It's perhaps all the more appropriate she snuck up on us. This time last year, when early murmurs about a glamorous new BBC thriller called Killing Eve travelled from across the pond, where it premiered, the show's winning components seemed obvious.
The script was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who had already created one of the best new series of the decade in Fleabag ; Luke Jennings, the author of its source novellas, Codename Villanelle , had been compared to Ian Fleming; and if you read the US previews, reviews or, latterly, even Emmy nominations, you'd could have been forgiven for thinking Killing Eve's standout performance was from Sandra Oh, the veteran Canadian actress playing Eve herself.
As it was, a little-known 25-year-old from Liverpool was about to surprise us all – and in the most entertainingly brutal manner possible...
If you wanted to know how popular Jodie Comer's victory for leading actress at the Baftas on Sunday night was, just listen to the audience's roar after Steve Coogan said her name. It wasn't that the other nominees – Keeley Hawes, Ruth Wilson and, tellingly, Sandra Oh – weren't brilliant last year, it was that Comer's turn as Killing Eve's shape-shifting, accent-switching, self-confessed psychopath assassin Villanelle, felt too good to go unrewarded.
"Sorry, I'm the only one who's turned on the waterworks," a tearful Comer said as she took to the stage, surprising many with her real accent: deliciously Scouse to the core.
From there, perhaps the most sought-after young actress in British TV was the picture of gratitude and humility. (Earlier, Benedict Cumberbatch's smooth, "I'm very used to being a bridesmaid, not the bride" wasn't quite as convincing.)
Comer, now 26, thanked Waller-Bridge and Jennings, as well as mentioning the BBC, cast and crew. She paid tribute to fellow Scouse actor Stephen Graham – telling him "I owe you a pint" for recommending her to his agent when she was 16 and mentoring her since – before her parents, Donna and Jimmy, and her "gorgeous brother", Charlie.
But most movingly of all, she dedicated the award to her grandmother, who passed away the the first week of filming on Killing Eve . "She never got to see Villanelle, but she was the life and soul of everything. When she was here, she used to say, 'You get it off me, you know.'" Comer said. "Nana Frances, you were absolutely right all along." If Britain didn't love her before, they certainly did now.
Jodie Marie Comer was born in Liverpool in 1993, and she technically hasn't left. When she isn't travelling (which is a lot, given Killing Eve was filmed in Paris, Berlin, Romania, Tuscany and London), she still lives with her parents, five minutes from where Brookside was filmed, and has no intention of moving, yet. Her father Jimmy, has worked for Everton Football Club as a massage therapist for the past two decades, while her mother, Donna, works for a transport company. Even today, the priest from her local parish writes letters to Comer explaining where he sees the humanity in the characters she plays. That must have been an interesting assignment when Villanelle came around.
Education came from a local Catholic girls' school – where she met her best friend, the Team GB heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson – and her drama breakthrough came at 13, when she won a competition by reciting a monologue about the Hillsborough disaster. "When I introduced that I was already crying," Comer said recently. "I remember my drama teacher saying, 'You need to learn how to control it.' I always really felt things quite deeply…"
Acting remained a Saturday pursuit, along with dance, until she was recommended for a part in a Radio 4 play being recorded in the city. She met Graham around the same time, which led to an agent, which led to parts. Yet there was never a desire for drama school. "It sounds so intense, that 9-7 every day of someone drilling something into me…" she has said. "The thought of that wasn't something that I wanted. I think a lot of what makes people brilliant is their quirks and their flaws."
Comer's first screen role was in The Royal Today , a spin-off of Heartbeat , when she was 14. Two years later she appeared as a 16-year-old schoolgirl with a chronic, mysterious vomiting problem in Holby City (it turned out the character was allergic to her mother's new exotic flower shop, of course). The clip on YouTube is festooned with fans commenting on how young she looks, but she could probably still play a teenager. As a colleague who interviewed her last year put it, "she's got the best skin I've ever seen on a human face".
She ran every stop on the British television gauntlet: small roles in Casualty , Doctors , Silent Witness , Waterloo Road ... and then finally a bigger part in the E4 sitcom My Mad Fat Diary came along.
"She was so young, but she radiated inner confidence without a hint of arrogance," says Jude Liknaitzky, who, along with Roanna Benn, was executive producer on the show. "She was entirely serious about her work, we were blown away by how incredibly brave and naturally gifted she was."
A couple of years later, Liknaitzky and Benn worked with Comer again on the BBC's thriller Doctor Foster , in which – at just 21 – she played 'the other woman' to Suranne Jones with frightening maturity.
"That character couldn't have been more different from Jodie, and yet she nailed every nuance, every tiny twitch and undercurrent," Benn says. "She is phenomenal to work with. She is such a clear, deep-thinking and committed person: fearless, lacking in vanity and magnetic all at the same time."
It appears there's not a bad word to be found about her. Actors are infamous for blowing smoke up one another whenever an opportunity presents itself, but the outpouring of love (luvv?) for Comer in messages on social media on Sunday night – among them from Ryan Reynolds, Sheridan Smith, Gemma Chan, Johnson-Thompson and, most pleasingly, Everton Football Club's official account – seemed entirely genuine.
Just as she does. Like the last British actress whose Bafta speech brought down the house, Olivia Colman, or her hero, Dame Julie Walters, a large part of Comer's appeal is that she seems resolutely normal.
She adores HP Sauce and posts as much on Instagram, where her biography is just a Bruce Springsteen lyric. She refuses to lose her accent, even if it so confounds American talk show hosts (from Seth Meyers to Ellen DeGeneres) that they spend most of the time talking about it. She uses her Twitter profile not to promote her website but that of a campaign called Tyred, which fights for a restriction on old coach tyres after an 18-year-old boy from her hometown was killed when a one blew from the coach on which he was travelling back from Bestival in 2012. And whenever anybody asks her what her hobbies are when she's not filming, she's honest: "I don't have any hobbies. I like to go and drink gin with my friends, and I like to dance."
Last year, Comer mentioned a boyfriend in Liverpool, but it now appears she's single. "I don't know if it's particularly because I've played a psychopath," she said recently, "[but] I really don't get approached at all." Between filming Killing Eve , which will have another series after the second, and her first Hollywood film, Free Guy (with Reynolds), and all the other scripts she must be being sent, there probably isn't a lot of time for all that anyway.
In character as Villanelle, Comer once wore a signet ring engraved with the words of Queen Victoria. "The important thing is not what they think of me," it read, "but what I think of them."
For what it's worth, there's no doubt what the British public thinks of Jodie Comer. Just listen to that cheer.