"It's how London life really is" - With Idris Elba's award-winning comedy In The Long Run back for series 3 on Sky One, actress Kellie Shirley (aka Kirsty) answers our questions

Ready to return to 1980s East London for more laughs, banging tunes and dodgy clobber? You should be, because hit comedy In The Long Run is all set for a new run.

The first episode premieres at 10pm on Sky One on Thursday 23 July, with all episodes available to watch in On Demand the same day. That's what we call binge-tastic.

Loosely based on creator Idris Elba's own childhood, this hilarious series about the Easmon family's adjustment to British life after moving from Sierra Leone isn't just packed with laughs. It's also a smart study of community, race and politics during a decade of huge upheaval.

The new series looks set to be more eventful than ever, with Walter (Elba) trying to impress his mama following her arrival in the UK, Bagpipes (Bill Bailey) almost snuffing it and developers threatening the future of the Eastbridge Estate.

We recently caught up with actress Kellie Shirley, who plays Bagpipes' wife Kirsty, to find out more about the show, her time as a member of the EastEnders cast, and what she's been watching on the box during lockdown…

Hi Kellie! How was your experience filming In The Long Run series 3?

It was loads of fun. The best job you could wish for. The whole cast has become really good friends these past few years. Getting paid to wear a shell suit – I have to pinch myself.

When did you film it?

We filmed it exactly a year ago and it was glorious. It was great for me personally because we filmed just up the road in Peckham. I could just roll out of bed.

You've previously worked on one of British TV's best-loved soaps, EastEnders. How does filming a show like that compare to In The Long Run?

Filming EastEnders was so quick. It's very slick and choreographed. With In The Long Run it's more like being in a play. You have more time to rehearse and talk about the material. More luxurious, I'd say!

Is Idris Elba a tough taskmaster on set?

No, he brings everybody up. He completely believes in everybody, so he lets you get on with your job. Everyone can chuck ideas in. I've never really had that before, when someone is so open to your ideas. He's not precious about something. He's very generous.

And what about working with Bill Bailey? Is he as funny as we can imagine?

He's funny, but he's also a complete gentleman. He's a dying breed. He's very knowledgeable about so many things, it's insane. When I work with him I learn so much about life. He's fascinating.

What makes In The Long Run such a popular show?

It's one of the only shows with a black family at its helm. It's also proper working class. It's on an estate and it's all the different cultures mixed in together. It's how London life really is. There's no tokenism and it's how I remember the 1980s when I was growing up. Plus, the music is amazing.

Is acting something that gets easier or harder the further you go into your career?

The older you get, the better you get. The more life experience you have, the more you have in your box of tricks. I used to worry about how I looked so much, but I've made peace that I'm not a supermodel. I'm an actress and it doesn't matter if I get wrinkly. I want my face to move!

What have you been watching during lockdown?

I've been watching The Last Dance on Netflix. Michael Jordan reminds me of Idris a little bit. He's got the same kind of charisma and gravitas. It's brilliant. I've also been watching I May Destroy You, which has been destroying me. And I recently watched Parasite. Oh. My. God.

Finally, In The Long Run is steeped in 1980s nostalgia. What are your favourite films from that decade?

Big. The Breakfast Club. A Nightmare On Elm Street. There's just so many. I'm going to kick myself for forgetting other ones!

Original article published by Virgin Media