It’s never truly surprising to hear that a performer has had an eccentric childhood; it almost seems like a requirement to form their creativity. But the curious blend of rural charm and city glamour that defined Van Der Valk's Maime McCoy and her Yorkshire childhood certainly stands out amongst the usual tales. Between dance lessons in chicken coops, celebrities helicoptering into the family restaurant, the simplicity of baking cakes, and her father’s two appearances on MasterChef, Maime thinks her creative career has always been in the cards.
Despite how fated her career may seem, it wasn’t a walk in the park to get to the silver screen. McCoy had to hustle hard to come to be where she is today. And in a society where we too often only celebrate the successes of youth, it’s inspiring to see a single mother who has notched her most notable achievement’s in her 30s and 40s. So take a minute to learn a little bit more — and applaud! — this amazing actress.
1. McCoy’s father Eugene is a restauranteur and chef, currently running The Cranthorne Arms in Yorkshire, as is her brother, Rory, who runs Ducksoup and The Picklery Little Duck. But Maime’s not the only performer in her family; her younger brother, Eugene, is a stage actor.
2. While McCoy started her work in the performing arts as a dancer (her teacher as a youngster held classes in the backyard chicken coop) it wasn’t long after she began at London Metropolitan University that she fell in love with acting and began taking classes.
3. As McCoy was starting her career, she had many single appearances on some of our favorite series, including Endeavour, as Alice Vexin, one of Morse’s college friends; in Grantchester as Linda Morgan; and Wallander as Anna Westin. But her breakout role was as Nicole Palmerston-Amory in Personal Affairs.
4. In her 20s and early 30s, McCoy took temporary jobs, waitressed, and worked at a friend’s cupcake business to support herself in between her acting roles. It was only in 2014, when she took on the role of Milady in The Musketeers, that she began to see the opportunity to support herself solely with her acting career.
5. It was during this time, when her career was struggling to take off, that she founded a cake and baked goods business called Mary’s Party Cakes.
6. Why “Mary’s” Party Cakes? Well, Mary is McCoy's real name! "Maime" is a nickname bestowed upon her by her kid brother from when they were children.
7. McCoy’s career may have taken off since The Musketeers, but Van Der Valk is actually her first official leading role in a series.
8. Not only was the accomplishment of securing a leading role a dream come true for McCoy, but so was the storyline and experience of Van Der Valk. Fascinated and impressed by stunt work, McCoy admits that she’s eager to take it on, though sometimes she throws herself into the fray a bit too hard.
9. In addition to her casting and stunt work, McCoy was also excited to find collaborators on the Van Der Valk set. The writer, Chris Murray, added a moment that McCoy conceived of into episode three. She’s been close-lipped on it so far, but she has said that, “it [is] a nod to one of my favourite [sic] films, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves!”
10. Despite finally achieving her dreams, McCoy's life is still anchored in reality. The single parent of a four-year-old girl, she says that working on Van Der Valk was a challenge while trying to also parent — like the time she had to spend the night in the hospital with her daughter, only to turn around and go right into work for a 6am call.
You can catch Van Der Valk’s premiere on WGBH 2 at 9pm on Sunday, September 13, or right here on wgbh.org. In the meantime, check out a preview here: