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I'm glad I kept my clothes on for Ripper Street, admits Charlene

From mouthy prostitutes to a strung-out party girls, Charlene McKenna is used to risky roles.

But while the Monaghan actress says her characters regularly get up to all sorts, she's more reserved in real life and would be reluctant to get her kit off for a TV or film role.

The petite 27-year-old says the older she gets, the less likely she is to strip off for the cameras.

"As I get older – and I don't mean physically older, I mean mentally older – I really start to think, 'Is this necessary? Totally necessary?'," she said.

The young actress says she considers it quite a feat to make it through series one of Ripper Street with her modesty intact.



"I actually think it's quite amazing," she says. "I mean, I've played pretty wild characters and I did all of Ripper Street playing a prostitute and managed to keep my clothes on. You didn't see anything and that was a conscious decision by the production team."

While other ingenues think nothing of baring all for TV roles, Charlene says it would take a lot of sweet talking and convincing before she disrobed.

"I'm not afraid of it; if it is needed, it's needed," she says. "But I need to be sold on the idea and believe it's critical for the scene.

"I'm not fundamentally opposed to it, but I definitely wouldn't be rushing to do it. I just need to be told why it's so important for me to take my clothes off," she says.

Charlene is currently flitting between London and Dublin and later this year will appear as a pill-popping party girl in the re-vamped Channel 4 series Skins.

"It was a landmark series, so it's great to be part of it," she says. "I play this debauched party girl who is best friends with Cassie.

"I was never that big a party girl myself, which is ironic given that I always play these women. I'm that person who is always worrying about the hangover the next day," she laughs.

Charlene is currently shooting Ripper Street in Clancy Barracks and says that, while she is reluctant to go au natural on screen, wearing a corset isn't ideal either.

"It is so painful wearing the corsets every day," she said. "When I take it off, I have red marks all down my back.

"And my corset is loose because I'm not overly, em... ample," she laughs. "But there are definitely woozy moments.

"But my cast mate Myanna Buring, who plays Long Susan, has much more upfront and she has difficulty catching her breath," she adds.

– kbk