Meet Virgin Trains East Coast's screen queen

Annie Burkin is a Regional Support Assistant at Virgin Trains East Coast in her day job, but it’s her interest in drama that led to her starring in an award-winning film. She explains more…

How did Blood and Carpet happen? I remember the night very clearly. I was at my regular drama workshop class and we were instructed to get into threes and improvise a scene where two people were worried about something and the third person wasn’t. My group came up with the idea that we had a dead body in the house and were trying to scrub the carpet clear of blood. We finished, we got a round of applause – and our drama teacher, Graham Fletcher-Cook, said it would make a great opening to a film!

A few months later, Graham had written the script and Blood and Carpet began shooting. I was so excited to be involved, for many reasons. It was my first lead role, and it was set in the 1960s, which meant we could have so much fun with the hair, costume and accents. Blood and Carpet is a thriller and centres around a dead body inside the house of Ruby and Lyle – but in the 1960s, with no DNA evidence or CCTV, can they literally get away with murder?

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Since completion, we have had successful cinema and TV screenings in the UK and worldwide, picking up ‘Best International Feature’ at the Rendezvous Film Festival in Miami and ‘Best Director’ at the film festival in Cebu, Korea; and now we’re on Virgin Trains East Coast as a downloadable film on the BEAM app. I have to shout out special thanks to Danny Gonzalez and Phil Peacock in Marketing and Jack Roper in Internal Comms for their belief in me and my film, and also for their conviction that an independent film can sit alongside all the blockbusters.

Talking of work, I completed 20 years service this year! Sounds mad, but it really does fly by when you’re doing something you enjoy. I was a teenager when I took on my first role, as a Welcome Host at King’s Cross Station; and then I was allowed to transfer to the First Class lounge when I reached 18 and could sell alcohol.

After a few years in customer service, I was seconded into HR and my clerical career began. I’m currently the Regional Support Assistant at King’s Cross, where my role includes supporting the managerial teams, ordering goods, equipment and uniform for all departments, taking notes and general HR admin. The new uniform roll-out was my most recent big task – I always love seeing everyone dressed up on launch day, feeling proud and smart.

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Aside from the film, I’ve been a busy bee in other areas and recently produced my first theatre production for a week’s run as part of London’s Camden Fringe. I wrote a comedy drama called  Whines and Spirits, based around a Clairvoyant’s evening where the deceased won’t leave. It was a sell-out show, with five-star reviews, which I never expected –so it’s possible I will put the show on again in the future, maybe at the Edinburgh Fringe next year.

As much as I adore acting, I’m taking my writing to a more serious level now, and I’ve already written a feature film I’d love to see get made. But getting things done in the film world is extremely difficult – getting the funding, and so on – but I’m keeping positive as I know my film is an original idea. It’s a  British thriller, a whodunnit based abroad.

I really hope as many people as possible get to see Blood and Carpet; I’m immensely proud of it. So if you or your friends or family are travelling on the East Coast Main Line, download BEAM and watch away! Maybe in time it can go wider, on the West Coast Main Line, or even on Virgin Atlantic. That would be fantastic!

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