Adelayo Adedayo On The Responder, Some Girls And The Traitors Legend Who Left Her Starstruck

The London-born actor stars opposite Martin Freeman in The Responder series 2

Adelayo Adedayo

by Isobel Lewis |
Published on

Throughout her career, Adelayo Adedayo has known a thing or two about big laughs and big drama. The London-born actor, 35, found her first on-screen roles in police drama The Bill and thriller film Sket, yet it was teen comedy Some Girls that introduced her to a generation in 2012.

‘I go between the two,’ Adelayo says. ‘Sometimes I'm like, “No, drama's my thing. I love drama, this is what I want to do.” But then I'll watch a comedy show and there's nothing like that buzz of the moment between the joke and when people get the joke. It feels so electric and alive.’ She laughs. ‘So I'm gonna say both. That's the most boring answer.’

Right now, however, Adelayo’s rooted in the drama realm. This summer, she’s starring in Supacell, a Netflix series about five Black British strangers from London who all gain superpowers. Before that, however, there’s the return of The Responder. The critically acclaimed drama sees Adelayo and Martin Freeman play urgent response officers on the streets of Liverpool. Both actors gained praise for their authentic Scouse accents and BAFTA nominations when the show dropped in 2022.

Adelayo AdedayoO
On the red carpet at the 2023 BAFTAs ©Getty Images

Attending the BAFTAs last year was a huge deal for Adelayo, 35. Not only was it her first nomination, but her first time attending at all. ‘I still can't believe I was nominated. I just don't think I really thought about the success of the show or what was gonna come after it, so it was just amazing. My mum came with me and I just remember thinking this is bonkers. Just amazing,’ she says, joking, ‘I need to read a thesaurus because I keep saying just amazing.’

Written by Tony Schumacher, a former police officer in Liverpool himself, The Responder deals with some pretty intense subject matter. Adelayo stars as Rachel, an idealistic younger officer with a bit of a ‘judgemental streak’. In the first series, Rachel is in an abusive relationship; after leaving her partner Steve (played by Boiling Point director Phillip Barantini) at the end of series one, the new series sees her suffering from PTSD in the aftermath and ‘internalising’ all kinds of negative feelings: shame, guilt, pain. ‘She hasn't done any healing whatsoever. I don't think she has said Steve's name since she walked away from him,’ Adelayo said.

Martin Freeman and Adelayo Adedayo as police officers in The Responder
Adelayo Adedayo with Martin Freeman in The Responder ©BBC

In the run-up to series two, Adelayo and some fellow cast and crew members – including Big Boys star Izuka Hoyle, who plays Steve’s new girlfriend Lorna – spent time with the female team who run Liverpool’s domestic abuse service. It was an eye-opening experience, Adelayo says, ‘learning how many emotions, how many feelings somebody in that situation is feeling all at once. It's terrifying to have all of that in your body and in your mind all at once.’

The intensity of The Responder couldn’t be further away from the show that first introduced Adelayo to a generation. From 2012 to 2014, she starred in Some Girls, a BBC Three comedy about a group of 16-year-old girls who all live on the same housing estate in London. At the time, the show was praised for showing a funny side to teenage girls rarely seen on screen.

Adelayo was in her early 20s when she shot the show, but loved ‘being on set, making jokes with girls that became my friends’. ‘It makes me smile when I think about it,’ she says. ‘It felt quite formative for me, as well, in terms of my career. That time meant a lot to me.’ Even now, she gets recognised by fans of the show. ‘I get people saying to me, “Oh, I was watching it when I was nine years old,”’ she laughs. ‘It’s really, really lovely, because it was also one of my favourite times in my life. I had the most fun.’

A decade later, Adelayo’s career is proving to be just as exciting. After her first Bafta nomination in 2023, she returned in May to present that same award with her co-star Martin, who she says she shares a ‘pattern of banter’ with. But it was Claudia Winkleman, actually, who left her starstruck.

‘I'm a Traitors fan,’ Adelayo admits. ‘She came over and she was just really nice. I was just looking at her like… but you're Claudia Winkleman. When people are in your living room for so many years, and then they’re there, you're just like, oh my gosh. And she's also just cool.’ A nice reminder: no matter how famous you are, nobody can resist the charm of Winkleman.

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