast alongside Martin Clunes for the 2009 return of Reggie Perrin. With scripts written by the late great David Nobbs, the programme managed to maintain its bizarre and bittersweet undertones but unfortunately merely ran for one series in light of Nobbs’ untimely death in 2015. Playing the part of Nicola, the long suffering wife of Perrin, was a joyful experience for Fay as being supporting cast she could hide behind the star of the show. As an actress, Fay remains extremely generous and gracious to those around her and despite undoubtedly being at the top of her profession, she’s not precious about being top billing. Another example of her grounding as a human being.


Despite her vast acting credentials, Fay’s proudest achievement is her series of cookery books. In 2012 she launched the first book entitled What’s For Dinner? followed by Fay Makes It Easy: 100 Recipes To Impress With No Stress. This was a passion project for Fay and she feels a wonderful sense of pride when she is stopped in the street by someone who tells her that these books have changed their lives. As a working mother of two, Fay has first hand experience of juggling a career with raising a family so these books are a helpful guide to making mealtimes interesting without having to spend hours and hours slaving away over an oven. Talking to her about this, it’s not difficult to see that this has huge significance within Fay’s life. Far more than just a project, it’s a labour of love and I wish her all the very best with it.


To purchase your own copies please click the link below.Fay’s Family Food: Delicious Recipes Where One Meal Feeds Everyone. Whatever Age!

But of course, Fay’s most celebrated role came in 1997 when she was cast as Jenny Gifford in ITV’s cult Comedy drama Cold Feet. Originally auditioned for the part of Rachael (eventually given to Helen Baxendale), the producers saw something different in her and offered her the part of Jenny Gifford alongside John Thompson’s Pete. Not as Glamorous as the character of Rachel but it did give Fay the opportunity to play more of a comic role. The experimental camera angles and cutaways were considered revolutionary for its time and the original way in which a scene was written meant that the audience only got to the action either one second before or after something had happened. This makes the show different from any other and possibly the key factor to its longevity.


Cold Feet originally ran for five series on ITV and followed the lives of six couples coping with the strains of modern life: David and Karen Marsden – the dysfunctional career driven married couple who use alcohol to hide their problems, Rachel and Adam – childhood sweathearts who are torn apart by tragedy and Pete and Jenny – the couple who are always up for a laugh. Yet in 2004 the show came to an end following the death of Rachel in one of the most dramatic scenes in a television drama as her car tragically collided with a lorry on a busy junction while she placed a cassette in the player. Typical of Cold Feet’s fast paced style, they didn’t dwell on the horrific nature of the accident. Instead they centered the action upon how each character dealt with the sad news. But for the cast and crew this was the end of an era as the country said goodbye to six good friends for what appeared to be the very last time…but was it?


In 2015 the cast and crew of Cold Feet were summoned for a meeting in Manchester. This was the first time that they had reunited in over a decade and Fay had severe reservations regarding bringing it back. She really didn’t want to go and was praying that she would be involved in a minor accident just to prevent her from attending. Yet when she arrived unscathed, it was like they had never been away and that unique chemistry was still there. Perhaps that’s testament to the show’s appeal that no matter how much time has passed its still well received by the audience. With another series in the can for next autumn, it looks like we haven’t seen the last of Cold Feet.


It was a great pleasure to interview Fay Ripley and wish her the very best for the rest of her remarkable career.