If you've got it, why not flaunt it? Former Casualty star Claire Goose on why taking her clothes off for a racy new TV drama didn’t faze her one bit
She was once voted the 29th Sexiest Woman In The World in a lads’ mag poll. In her
nurse’s outfit as Tina Seabrook in Casualty, she had the male half of the population reaching for the smelling salts. But, until recently, Claire Goose, 36, had never appeared nude in front of the cameras.
All that has just changed, as viewers of the upcoming Exile are about to discover. In this tense and classy three parter to be shown on successive nights on BBC1 in the first week of May, Claire plays barmaid Mandy, a mother-of-two trapped in a lifeless marriage who embarks on an affair with a journalist called Tom (John Simm).
Sacked from his job and dumped by his married girlfriend, Tom has headed back up North to see his sister (Olivia Coleman) and their father (Jim Broadbent), a man nursing a dark secret but now in the grip of Alzheimer’s. You may be certain something very nasty will be tumbling out of the woodshed before too long.
Natural charm: Claire Goose, 39, was once voted the 29th Sexiest Woman In The World in a lads' mag poll following her role as Tina Seabrook in Casualty
Conceived by Paul Abbott (Shameless, Clocking Off), Exile was written by one of his protégés, Danny Brocklehurst. ‘I wanted to do it as soon as I read it,’ says Claire. ‘Our printer was broken so I had to read it on screen, which I normally hate. But I couldn’t stop.’ And it didn’t take her long to reach the scene where Tom and Mandy are naked together and indulging in a spot of horizontal aerobics.
‘I’d been quite nervous leading up to the day of filming that scene,’ she says. ‘I’d told John and the director that it was my first ever nude scene and I wasn’t quite sure of the etiquette involved. In the end, we worked out what we were going to do and just got on with it. And I realised almost straight away that, with the director telling me to move this arm here or that leg there, it all becomes very technical. It certainly wasn’t sexy.’
She was wearing skimpy briefs throughout but, presumably, she could have asked to keep her bra on, if she’d felt too exposed. ‘I’m sure I could have done, but I trusted the director. And it was an important scene in that the couple weren’t just having sex, something we’d seen earlier. It said in the script that, for the first time, the two characters were making love.’
She laughs. ‘Who cares if people see my chest, though? Well, obviously my husband [scriptwriter and TV producer Craig Woodrow] has had reservations. But as my sister Caroline pointed out, it’s no different from being on the beach – and anyway, everyone’s got them. So I can honestly say I wasn’t embarrassed.’
With her svelte figure, auburn hair and bright-blue eyes – somewhat hidden today behind a pair of rather severe black-rimmed specs – Claire is an alluring presence. But it’s her openness – typified by that face-splitting smile – that remains her most winning feature.
Nude début: Claire with John Simm in new BBC 1 series Exile, marking her first nude appearance in front of the cameras
Pitch any question at her and she doesn’t attempt to duck it. It’s not that she’s naive; more that she knows who she is: a capable and attractive woman, happy in her own skin and blessedly devoid of ego. In her profession, that’s an almost unheard-of combination.
In 2004, following the break-up of her relationship with actor Jonathan Kerrigan – the two had met and fallen in love on the set of Casualty – she met Craig, 38, on a blind date set up by a make-up artist on Waking The Dead. ‘Craig and I met at Starbucks in Chiswick at 11 o’clock one morning,’ she says. ‘Seven hours, and countless cups of coffee later, we were still there. Craig then had to go to a party. He told me later that he’d danced all night because he was so high on caffeine.’
They married in 2007 and, in September 2009, baby Amelia Grace was born. Claire has long since grown accustomed to the Mother Goose jokes, but it took her a lot longer to adjust to motherhood. ‘I love her with all my heart,’ she says, ‘but, from the start, Amelia was a terrible sleeper. She was up for two hours every night without fail, crying and wanting attention. We tried every thing we could think of but to no avail.’
In the end, out of desperation and on the recommendation of a friend of Olivia Coleman’s, they called in sleep expert Andrea Grace. Her recommendation was to leave Amelia to cry, but only for a matter of minutes. ‘That way, the child is constantly reassured that you’ll always come back, that you haven’t abandoned her,’ Claire explains. ‘Just three days of doing that and she slept through the night. The relief!’
Now Claire has the energy – and the time, after finishing Exile – for a social life, she bumped into former boyfriend Jonathan at a party at their agent’s not long ago. ‘I hadn’t seen him in a long time. He’s still with Shelley Conn [seen recently in the spooky ITV series Marchlands]. So much time has passed. It wasn’t remotely awkward.’ And she has remained good friends with Rebecca Lacey and Rebecca Wheatley – she sang at Claire and Craig’s wedding – from their shared Casualty days. Claire is godmother to Rebecca Lacey’s daughter, Betsy; Rebecca is godmother to Amelia.
It was Rebecca who first encouraged Claire to accept the invitation to pose for those daring pictures for the lads’ mags all those years ago. ‘I wasn’t sure, but Becks’s attitude was: Go for it! No one would ask me these days but the funny thing is, if they did, I’d probably be much less inhibited. Back then, I was self- conscious, insecure, too worried about how I’d come across.’ From her das on Waking The Dead, she’s remained close to Holly Aird, who is also a near neighbour. ‘That was a terrific series,’ she says, ‘with a fantastic cast: Trevor Eve, Sue Johnston, Will Mellor.’ But, in the end,
Sustained career: Claire has had a string of top TV roles in series including Casualty, Waking the Dead and the latest BBC drama Exile
Claire asked for her character, Mel Silver, to be killed off. ‘I’d asked the same executive producer to kill me off in Casualty but he refused. So when I asked him again on Waking The Dead, he obliged – quite spectacularly, in fact. I was thrown off a very high building. For years afterwards, people would come up to me and tell me my ‘death’ still haunted them because it was so unexpected and so violent. It made me feel quite guilty.’
Claire also supports her older brother’s One Water charity. Duncan Goose has been voted Entrepreneur of the Year in recognition of his work to provide affordable water to Africa. ‘It only costs about 7p to produce a bottle of water,’ she says, ‘but it’s sold for five or ten times that amount. And it’s a scandal. Why is all that money lining the pockets of fat cats while so many people in Africa are dying because they haven’t got enough water?
‘So I do whatever I can to help Duncan out. I got David Tennant involved when we were both working on an ITV drama serial called Secret Smile. It’s a positive way of using my celebrity – such as it is.’
Now, it seems, life couldn’t get any better for Claire. ‘I took a long break after Amelia was born but I realised my first day of filming an episode of Hustle and then working on Exile how happy I was. I love being married. I love being a mum. But there’s no shame in admitting that my work completes me.’
When she’s not at work, there’s little she likes better than taking Amelia to the local Starbucks where she first met the little girl’s father. ‘They know us really well in there. I have a coffee and she has a Babyccino – that’s frothy milk to you and me.’
Exile, BBC1 on 1, 2 and 3 May at 9pm.