Victoria Smurfit tells Wil Marlow why she likes playing characters who aren't perfect...
A nondescript car park in west London is not the best place to spend a summer's afternoon, nor is it the glamorous location you would necessarily expect from one of ITV's most popular dramas.
But it's here we find Victoria Smurfit as she films the latest instalment of Lynda La Plante's Trial & Retribution.
It's a simpler tale than previous ones, called The Lovers, in which the husband of a newly married couple inexplicably goes missing while they shop in London's busy Covent Garden.
After being delayed by a last minute script change, Victoria bounds into her trailer, all smiles and immediately chatty.
The 31-year-old has been working on the Trial & Retribution series since 2003 when she joined as DCI Roisin Connor, the hard-nosed, no-nonsense detective who puts her job above everything else. It's immediately obvious this is a role Victoria loves, despite, or perhaps because, it's a world away from her own personality.
"Love it, love it," she says of the role. "How often do you get to play a strong female who's deeply flawed, who's not there just as someone's wife, or girlfriend, or mother? Lynda does that very well.
"And also she doesn't write women in an ideological way; she doesn't write them on a pedestal. She writes them human and aggressive and cynical and flawed and complicated and it's very rare you see that. Lynda knows her brand. There is a serious market for women to be able to watch women.
"We have a DCI, Lucy, that comes round to advise us and she was so excited about doing it. She loves Lynda's female characters because she is one of many young women out there who want to be women and put lipstick on and brush their hair, they don't want to pretend to be men, but they are at the top of their game."
Trial & Retribution isn't Victoria's only baby any more. In November of last year she gave birth to her first child - a daughter, Evie. Victoria is even more animated and passionate when the subject turns to motherhood. She revels in it and enjoyed a good seven months of being a stay-athome mum before returning to work on Trial & Retribution.
"It was the perfect amount of time actually," says Victoria. "The first three months are so overwhelming, you don't really know which way is up. And then I had three months of having great fun with her.
"We have an incredible bond. Now it's fun because I come home at night and she squawks at me as in, 'Make me laugh, Mum'. So we spend a few hours giggling. She's great fun, a strong little chicken."
Victoria gets out her mobile phone and shows me a picture of a ridiculously cute baby with the biggest blue eyes, very much like her mum's.
"Oh no, they're much bluer than mine will ever be," counters the actress. "She's the spit of Daddy really."
Daddy is Douglas Baxter, a businessman who Victoria met when Douglas, now the owner of a successful internet company, was an executive of the Irish Post, based in London.
"Eamonn Holmes usually presented their annual awards, but he was too busy," recalls Victoria. "Then it was a toss up between me and Henry Kelly. Ivanhoe had just been on television so they chose me. I always tease Doug that he could have been married to Henry Kelly instead."
Douglas proposed just three months after they'd met and they married in 2000. Five years later they're still going strong, with Victoria taking to motherhood like a duck to water.
"I've changed since becoming a mum, you have to," she says. "Suddenly you think the whole world is dangerous and you learn to start thinking three or four steps ahead of everything.
"I'll be pushing the buggy and I'll be watching someone with a cigarette and it's dangling down and that's about buggy height so I'll go left because there's no one smoking there but I'm looking over that way as well.
"You're always looking to see what's going on to make sure the decks are cleared."
Victoria is bringing her daughter up in Dublin, her own childhood home until she was a teenager.
"I think to bring up a kid it's nicer, safer, kinder and gentler in Ireland. When you're in Dublin you think 'Jesus, it's a hectic city' but it's not in comparison to London. The centre of Dublin is chaos, thankfully I love that. I've got to have a bit of chaos, a bit of neon. But it's not too much. I like the idea of Evie having a similar reference as myself."
Brought up in Dalkey, near Dublin, Victoria moved with her family to Ascot in Berkshire when her parents split up. It was a privileged upbringing, as her father was the paper and packaging magnate Dermot Smurfit.
Her parents weren't keen on her long-held ambitions to be an actress, but she was determined to make a success of it and won a coveted place at the Bristol Old Vic. Since then she's clocked up a number of roles in both film and TV, including most notably About A Boy opposite Hugh Grant and the role of Orla in the long-running Ballykissangel.
For now though her focus is completely on Trial & Retribution, and of course Evie. As soon as she finished on The Lovers she had a week off before beginning filming on the following instalment, Sins Of The Father, which will be screening in February.
"It's very different again," says Victoria. "We're looking at the concept of justice. I always find Lynda's stretching the question of what justice is.
"There are always surprises. The end of this one really does challenge your concept of what is just and what is right."
* Trial & Retribution: The Lovers is on ITV1 on Monday and Tuesday.