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Amanda Redman on ‘scars that made me who I am today’ after childhood burns

Amanda Redman and husband brand designer Damian Schnabel (Image: www.jurgendoom.be/ PA)

The horrifying tale ­echoes the actress’s own childhood ordeal. Aged just 18 months, Amanda pulled a boiling saucepan of turkey and ­vegetable soup off the stove and on to her body. She subsequently spent 90 percent of her life until the age of five undergoing treatment in a series of hospitals.

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To this day, Amanda bears the scars on her left arm.

“But I simply don’t see them,” she insists. “They’re an integral part of me. It wouldn’t even cross my mind to wear a long‑sleeved dress.”

To help Dan Sefton, the creator and writer of the ­hospital drama set in southern India, handle the story sensitively, Amanda, 62, took him to Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, world-famous for its pioneering work with burns and plastic surgery.

It was also somewhere she herself spent many painful days and nights as a child.

Good Karma Hospital (Image: Tiger Aspect)

“I can’t remember the pain ­following the accident itself – I was too young – but the fictional story certainly brought back memories of operations I went through. And that was quite traumatic.”

Immediately after the on-screen attack, we watch as Amanda and a senior nurse use a hand shower in an attempt to wash as much of the acid off the victim’s skin as possible.

“It was incredibly realistic,” reveals Amanda.

“So good were the special effects that pieces of fake scalp and hair were falling from the girl’s body as I was hosing her down. I must admit I found that quite upsetting.”

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Amanda Redman dated a number of younger men (Image: Ken McKay/ITV Shutterstock)

All of which begs the question as to whether this is a suitable scenario now that Good Karma has moved from its 9pm post-watershed slot to the more family-friendly 8pm berth.

Amanda says she can’t deny she questions the thinking behind moving the show forward an hour. 

“There had to be some editing of the acid storyline. And yes, I found that a bit disappointing.”

Lucy Beresford, the executive producer at Tiger Aspect who make the show for ITV, mounts a stout defence.

“We’ve had to do a little light tweaking,” she concedes.

“But it will work well at 8pm, much in the same way as Call The Midwife does on the BBC in the same time slot.”

ITV also made the curious decision to “rest” Good Karma for a year so, although the third series was filmed 18 months ago, only now is it about to see the light of day.

In the meantime, in its infinite wisdom, they then dreamed up a replacement show, Beecham House, also set on the Indian sub-continent.

Despite a memorable plot, large budget and starry cast, it was a thumping flop, delivering the channel’s smallest 9pm Sunday drama premiere audience since 2015.

Amanda’s turning a noticeably brighter shade of red.

Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) and Stephanie Parr (Emily Glenister) (Image: BBC/Wall To Wall)

“I’m not saying anything,” she says, and mimes drawing a zip across her mouth with thumb and forefinger.

What she will talk about is the “very good, very loyal fan base” over the past year, constantly asking when Good Karma, which also stars Neil Morrissey and Amrita Acharia, was returning.

“I’ve just come back from a holiday in the Philippines. At Manila Airport, a woman spotted me and called across, ‘Best series by far’,” she laughs.

“It’s already been shown all over the world – Australia, the US, Scandinavia – everywhere, in fact, except the UK.”

Amanda is a good-­looking woman with strong opinions.

Unsur­prisingly, she’s a vocal advocate of the #MeToo movement.

“When I was young, you had to beat the men off with a stick.

“I was routinely groped but I always gave back as good as I got. I was only in my 20s, though, so it was quite scary. And, when they didn’t get what they wanted, they would humiliate you in front of other people.

Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) and Stephanie Parr (Emily Glenister) (Image: BBC/Wall To Wall)

“We were all pretty resigned to the fact that this sort of behaviour came with the territory.

“But there are limits. One very well-known director – I won’t name him – tried it on with someone else and, when I stood up for her, he rang my agent and said, ‘I’m afraid Amanda is too rich for our blood.’

“And I remember once being pressed up against the wall by a director who had insisted that the actresses shouldn’t wear any underwear.

“I only had on a kimono. He reached inside it. So I kneed him in the balls and pushed him away.”

But she also sounds a note of caution.

Amanda Redman (Image: Ken McKay/ITV Shutterstock)

“We do now have to be careful that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far in the opposite direction.

“I like it if a man holds a door open for me. I like mild flirting. But we all know the difference between that and ­wandering hands.”

After her marriage to Soldier, Soldier actor Robert Glenister failed at the beginning of the ’90s, Amanda dated some younger men.

In time, these included brand designer Damian Schnabel, 14 years her junior.

There was a blip along the way but the two married in 2010.

Does he make her feel younger or older?

“We’ve been together such a long time that the age difference has become completely irrelevant. We don’t see it anymore and nor do our friends and family,” she says.

“Damian is highly organised, highly competent and so much more grown up than me. He’s the adult and I’m the child. I’m ­impulsive, he’s sensible. He tells me off constantly.

“I’ll sneak off into the kitchen, as quiet as can be, and then suddenly I’ll hear from the other room, ‘No, Mandy, not a piece of bread smothered in Dairylea because that’ll spoil your supper.’ And I take it from him!”

Apart from her acting work, she runs her own Artists Drama School founded in 1998 near her home in Ealing, west London.

Amanda is a good-­looking woman with strong opinions (Image: Rex)

Once a year, she directs a graduate show at the local Questers Theatre as a showcase for casting agents.

In July, there will be a production of Confessions by Alan Ayckbourn.

She gets all the help she needs from Damian.

“He’ll take the week off work and ­perform the unpaid role of stage manager. And he cooks for the cast. I love him for that,” she says.

“I had lunch with Sheila Hancock the other day. Damien’s parents went to see her in Sister Act and Sheila apparently told them that Damien was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Amanda Redman stars in The Good Karma Hospital (Image: Getty)

“So I recounted this back to her and she said, ‘Well, it’s true. He’s the making of you, darling.’ And she’s right. I have finally found the right guy.”

Daughter Emily from her first marriage is now 32 and recently engaged. So would Amanda like to be a granny?

“Can’t wait,” she smiles, adding: “I don’t want to tempt Fate but it does feel like I’ve got all my ducks in a row right now.”

The Good Karma Hospital returns to ITV at 8pm on Sunday March 22

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