Edinburgh River City star Lindsey is keeping mum as stalker story line reaches terrifying climax
Since the start of the year viewers have watched as the stalking of Poppy has gathered pace, taking its toll on the Shiledinch lawyer, played by Edinburgh actress Lindsey Campbell.
"It has been a great storyline to do in terms of having something to grapple with," the actress says. "In the past, Poppy has spent her time helping other people in dire situations and falling in love, so it was great to have something really different, difficult and sensitive to wrestle with, a lot of the research was quite harrowing."
There are four potential stalkers in the frame, Poppy’s boyfriend Stevie, played by Iain Robertson, teen mum Ruby, played by Zindzi Hudson, the doctor’s son Cameron, played by Michael Wallace and criminal Tyler, played by Cameron Fulton. On Monday December 14, viewers will discover just who the guilty party is, but Poppy won’t find out until the New Year. That said, Campbell has known all along but is giving nothing away.
The 32-year-old, who was educated at St George's School for Girls, admits, "I knew from the start but had to quickly forget once I started playing each scene as the scripts arrived, going with the twists and turns the writers came up with.
"It was very clever, there were different reasons for each suspect to be the stalker: Tyler has always been quite forward with Poppy, he's sent her flowers, phoned her a lot, made quite a few advances and doesn't seem to be worried about her response or the response of the police; in terms of Ruby, she's always been quite resentful of Poppy who is representing her mum at her trial for the murder of Ruby’s ex-partner and father of her baby; with Cameron, although he has always been very supportive of Poppy, we still don't know a great deal about him; and Stevie, Poppy's boyfriend, is a really interesting one because we factored in the Corona virus lockdown, Stevie and Poppy spent that time apart. For lots of couples in this situation, spending that much time apart can really warp their relationship and where it is going.”
Having never been stalked herself, Campbell researched the topic to make her performance as real as possible, she says, "In the last few years, stalking has become something that is spoken about a lot more, especially in terms of women in the public eye. Before, I got the impression people thought it was just something that went with being famous, but with social media it seems to be happening now at a more domestic level. It's so easy to top pop up in someone's life, on their phone, and intimidate them in cruel and insidious ways.
"Sadly, in the research I did, I discovered a lot of stalking is done by a partner, ex partner or someone the person knows. Stalking is about control and there have been hints in the past that is something Stevie struggles with, Poppy's a very confident, assertive, independent person who has a strong passion for her career which is something he has had to adjust to, but although I've gone more into that, it's not me saying it Stevie is the stalker, there are lots of other reasons for the other people that I could into too."
So, when the viewers find out who it is, will they be surprised, kick themselves, or go, 'I knew it'?
"It will probably be a mixture of all three..." she says, before teasing further, "...but who's to say it is even one of those four, it could be someone who has not been on the screen yet, that might be the biggest red herring of all."
Campbell's love of acting came when she was cast in a Leitheatre production of To Kill A Mockingbird at the age of 12, before that, however, she made her stage debut in church hall pantomimes at Wardie Church, in north Edinburgh, where she was brought up.
"I played very insignificant parts in the background with no lines. I believe my first part was that of a badger, wearing this arts and craft badger mask in Sleeping Beauty or something that had animals in the chorus, but my love of performing came from Leitheatre's To Kill A Mockingbird, which I did for a week at the Church Hill Theatre."
She laughs, as she explains, "Someone must have been very impressed with my badger because they said, 'We should see you for that,' and I ended up playing Scout. That was my first time thinking, 'This is really fun, I'm acting and people give me a clap at the end’. Looking back, To Kill A Mockingbird is an amazing story with important moral issues, even as a kid it was the story and characterisation that fascinated me."
At 14, Campbell joined LYT, the Lyceum Youth Theatre.
"That was in the early days when it was still quite a small organisation and was a fantastic time," she recalls. "Now it's a proper institution but back then, for me, it was just about meeting other kids from all over Edinburgh who were interested in the same thing. A lot of the people I met there are still very close friends today. Colin Brady and Steve Small were the pioneers who set it up and I remember saying, 'I want to do this,' to Steve when I'd managed to get a CBBC job through the youth theatre, and he said, 'Lindsey, if you think you can go to 100 auditions and get rejected from 99 and still want to do this job, then give it a go'.
That's always been a touch point I've carried through the years."
It was also at the Lyceum that Campbell first saw one of her favourite actresses perform, Edinburgh's Kathryn Howden, who plays Maggie McLean in the soap.
"I have been such a fan of Kath Howden from the age of 13,” she beams. “When I knew I was joining River City I looked at the cast and saw she was in it, I was starstruck. I love working doing scenes with her."
Right now those scenes are unlike any she has performed before as the soap is filmed within the restrictions enforced by the pandemic.
"The way producers, crew, cast and every single person involved has adapted to the pandemic has been staggering. There's so much work to make sure it is safe and that everyone is protected. I've been back two month now and it has all gone so smoothly. The worry we all had when we got back was that we'd be all off again within two weeks, but it has been very strict - two metre distancing at all times, a one way system, daily briefings, temperature checks and hand sanitiser everywhere. It's been a huge thing for everyone to adapt to, the cast are even doing their own hair and makeup."
Which begs the question, is there one cast member yet to master those skills?
"That's me, apparently," she laughs. "There are a few fan pages on Facebook, on one, someone had asked if there was a different actress playing Poppy and the response was, 'No, no, she's just doing her own hair and make-up'. So, I'm the one."
Watch River City, BBC One Scotland, Monday, December 14, to discover the identity of Poppy’s stalker