TV3 'Red Rock' star is the daughter of a Marquess
Pandora McCormick is the real life daughter of a wealthy blue blood aristocrat, writes Niamh Horan
She is the hottest actress in one of Ireland's biggest soaps, playing the feisty solicitor Claire Hennessy on TV3's Red Rock.
But rising star Pandora McCormick has a real life aristocratic background that would give the characters of Downton Abbey a run for their money.
The up-and-coming actress, who weds Dublin actor Killian Burke this summer, is actually the daughter of a blue blood aristocrat, one of Britain's wealthiest men.
Her father, Constantine Phipps, 5th Marquess of Normanby, is seated in one of England's oldest castles - where Pandora will wed in June.
The family has an estimated worth of around €200m, and their home is the 18th century Mulgrave Castle in Yorkshire.
When contacted by the Sunday Independent this weekend, Pandora said: "I like to keep my family stuff private. I would prefer if people didn't know." Asked the reason, she said: "I guess I like people to take me at face value." She explained: "I think you only get ahead with hard work and honesty. It's the only way I want to be valued and I want to get by on merit."
In 2003 supermodel Elle Macpherson is rumoured to have taken out a lease at the 15,000 acre estate, considered one of the finest in England, including the right to live in the family's ancestral home during the four-month shooting season.
Asked her ultimate goal, following the success of Red Rock, the TV beauty said that she wanted to continue to get ahead through hard graft.
"I've had hard times as an actor, as lots of my friends have had, doing two or three different jobs in order to do an unpaid fringe show. But I want to do it all - theatre, film, more TV."
Pandora's father was born in Yorkshire and succeeded his father to become Marquess of Normanby. He is married to writer Nicola Shulman, whose sister Alexandra is the editor of British Vogue. The sisters' father is theatre critic Milton Shulman.
Phipps has three children with Nicola. Pandora is his daughter from a previous relationship with Sophie McCormick.
Meanwhile, Pandora's Red Rock character is at the centre of a plot that has gripped the nation this week. Soap fans were left reeling after seeing her on-screen husband, Supt James McKay (played by actor Richard Flood), being stabbed to death in the show's biggest storyline yet.
"The reaction has been awesome. So brilliant," she says. "I was in Mayo for New Year's with my fiancé and his family in an absolutely beautiful place but it has no TV and very little reception so I was glued to my phone as some lovely messages came through about it."
They announced their engagement in the Daily Telegraph in December 2014. It read: "The engagement is announced between Killian, son of Patrick and Sinead Burke, of Dublin, and Pandora, daughter of Sophie McCormick, of Dublin, and the Marquess of Normanby."
Pandora is in LA now. "I'm just feeling the waters. I just thought that, while I'm over there I might as well, but I love my job and I love working in Ireland." Pandora says the entire cast were emotional wrecks after shooting the murder scene.
"I spent the whole day crying because you have to stay in what you're doing," she said.
"But Claire has some really tough stuff coming up. How will she survive without the love her life and as a single mother? She gets very angry and blames the guards so it's worth tuning in for." Red Rock airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8.30pm on TV3