Charlotte Ritchie: 'Watching people eat on TV is absurd'

The star of Ghosts, Fresh Meat and Call The Midwife on the pomposity of MasterChef and the children’s TV villain who still haunts her

The last show you loved

I May Destroy You from Michaela Coel was incredible; it didn’t pull any punches. It was a tough watch, but it was groundbreaking. That word probably gets used quite a lot, but it felt like a new type of show to me. It was epic and detailed, and I loved the ending – it said “screw you” to our ideas of what a TV show should or shouldn’t be.

The best performance you’ve seen on TV

It’s hard to choose a single performance in Stefan Golaszewski’s Mum because they are all brilliant. Lesley Manville is just heartbreaking, and Lisa McGrillis is a fantastic comedy performer. A lot of my favourite actors play roles that tread that line between melancholy and comedy, where a character could be unbelievably funny and awful one second, and then vulnerable the next. Life isn’t usually as serious as it comes across in dramas, so I think comedy-drama is probably the most accurate form of TV.

Your TV turn-offs

I don’t mind cookery shows, but the worst bit is when they taste the food. I can’t explain it – I don’t know whether it’s the noise or the fact that we are watching people do something that can we can’t join in with. There’s also the pomposity of it, like on MasterChef – these people with their big glasses of wine, who have somehow been ordained as expert food eaters, which is something that we all can do. It’s absurd; it’s like judging someone on how they go to the loo.

Your TV guilty pleasure

My ex-boyfriend used to watch a lot of Love Island. I would always go around to his and complain about it, and then, within five minutes, I would be telling anyone off if they spoke over the contestants. I find it fascinating, although life after the show can be so difficult for the contestants.

Mum’s the word ... Kat and Zoe Slater in EastEnders
Mum’s the word ... Kat and Zoe Slater in EastEnders Photograph: BBC

Your favourite TV moment

I’m not sure if it’s my favourite, but, weirdly, I vividly remember finding out that Cat was Zoe’s mother on EastEnders. It’s quite a sad moment, really, when you think about it.

The best TV villain of all time

It’s a bit of a hard one – because, of course, she was portraying a real person so I feel a bit conflicted about this – but Monica Dolan was beyond chilling as Rose West. Then there was Omar Little in The Wire, played by Michael K Williams. He was so charismatic. When I was younger I was also really scared of a cartoon called The Racoons, about these gangster racoons – one of them smoked a cigar and had a yellow tooth. Children’s TV can be so scary; there was this show called Roger and the Rottentrolls that was horrible, too. I have only met one other person in the world who remembers it: Kiell Smith-Bynoe, who plays my husband in Ghosts.

The show you wish you could guest star on

I wouldn’t guest star on it, but, in an imaginary world, I would host Later with Jools Holland. Ideally, I would also get Jools’s piano playing abilities, too.

The second series of Ghosts starts on BBC One and iPlayer on 21 September


Interview by Hannah J Davies

The GuardianTramp

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