Helen George may star in one of the most successful dramas on TV, but has said she still faces snobbery from directors over her Call the Midwife role.
The actor, 36, is currently filming the 11th series of the BBC show, but despite it regularly smashing ratings and occupying the Christmas Day prime scheduling slot, she says she's encountered directors who claim never to have seen it.
George, who plays Trixie, told You magazine: "I go to a lot of auditions where very successful directors sit there with their legs crossed and say, 'Oh well, I’ve never watched Call the Midwife. I don’t have a TV.' I think, 'You’ve got a laptop you could watch it on but you’ve prejudged it. And you don’t need to say that to me. Come on!'"
Other cast members have talked about similar issues, with Judy Parfitt who plays Sister Monica Joan complaining about it being overlooked at the Baftas by saying: "People want to be 'woke' and feel they can’t nominate Call the Midwife."
But while George said the show didn't need awards, she said that Call the Midwife "has absolutely been ahead of the woke movement" for 10 years by tackling diverse subjects.
George also praised the show for being a "safe haven" for women in the business, contrasting it to jobs she'd had where id a male actor or director spoke "you should be quiet".
She said: "It’s been a safe haven. We’re produced by women, the show is written by women, the majority of the cast is female. So the feeling you can sometimes get on other jobs – of intimidation, being talked down to, being looked over – isn’t there."
George added: "The fact I’m blonde and small-featured, I have found in the past that my voice has not been listened to. If there’s ever an issue or a problem I’m seen as making trouble. Whereas if there’s an issue on Call the Midwife it is listened to and understood."
The star talked about a "shift" in culture on TV sets to protect women filming intimate scenes, and while she said that her experiences were "not as bad as a lot of poor women", she said that she was relieved intimacy directors were now employed as standard.
She admitted that in the past, female actors had to put up with "being groped in whatever way the actor chose to grope you" or be accused of causing problems.
Watch: How Call the Midwife birth scenes are shot