Interview with Genevieve Hulme-Beaman (’70s Oonagh Kennedy)

Strike: Troubled Blood aired shortly before Christmas on BBC One and iPlayer, with supporting actress Genevieve Hulme-Beaman portraying a younger version of the character Oonagh Kennedy. Present-day Oonagh is portrayed by Fionnula Flanagan. Read our Q&A with Genevieve below.

Who is your character and how does she fit into the story?

I play Oonagh Kennedy in the 1970s. Oonagh is a great character. I was buzzed when the audition came in — it’s not every day you get the chance to play a bunny girl turned vicar. Oonagh was well ahead of her time, very independent and determined to carve her own path in life, all traits that she shared with her best friend, Margot Bamborough. They met while working together in a bunny bar/ kitty club in London, and they were due to meet up the evening that Margot disappeared. Oonagh has been dying to tell her story ever since that night.

Genevieve Hulme-Beaman as Oonagh Kennedy (left), director Sue Tully, and Abigail Lawrie (Credit: BBC/Bronte Film and TV)

How was it working with director Sue Tully?

It was an absolute joy working with Sue Tully. I really admire her work. She was super clear about what she wanted from each scene, and it was a very happy cast and crew. It’s such a privilege to work with a director who has so much experience both behind and in front of the camera. Any actor would jump at the opportunity to work with her. I certainly did!

What was it like working with Abigail Lawrie?

Abigail is brilliant. We got along really well straight away. I feel like that’s so important when you’re playing friends because it always comes across on screen. I really admire the way she works — she had some really tough scenes coming up but nothing seemed to faze her. She’s so comfortable in front of the camera, and I learnt a lot from watching her.

Abigail Lawrie as Margot Bamborough (Credit: BBC/Bronte Film and TV)

Did you meet present-day Oonagh actress, Fionnula Flanagan?

I did! This was a HUGE highlight for me. I’m a big fan of Fionnula Flanagan. The Others was one of my absolute favourite films when I was a teenager. (Fionnula Flanagan and Nicole Kidman make friends in a very spooky situation! If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth a watch.) It was really inspiring for me to see an Irish actress in a film of that scale. So, as you can imagine, when I found out I would be sharing a role with Fionnula, I was VERY happy. Even though we didn’t share any scenes, we did meet up. It was the day before Fionnula started filming, and we had a cup of tea in a trailer in Shoreditch. We had a great chat. We spoke about the script and Oonagh and the traits that she would have held on to throughout her life. Ireland is small, so of course, we found out we had some friends in common, and it turns out we grew up very near each other in Dublin. I hope we work together again and that next time we have some scenes together.

Where was the club scene filmed?

The club scenes were filmed in a night club in Clapham. I think it was called Infernoes. It was just around the corner from where I once lived, and it felt very surreal going into a 1960s nightclub first thing in the morning.  

Abigail Lawrie as Margot in the club scene (Credit: BBC/Bronte Film and TV)

What was it like to film the scene with Paul Satchwell?

That scene was fun. It’s always fun to have a bit of a meaty scene in the mix. Giles Matthey was nothing like his character — he’s a lovely person and was lovely to work with.

Were you a Strike fan before getting the part? Had you read the books?

As soon as the audition came in for Oonagh, I started reading Troubled Blood. After that, I watched all the previous TV series. So, I went about it all a bit backwards, but I love a murder mystery so I enjoyed every bit of it. It was also an absolute gift to have so much detail and description about Oonagh ahead of filming. I’m now about 50 pages into The Ink Black Heart and loving it.

Are you a fan of JK Rowling’s other works?

I was a bit late to the party. I only started reading Harry Potter during lockdown! I couldn’t believe how quickly I got sucked in. The characters are brilliant. I genuinely missed them all once I finished.

What other current and upcoming projects do you have?

Since filming Strike, I’ve been very lucky and had some really nice jobs, both on stage and camera. The biggest and toughest job was playing Lucia Joyce in a play called ‘Joyce’s Women’ written by Edna Obrien and performed on the Abbey stage (the national Theatre of Ireland). The play was about the incredible women in James Joyce’s life. Lucia was his daughter, she was an amazing person, an artist and dancer who ended up spending most of her life in asylums. It was a very challenging role to play, but an amazing person to learn about and to embody. I’m hoping that ‘Joyce’s Women’ will be back and hopefully have a tour.

I’m in a short film called Burn It All that’s about to go to the Manchester International Film Festival. It’s already won awards in Galway and Kerry, so that’s one to watch out for.


See Genevieve Hulme-Beaman as Oonagh Kennedy in Strike: Troubled Blood on BBC iPlayer now.

Credit: BBC/Bronte Film and TV