“I am always hungry all the time anyway but I had weird cravings for turkey sandwiches when I was pregnant,” she laughs. “Do you remember the heatwave last year? Well, all I wanted to eat was turkey and cranberry with stuffing – basically like a Christmas sandwich. It was odd but it was what I needed.” Jessica, and her husband of three years, Tom Goodman-Hill, are yet to reveal the name of their son, preferring to keep it private, but Jessica’s pride in him is obvious.
“It’s been fantastic and it’s joyous and it’s all the feelings all at once. I can’t describe it in any other way,” she says.
“It definitely changes you and it puts lots of things in perspective. I am taking things at a slower pace and I don’t give myself a hard time if I don’t get out. But all in all, it is incredible.
She first met Tom – star of Mr Selfridge – in 2010 when they appeared together in Earthquakes at the National Theatre, in which he played a troubled husband going through a midlife crisis as his marriage falls apart.
She was the young seductress trying to lure him away from his wife, in what some saw as a case of life imitating art. Months later, Tom, 44, suddenly left the mother of his two children before embarking on a relationship and later setting up home with Jessica.
He had reportedly already sent out invitations for a surprise 40th birthday party for his wife, Kerry Bradley, when he dramatically cancelled everything and announced their 20-year relationship was over.
The pair moved in together in 2013 and married in 2015. She fell pregnant in 2018 but only announced it in January and gave birth the following month.
Call The Midwife, in which Jessica, 37, appeared as popular nurse Jenny Lee until 2014, has been an incredible breeding ground for young actors.
Others who have found fame in the show include Helen George, Bryony Hannah and Laura Main among others.
But in barbed comments, the show’s writer and executive producer Heidi Thomas recently admitted she would happily axe actors who use her show as a launch pad to Hollywood.
Heidi, 65, said recently: “Writers don’t have control over whether people stay or not. And when young ladies come on the show and then three years later they decide it’s time to go to Hollywood every time, it’s like a stab through the heart.
“I now know the signs and when I see those signs I think, ‘Oh Hollywood beckons’, and I start to move them to one side. I have become quite ruthless about it.”
Jessica, who left the BBC drama in 2014, before featuring in the Daniel Radcliffe movie, Woman In Black, tells me that she and Heidi are no longer communicating.
She said: “I don’t think Midwife will ever need me back but it has been a great springboard. It’s been a long time since Call The Midwife and I am not in touch with Heidi.
“I am still friends with all the girls and Bryony (who plays Cynthia Miller) lives really close to me and has kids too.”
Jessica’s career has gone from strength to strength since leaving Midwife, after her character Jenny resigned to take a job in a hospice.
One of her first major roles was in Jed Mercurio’s BBC police drama Line Of Duty.
But on joining AC-12, the fictional police department, in series two as the highly ambitious Detective Constable Georgia Trotman, she was on screen for only 45 minutes.
Having raced to hospital with her partner, Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), to protect a seriously-injured witness, the pair found him being murdered by an assassin disguised as a nurse.
The plot saw Georgia witness the assassination before being unceremoniously thrown out of the fifth-floor window to her death.
Jessica went on to appear in Fortitude in 2015 followed by a role in the BBC’s The Last Post as Alison Lathwaite, the alcoholic and rather brazen wife of a British army officer.
At the time, she admitted it was the “favourite character I’ve played so far, ever. It’s a big change from lovely, quiet Jenny in Call The Midwife!”
Earlier this year, she was back on our screens in BBC One’s The Missing spin-off, Baptiste, created by brothers Harry and Jack Williams, but admitted to “neglecting” to tell bosses she was pregnant when she took on the role of Genevieve.
While she would be open to starring in a second series of Baptiste, she says: “I’m still waiting to hear about a follow-up to Baptiste but I hope that it happens.
“I would love to work with the Williams brothers again, who wrote and produced it. I also fell in love with Antwerp. It is so amazing, the food, the fashion and the art galleries.”
In the flesh, Jessica looks demure in her black-and-white print skirt teamed with a fitted black top that shows off her toned arms.
Now she has become a mum, she is growing out her recent radical hairstyle. “When I was in Baptiste, I decided to shave the side of my head,” she says.
“It was my idea actually. Genevieve was quite a ballsy hard character – she was really into her hardcore music – so I thought my look should reflect that.
“However, it’s not very soft and mum-like but I thought it was quite cool going into NCT (National Childcare Trust) classes with my shaved head. If I needed to do it again, then I would!”
Jessica was with husband Tom at the RHS Royal Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival last week where she revealed he is about to play Frank Crawley in a lavish new Netflix movie version of Daphne du Maurier’s darkly-iconic novel, Rebecca.
Jessica added: “It is an incredible book, so I am going to join him in Devon this summer. We will all be together as a family.”
As for her next project, she hasn’t ruled out foreign location work just because she now has a baby.
“I will be really interested to see how it affects my job,” she admits. “I’m waiting for the thing that is worth doing to go away on a set somewhere.
“I had to go abroad to Antwerp and Amsterdam to film Baptiste and The Last Post was in South Africa and the desert but there are incredible services around now for actresses with babies and it really helps working mums to take their babies on set.
“I also think the industry is much more amenable than maybe even five years ago to bringing your baby on set. There have been really positive changes and it’s just about whether you feel that you can do it or not.”
Having appeared in other shows such as Doctor Who and BBC period drama Wolf Hall, Jessica would like to star in a comedy next. “I loved the BBC drama Ghosts with (Call The Midwife star) Charlotte Ritchie in it. I’m really pleased for her and it is such a giggle.
“It’s great that it’s been green lit for a second series. I would love to do something like that but for now being a mum is keeping me busy enough.”
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