Katherine Kelly is the star of some of the UK's biggest dramas. She talks career choices, post-lockdown living and being real with Georgia Humphreys.

Katherine Kelly is recalling the moment she realised she was working too much.

It was before the much sought-after actress - star of Liar II, Cheat and Mr Selfridge - had started a family.

Filming a scene where her character had to order at a bar, it dawned on her she had no idea what people would drink in real life anymore.

"It had been so long since I'd really truly gone to a pub - and not some sort of red carpet where you're handed a bottle of champagne," says the Barnsley native, 41. "I was like, 'Do people drink lager and black anymore? Is that a thing?'

"And it really bothered me, because I thought, 'How can you represent real life if you're not in real life?'

"I felt that going from job to job was actually diluting what I was doing, and then I wasn't bringing as much richness to the characters that I play."

Now Kelly - who shares two daughters with IT consultant Ryan Clark (they split last year, as confirmed by a spokesperson for the pair) - reflects on how she makes a conscious decision to be picky with what she stars in.

"I've always been of the attitude that I would rather be a smaller part in something good than the lead in something crap. I don't have that ego."

She continues, candidly: "For me, it's quality, not quantity - and I'm very all or nothing.

"I'm not very good at spinning lots and lots of plates. I've realised that about myself as I get older, and I've turned down jobs when I feel like I've got a bit too much on - especially when theatres were around."

Her latest role is the second series of ITV psychological thriller, Innocent, written by Chris Lang and Matt Arlidge.

The first series, which starred Lee Ingleby, Hermione Norris and Dan Ryan, was a ratings success.

In this four-parter, Kelly plays Sally Wright, a schoolteacher who was alleged to be having an affair with her 16-year-old pupil, Matty Taylor.

After Matty was found brutally stabbed with a broken cider bottle, Sally was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in jail, despite having no criminal record and no history of violence.

The four-part series follows Sally as she is released from prison and fights, against all odds, to prove her innocence. It also stars the likes of Marcella's Jamie Bamber, as her husband Sam, and It's A Sin actor Shaun Dooley - who also hails from Barnsley - as DCI Mike Braithwaite, who has been given the task of reinvestigating Matty's murder.

"Sally wants her life back," explains Kelly. "She wants to be back in the town where she was and integrated back into society.

"I enjoyed reading her quiet journey of that. I felt like I hadn't really seen that on-screen very much."

In preparation for the role, did she speak with people who had been through similar situations?

"I couldn't in the end, because of lockdown. But I had worked with Clean Break, a theatre company who work with people who have been in prison. I was really moved by that and the people I met."

She had to do her research in a more remote way instead.

"YouTube's a fantastic source of real people just chatting, that's not filtered or edited. I read a couple of fantastic books. I wanted to read some really current prison diaries.

"There are some fantastic documentaries; Louis Theroux, he talked to Amy Beck [who turned herself into police in 2010 for having a sexual relationship with her former student], so I did a bit of research on her. But I think the most helpful thing for me was a series that's still available on Channel 4, called Prison."

The show was filmed during lockdown, and you could argue that isolating during shooting gives a bit of an insight into what it would have been like for Sally.

"We live in a free country, and some of our freedoms have been taken away. It certainly felt very strange to me to not, in theory, be allowed to go somewhere and do some things," she muses.

Discussing her character's experience further, she notes: "When she comes out of prison, you'll see it's very cinematic. Sally stops the car, because she can, and she winds down the window, because she can, and then she puts her feet in the lake, because she can.

"Everything would have been decided for her, and that's very extreme. And, because she was rumoured to be a sex offender, she would have then probably been isolated for her own safety - she wouldn't have even had what can be a prison community.

"With the last 12 months, we can all probably relate to that loss of freedom. And hopefully, you do watch her come back to life; hopefully, she looks very pale and drawn at the beginning and then you see her slowly, slowly get her energy and her life back - and maybe that's what will happen to us."

Kelly says she can't wait for theatres to be open again soon, what with lockdown restrictions easing, because "I don't just like the different characters, I like the different mediums as well".

But any Coronation Street fans hoping she might one day reprise the role of 'ladette' Becky McDonald - who she played from 2006 to 2012 - should prepare to be disappointed.

"That character was very much of her time, and I think, in all honesty, she would be a bitter disappointment to revisit," she admits.

"I would hate for her to be spoiled in any way, because it was such a perfect character, at a perfect time. Becky's better left with a fondness."

Innocent airs on STV over four consecutive nights, from tomorrow at 9pm.