Rosie Marcel On The End Of Holby City And Country Life In Tring

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Actor Rosie Marcel talks to Natalie Li about saving animals, adapting to a new home in Tring and finding peace.

From Hospital Drama to Country Charms

Rosie Marcel is enjoying a wholesome existence in the Hertfordshire countryside, and she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. Unfortunately, her busy weekend activities have resulted in an injury. “I was in hospital on Saturday, I had my thumbnail removed working with my chickens and goats,” she laughs. “That’s my lifestyle now!”

As we chat, it’s clear that she is totally immersed in her new life – a world away from starring in the popular medical drama Holby City, which was axed by the BBC and finished in March 2022. 

A Heart for Animals and Rescue Efforts

“My dream is to be Brigitte Bardot and have enough money to create a rescue centre. I love animals, but if I brought more home, I think my husband would probably divorce me!” smiles Rosie, who is a patron for animal rescue charity Last Chance Hotel and an ambassador for The Pack Project.

Rosie Marcel by Harry Livingstone
Photo by Harry Livingstone

“I have no boundaries when it comes to animals; if there is something in the road, I will stop. I think I am an empath, almost to my own detriment. I find it hard to say no when an animal is in need.” 

The Transition from Screen to Green

After 16 years of portraying the ambitious consultant cardiothoracic surgeon Jac Naylor, Rosie has been at the centre of some of the soap’s storylines. Her role earned her a nomination under the soap category at the TRIC Awards 2023, hosted by the Television and Radio Industries Club, which celebrates talent on the screen and airwaves.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s been difficult since Holby ended,” she admits. “I’ve been acting for 42 years and earning money. I had a massive identity crisis after I stopped playing Jac. 

“I went from a very good wage and being a lead on a TV show, an immensely popular character, to nothing. I found it difficult not to earn my own money and contribute. It has taken me until quite recently to be OK with what I do now.”

A New Chapter in Tring

The 45-year-old mum to daughter Beau, eight, has her hands full as she embarks on renovating her 1930s farmhouse. Rosie and husband Ben swapped the urban sprawl of St Albans for a scenic setting complete with 14 acres of land. 

“When we bought this house, I had a great job. Ben was running a successful CrossFit gym in St Albans, and in the space of two months of moving here in May 2020, our lives completely changed. Holby was axed and a month later, Ben’s gym burnt down. 

“We’ve since sold the 11-acre field across the road from the house and used the proceeds to do up the house – we’ve just got planning permission. It’s been a real labour of love as we’ve not had the money to make it what we envisaged it would be.” The plans for the home are ambitious – a big wraparound extension,” explains Rosie. “Ben is super handy, and he can do plumbing, plastering, and electrics.”

Life After Holby City: A Day in the Life of Rosie Marcel

Life on the set of a TV drama is a world away from Rosie’s new lifestyle, but she has no regrets. “I’m glad the show finished in many ways because I am the best mum I can possibly be. I returned to work six months after having Beau, and I was lucky if I saw her once a week. I did the best I could at the weekends. It’s tough being a full-time actor on a show that doesn’t stop. I don’t think I became a mother until I left the show. Now Beau sees me every day. It’s far more rewarding than acting. I love my life, and it really suits me.”

A typical day for Rosie starts with school drop-off, walking her four dogs, looking after the cats, feeding her growing flock of rescued chickens, ducks, and bees, and looking after the orchard. “I am covered in s**t most days, excuse my language,” she giggles.

She shows me the view from where she is sitting. Lush green countryside beckons. “We have a pear and apple orchard, but, my god, picking the apples drives me insane! It takes forever.

“During our second year at the house, we picked everything, found a local press, made our own labels, and sold apple juice at a few coffee places in Tring, like the Espresso Lounge. Learning how to pollard a tree or discover whether a chicken is egg-bound is amazing new stuff to me,” she enthuses.

A Passion for Animals and Nature Over Fame

As a child, Rosie dreamed of becoming a vet or a marine biologist. A career in acting began with her first job at age three, followed by a role in the children’s comedy-drama Pressgang. “I was acting as a young child and barely at school – I wasn’t academic,” admits Rosie. “I would’ve liked to pursue a career in animal husbandry or animal care – that would have been up my street.”

Rosie later became a model, a cartoonist for Warner Bros, and trained as a stuntwoman, swiftly abandoned when she discovered she had hemophilia.

Health issues have been a recurring theme in Rosie’s life. She developed Behçet’s disease, an inflammatory condition, which left her bed bound, and struggled with her mental health. Difficulties with getting pregnant and dealing with a miscarriage also took their toll. 

Photo by Sophia Veres, clothes from Love Alice
Photo by Sophia Veres, clothes from Love Alice

“When I had a miscarriage, it was at a time when my character Jac was having a baby, and I had just lost one, so that was weird. We went to an IVF clinic, and just before we were about to start the process, I discovered I was pregnant.”

Ice baths combined with walks in the nearby countryside have been a saviour. “I am now off immunosuppressants, so I swapped it for 12-minute weekly ice baths – three minutes at a time,” she says. “It’s been amazing. It has helped with my mental health, and I think it is important to talk about that stuff especially being in the public eye – a year and a half after Jac dying was like losing a friend. The transition has been crazy.

“I love taking the dogs for a walk,” she adds. “The Chiltern Way is very close, and my sister lives nearby. We also love trips to Hardings Wood and Ashridge House. We go to Berkhamsted a lot – we’re a fan of the restaurant Plates and local pubs like the Greyhound.”

Will Rosie Marcel Return to Acting?

I wonder if she’ll make a return to our screens. “Acting is not for me at the moment,” she says. “I’m certainly not retired. Panto could be fun! I reckon I’d make a brilliant, wicked queen in Snow White,” she giggles.

“Acting is what I like doing, I am pretty good at it. But it’s not my life. I am very accepting and sanguine about that.”

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