Katherine Hicks plays a ukulele-playing lesbian in new BBC soap Out Of The Blue, set in Manly, Sydney. So, can she play? How far does she go? And “didn’t we see you on Heartbreak High?”

It’s the second week of winter and Katherine Hicks is hanging out on the beach. “You have to dress like it’s summer all the time, but we both know it’s not.” Hicks is one of the stars of the new BBC drama Out Of The Blue. Set in Manly, the UK show while be on Australian TV in August. “It’s going really well. I’m having a lot of fun and we’ve got a great cast and crew, everyone gets along really well… Have you started asking me questions?”, asks the effervescent actress. “I’ll try not to swear.”

Out Of The Blue hasn’t started airing here yet, but it has on BBC. Can you tell me the storyline? The premise of the show is a group of 30- year-olds who’ve come back to Manly after a nine year absence. The last time they were all together was for one of our friend’s Gabby’s 21st birthday where one friends fell off a ferry and drowned and the body was never found. That tore the group apart and everyone went their separate ways. But we come back together for a school reunion and on the night of the reunion one of our friends is murdered. As the show unfolds it solves the murder mystery and watches how these friends deal with that loss.

What about your character, Poppy Hammond, what’s she like? Poppy is described as the ray of sunshine in the group of friends. The best way I can put it is she has very little self-apology. She puts her foot in her mouth a lot. She thinks she is an amazing musician, yet she’s actually terrible. So I introduced the ukulele for her to write really bad songs. She’s also in a lesbian relationship. When she returns [to Manly] her partner comes back to live with her. She’s the most left-of-centre character.

I read somewhere she’s a bit like Phoebe from Friends. I think the writers and producers wanted to create that kind of character. They liked that spaced-out, comic, blonde element. She could easily be compared to Phoebe.

Any “Smelly Cat”? Haha. No, it hasn’t quite gone there, but a few bad songs thus far.

So your character adds some light to a pretty dark premise. I definitely come in occasionally to add some relief. There’s a couple of comic characters in the show; Stavvo, Addo and Poppy and they have the more comic storylines.

Poppy is a lesbian. Any awkward moments as an actor? Because the show is G rating they don’t let us have any physical intimacy. Some of the heterosexual couples do have a pash and make out. But we are barely allowed to hold hands, so there hasn’t been an issue with any physical intimacy or awkwardness. I guess you’re saying “I love you” to another girl so you do have to act a bit. I think it’s fine. Women usually have emotional intimacy with each other anyway, so it’s just like it’s your best friend. It’s funny though, we’ve been told to tone down our the intimacy when we’ve been holding hands or kissing on the cheek like you would if you were a couple. I find that strange in this day and age. I guess it’s the time slot.

Home and Away is filmed on Sydney’s north shore. Has a turf war started yet? I don’t think actors are that territorial. I think when the producers wanted to first create this show they did want to make it quite different. The thing that’s similar is the structure – you’ve got five episodes a week. However by making it about a group of 30-year-olds it’s a bit more adult in what it explores as opposed to being centred around teenagers. I think Home and Away is an amazing export for Australia.

You were on Heartbreak High too. How did that help you getting other roles? Yeah, many moons ago. At that point I just decided to take acting more seriously. When I worked on Heartbreak High the ABC had a great system where they gave the young actors a lot of acting, voice and movement tuition. That opened my eyes up to acting at a professional level. I’ve been on a lot of sets since, but I think with this role you remember how quickly you have to work for television. We shoot maybe 17-20 scenes a day. It’s a really quick turn around.

How did Out Of The Blue came about in the UK? As far as I know, [producers] Southern Star wanted to create a serial drama and pitch it internationally. The BBC showed a lot of interest because they had just stopped showing Neighbours. So they commissioned 130 episodes which is about six months of five episodes a week. And now Channel Ten has bought the show here.

Do you get paid in pounds by the Beeb? Haha, I wish I got paid in pounds.

Out Of The Blue begins on Channel Ten mid-August.