Shorty St’s long-serving Rachel opens up about her marriage breakup, Botox, on-set flings and how she can whip up a costume for her kids.

For some reason - despite her having been on the telly and so in the public eye forever, and me having been writing about people in the public eye forever - I have never interviewed Angela Bloomfield. She has been Rachel on Shortland Street since she was 19 (with breaks for babies and time off-screen when she was directing) and she is about to turn 42. Little Rachel! 42! She still looks the same: Very little (she says she is five foot two, but this is optimistic) all over, with tiny hands and feet and features and voice, and she is very pretty ("You should choose beautiful people every week," said the photographer, the big fawner. I told him off but she said: "That's nice!")

She used to be a sexpot. I said: "Are you still a sexpot?" She, like Rachel, can deliver a witheringly cool look. "What do you mean?" Didn't she used to be a sexpot? "Did I? What does that mean? You're talking about Rachel, eh? Not me!"

Oh. Yeah. "Yeah!" she said. "I'm one of the ageing actors." She wanted a plain fizzy water because she had to do a promo shot, wearing a sheet, and she didn't want bumpy bits. She must be terribly vain. I pointed out some little cakes, with icing. She took no persuading. It must be very strange to have had to watch what you look like for so many years, but I don't think she is particularly vain. Rachel is a few years younger; she's 39. "But she's not going to have a 40th, put it that way. Though she should." She knows Rachel is 39 because the producers worked this out last year when a character appeared with an elixir of youth and "they started talking about Botox and I was like: 'Botox! What are you guys doing!"

She is an actor. I had a good look at her face. I wouldn't play poker with her. Has she had Botox? "Little bit!" I said I bet that Michael Galvin (who plays her on-screen estranged husband, Chris Warner) had had lashings of Botox. I made this up but serve him right for playing such a bounder. She said: "Do you think? I do look at him sometimes and think: 'You've got no lines!' I remember years ago ... someone brought up Botox and I think I'd already had it a couple of times and so I was just ... pretending I knew nothing about it! And he was like: 'I would never do that!'" I wondered whether Shortland Street paid for her Botox and she said: "They don't know I do it!" Of course they do. "Well, they might!" They will now. "Oh God!"


While we were letting cats out of bags, I tried to get her to tell me how many Shortland Street actors she'd had youthful flings with. "I have been here for 20 years! Chances are." Who? "I can't tell you that!" She told me one. Michael Galvin. And a camera operator. "I'm not going to sit here and tell you all the names!" Are there more then? "No! No!" Not Martin Henderson. Honestly. Some sexpot she turned out to be.

She's used to being confused with Rachel. When she arrived I opened my mouth to call out to her and had to shut it again as I cast about for her name. I owned up, later, and she laughed and said: "Yes, R R R'Ange!" I had a weird question. Did she now look like Rachel or did Rachel look like her? That might be one of those existential acty questions, or it might be just weird. "Yeah!" she said, meaning, I think, both of those things. "This isn't my chosen hair style. What would her chosen hair style be? "Longer. Scragglier ... I don't have any of the power over what I look like visually. Apart from the fact that I sneak off and have Botox. They like that, really. They want me to look young!"

I said I hoped she's still be playing Rachel in another 20 years. She hopes not. It would be interesting to watch. "Ha, ha. It would be a really good social experiment."

I said: "I thought you'd be a bit of a cow." I was possibly confusing her with Rachel again. She said: "In real life? Nooo. Possibly on a bad day." One lives in hope. She said: "I'm a bit beige." She isn't, but she can act at being a bit beige. I said: "You're quite mumsie." She said: "That's one aspect of me. I think I'm lots of different things." She and her writer friend, Kate McDermott, have made two short films, and are working on a proposal for a TV show, so the mumsie was most unfair.

At least I wasn't confusing her with Rachel again, and she had been telling me that she knits and sews and goes to a shop called Spotlight, which I'd never heard of. "You've never been to Spotlight! Oh, my goodness!" It sells wool for knitting and arcane things for crafts.

She loves it. "It's cheap as chips!" She has a sewing machine. Who has a sewing machine? "I can whip up a good costume. I think that's why I had children, really. For face-painting them and putting them in crazy costumes."

I think I know the reason I have never interviewed her before. She mostly does those bland promo interviews with women's magazines in which nothing of any interest is ever said and in which, because copy approval is given, everyone sounds as though they talk like robots programmed to say boring but lovely things about their perfect lives. All of which is perfectly fine, if you like reading about people's perfect lives, but I find it all perfectly boring, if not a bit sick-making.

She does, or did, seem to have had the perfect life: The lovely job with the lovely money and the perfect husband (Chris Houston) and two kids - Maya and Max - who are no doubt lovely. And this is all very nice for her, but of no interest to me. But she has also done the odd interview in which she has come across as frosty. Rachel is frosty. So, more confusion? "I think people have a preconceived idea of what I am, because of what they've mostly seen of me."

She does know which interview I was talking about because she showed it to a girlfriend who said it made her sound like a diva, which was cool, said the girlfriend. "I went: 'Okay!'"

This might be partly why I went "okay" too. It is coming up to Shortland Street's end of year cliffhanger (on December 11) but nothing can be given away about that - except that she has the scripts, obviously, and which caused her to say something a bit stronger than "oh my goodness". She had to fill me in a bit on what's been going on and she said: "Do you not even watch it?" Umm, a bit. She was feigning outrage. She said, possibly with some relief: "That's all right. It's not something I need to talk about."

The funny thing was I wasn't quite sure what we were here - in the cafe at a garden centre just around the corner from the Shortland Street set, in Henderson - to talk about. I'd been sent an email asking if I'd like to talk to her, because she had volunteered to talk to me.

"Chris and I have separated. I thought you might have known that. That's the whole thing about me having a sit-down with you."


She thought I knew what she wanted to talk to me about, or that I would have guessed, but I honestly didn't have a clue. So we stumbled awkwardly towards the subject with me asking about her perfect life and her husband, who used to stay at home with the kids while she made the money. I asked if he was still being a house husband and she took a deep breath and said: "Chris and I have separated. I thought you might have known that. That's the whole thing about me having a sit-down with you." To which I said something like "oh my goodness!"

They have been apart for two years after having been together for 11, but it is only now she can talk about it without crying (it was her decision, but that didn't make it any easier, of course.) And she wanted to tell me so as to get it out in the open so that she can go back to doing publicity, which she has been avoiding - and was the reason for that frosty, diva interview in which she refused to answer questions.

I suppose my "oh, my goodness" reaction was because she was the happy-ever-after girl. "Well, I remember saying in articles ... divorce isn't a word in my vocabulary. I don't believe in it. Rah, rah, rah. And when you set yourself up like that ... Never! Never! Never!, the world goes: 'Well, let's just have a little poke and prod around at this.' I think marriage is wonderful but I don't think it needs to mean that you have to be this person ... You know, I was a bit forsaking all others, including myself ... And then I kind of went: 'Oh, God. I'm so out of touch with who I am and what I am.'"

Her best friend said at the time: "'Are you having a thespian crisis?' And I was just like: ' ... That's offensive!' And then I thought: 'No, it's not ... I did sometimes find myself in an argument: 'Who is talking like this?' Just stop talking because you know how loud you can be and sometimes when you get upset, you're going to be this loud because you were a couple of weeks ago on the telly."

We talked about her marriage break-up for a long time and I still wasn't sure why she'd decided to tell me (she said part of her was hoping I wouldn't ask about Chris and then she wouldn't have to tell, even though it was her reason for wanting to do the interview.) She said she didn't want to do a women's magazine story about it, all brave and smiley, with pics of the children. She didn't want Chris to see that. She still loves him.

I was quite flattered that she had chosen to tell me, really, But I said I wasn't a very good therapist and she said: "No!", a bit too emphatically. I handed her a paper serviette and she said: "Oh, I'm supposed to be crying!"

I said (very bad therapist) that she'd never get another man, because she couldn't go on dates because everyone would gawk at her, and him. Five minutes after we arrived a couple of chaps came over and asked to take a picture with her. One was from Croatia and had been in the country for six days and was already hooked on Shorty St and, patently, her.

In fact, she hasn't been on a date in the two years because nobody has asked. It would be hard going out with her, I said, meaning because of chaps from Croatia, for example. She raised her eyebrows and said: "Because I'm such a diva and a sexpot?"

Who knows what she'll end up being? Whatever she chooses, I hope. She's far from being that boring, perfect person in the magazines, and hooray for that.