ANTONIA Thomas is crying when we meet.

Not a good start. The rising star has spent the morning filming the final scene of new comedy-drama Scrotal Recall at Mother India in Finnieston (the restaurant also supplied our "ridiculously delicious" lunch). But Thomas finds goodbyes emotional, and has just bid farewell to co-stars, musician Johnny Flynn and Daniel Ings.

"I'm such a baby when I finish a job," says the 27-year-old Londoner, her eyes still glistening with tears. "It has been wonderful but I'm so sad to leave. Glasgow is such a cool city and has a wicked soul to it. Culturally it's such an exciting place to be."

In 2009, Thomas began work on E4's ground-breaking drama Misfits on the day she left drama school. Cast as Alisha, whose superpower caused anyone she touched to be overcome with lust, Thomas left the show three series and one Bafta later, to showcase her versatility as a jazz singer in Sky Atlantic's Bond creator biopic Fleming and grieving army widow in ITV's Homefront. She was last here singing and dancing as nurse Yvonne in Sunshine on Leith, opposite George MacKay, Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks.

"We had brilliant fun," recalls Thomas. "The main thing was that we wanted the Scots to love it, and they received it really well. The Proclaimers are like the Beatles up here!"

Her eyes light up when the conversation turns to her latest film, Northern Soul, which delves into an altogether different musical phenomenon. Ten years in the making, writer-director Elaine Constantine's debut tells the story of two young men in the industrial northwest of England, seduced by the soul sounds imported from America and the all-night dance clubs springing up in the region.

The film, also starring Steve Coogan, is every bit as fuelled by passion as the scene it documents.

"This is Elaine's love letter to the scene. She lived and breathed it," says Thomas. "I knew some of the music, but nothing about its history."

While punk has been endlessly documented and dissected and mods charted in countless films, Northern Soul emerged far from the flashbulbs of London's fashion photographers and is the great, unsung British subculture.

"It was huge," says Thomas. "What is great is the number of closet Northern Soul fans that you meet, who tell you how they used to go to all-nighters. The passion for it is amazing. This story needs to be told."

The male leads, Elliot James Langridge and Josh Whitehouse were cast well before production began, giving them time to perfect their dance moves. And Thomas, who plays Angela - a nurse, club scene ace face and love interest to Elliot's character?

"I was cast late," she grins, "so the boys learnt the moves for two years and I had three weeks! It was such fun to learn the moves. I'm a massive fan now."

At heart, Northern Soul is a coming of age story. But it also highlights the difficulties that went with being a young, mixed race woman in 1970s Lancashire.

"It was a tough time," says Thomas, who cites Lou Pride's I'm Coming Home in the Morning and Frankie Valli's The Night as her choice cuts from the scene.

"For Angela and so many others, this black American music and the northern soul scene was a safe haven where you could go and lose yourself at the weekend and feel part of something."

In Scrotal Recall, Thomas plays the best friend of sensitive romantic Dylan (Flynn), who is on a journey to tell his former partners that he has a sexually transmitted infection.

"It sounds as though it will be bawdy or crass, but it has so much heart," says Thomas. "It shows a time in people's lives that lots of viewers will relate to - coming out of university and not knowing what to do. It is so hard to get a job. People live like students much longer, you get to your 30s and are thinking, 'When I was 15 I thought I would have a house by now.'"

It is a scenario Thomas can relate to, though insists she is one of the lucky ones.

"I was in one of the last years at drama school when I didn't have to pay something like nine grand - which is absolutely un-be-lievable," she says. "I don't know how people do it."

While she agrees that British television is now challenging American imports in terms of quality, Thomas fears the high cost of training for actors will have a negative impact on an industry struggling to reflect modern Britain. She has taken an active role in the Act For Change move-ment, which is challenging the industry to diversify.

"We need to get more women and more ethnic minorities working in television. It is so important," says Thomas, who is heading to the US ahead of the January pilot season. "The casting of Scrotal Recall has been brilliant in terms of representing Britain, but you don't often get that.

"There is so much that has to change. But with Lenny Henry talking to Ed Vaizey and Stephen Fry getting involved, it feels like Act For Change is gaining momentum. It is exciting…"

Northern Soul opens at cinemas on October 17; Scrotal Recall continues on Channel 4 tonight