Amanda Abbington's star is shining so brightly at the moment it’s dazzling. She is everywhere, covering all the bases on stage, TV and film.

"I know, I'm sorry," she laughs. "It's just how it turned out. It will all die down soon and I'll fall back into obscurity. But it is fantastic at the moment and I'm very lucky. I do know that.

"That's the hideousness and beauty of this job. It keeps you on your toes. And keeps you working hard. I'm a grafter and I think it pays off"... she tails off. "It's all about working hard and trying to be nice."

After playing Miss Mardle in Mr Selfridge and Mary Morstan in Sherlock, and with two new films coming out, Amanda is about to hit the Oxford playhouse in Mike Leigh's iconic Abigail's Party, about suburban life going very, very wrong.

who were very contained, I can unleash in all in Beverly instead."

Yet with her star ascending faster than Beverley’s Beaujolais consumption, a touring production in the provinces seems an unlikely choice.

“Well I had to do it, of course. I couldn’t resist. I’ve always wanted to play that role. It’s a really iconic part for a woman," Amanda tells me.

“I was a bit trepidatious because of Alison Steadman, you can’t not be. But it’s such a wonderful part, and wonderful storytelling, and I really wanted to work with Sarah Esdaile the director.

“Because Mike Leigh does the middle classes so beautifully, where everything appears fine on the surface but he finds that thread and unravels it all. I love his storytelling. What looks mundane from the outside is actually a tsunami of emotions underneath.

“Abigail’s Party is so dark yet fun at the same time and I think people forget that. They remember the cheesy pineapple and the Demi Roussos and forget how iconic it is.”

“But it’s not a vehicle piece. We all have our moment in the sun.”

I beg to differ because with two new films on the horizon, Hollywood is beckoning. Another Mother's Son is set in Nazi-occupied Jersey, and Crooked House is a full blown Agatha Christie starring Glenn Close and Christina Hendricks.

"It was nice to be validated," Amanda admits, "but Hollywood? I don't think I'm their type. I'm too fat, ugly and old. I'm not really Hollywood material am I? But if I was offered something great then of course, if people wanted me to do something. We make so much brilliant stuff here that I don't need to go to LA to validate myself but if I'm invited then great."

And then she pauses: "It's not always been like this by the way. Acting absolutely has to be in your soul. It's something you have to do, not want to do, and even then you still think about giving up.

So was it Mr Sherlock or Sherlock that made the difference? "Sherlock definitively put me into a different realm so will always have a special place in my heart."

Which brings us onto the awkward question of starring with her husband and father of her two children, Martin Freeman, mid-break-up. "We split up about a year ago. We're still mates, things happened and we went our own ways but we still have a good relationship. He's with someone else now and so am I, but we are best mates."

No 'conscious uncoupling' then? "Whatever that means," she laughs. "No we were just mature about it for the kids, you have to. It makes you more mature and better friends. Dealing with my kids and putting the bins out keep me sane."

So with Martin away filming, and a busy agenda of her own, Amanda says her mum and dad step in and her best friend Sue." I couldn't do it without them so thank God for them."

Not that will change any time soon with Abigail's Party opening on Monday. "It's nice to cherry pick roles for a change and get to play these amazing parts, like Beverly, I love her. She's not a very nice person, she's very flawed and spoilt, but then all the characters are in their own personal hell and the play just magnifies that. They are all desperately unhappy and the audience goes through it with them."

Abigail’s Party is at The Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford, from April 3-8

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