You’ll be seeing a lot of Rebecca Liddiard very soon. Not only is she starring in the new series, Houdini & Doyle, she is also the host of Houdini & Doyle’s World of Wonders: a Global-exclusive webseries taking us inside the magic, science, and beliefs of Houdini, Doyle, and the Edwardian period in which they lived.
A London, Ontario-born, Toronto-based actress, Liddiard has a strong, intelligent presence and a warm sense of humour, and she’s unforgettable once you’ve seen her on-screen. Her character on Houdini & Doyle, Adelaide Stratton, is Scotland Yard’s first woman constable – and is smack dab in the middle of the friendship/rivalry between Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As Adelaide, Rebecca gets to explore the darkest, most bizarre mysteries of London circa 1901, solving crimes with her own indomitable brains, alongside two of the most famous men of the time.
Rebecca started off as a dancer, but discovered theatre early on at her arts-based public school in London, Ontario. Despite being highly academic and assuring her parents that she planned to go into sciences — “I told them I was going to be a botanist – or an architect” — Rebecca had found her niche in acting. “When it came time to apply for university I only applied for theatre school. Sorry guys, this is what I’m doing!”
Four years at Ryerson University’s theatre school gave her ample opportunity to perform, and having the Toronto Film School in the same building meant that she honed her craft on screen as well as stage.
Then, last year, the Houdini & Doyle role came across Rebecca’s plate. Being a huge fan of period dramas, Rebecca had already decided that Adelaide was the best character she’d ever read, saying “Adelaide is a woman in a man’s world, and she’s very modern. She gets to say things and embody concepts that maybe didn’t really exists at that time, but because [Houdini & Doyle] is not a traditional period piece, there’s room to play and introduce those modern ideas.” And so, after rounds of auditions, Rebecca was working her day-job as an office manager when she got the call, ‘We’re flying you out to London on Saturday.’ She recalls, “… at which point I just packed up my stuff and walked out! That was the beginning of this crazy whirlwind. I was away from home for six months – it was my new reality.”
As Rebecca stepped into the role of Adelaide Stratton, she researched the Edwardian period and the character she’d be playing. While Constable Adelaide was indeed a real person, Rebecca found herself intrigued by other Edwardian feminists, including Sophia Stanley, a police officer who designed the first police uniforms worn by women; and the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Rebecca muses on women like Stanley and Browning: “What was it like to be a woman in a male-dominated profession then? There were women writing manifestos arguing for why women were a valuable asset to the workforce. Just voicing that a woman wanted a job was such a contentious thing.”
After England, Rebecca was back in Ontario filming the second half of Houdini & Doyle, then she was on-stage in Toronto in the acclaimed play Mustard, and then back on camera again, hosting Houdini & Doyle’s World of Wonders. So does one thing stand out from this eventful year? Rebecca says it was the English landscape: “It was shockingly beautiful. We filmed in this little town in the Peak District, and we had a goose-wrangler! That was his job, to wrangle trained geese on movie sets. We were in this little town that was just so perfect, with geese and everything — I stood there with [series executive producer] David Shore, and he’s as sarcastic and skeptical as they come, but he said ‘If this was a Disney movie set, I would tell them it was too perfect.’”
So, one final question for Rebecca before we peek into Houdini & Doyle’s world of supernatural mysteries: is our star a skeptic – or a believer? “Well, I’m a good imaginer, and I like to keep an open mind. I think it’s so much more fun to believe… Really, there are some things I’d rather not have some things explained…”
Catch Rebecca in Houdini & Doyle’s World of Wonders, exclusively on on GlobalTV.com and the Global GO app.
When is the premiere of Houdini & Doyle on TV? Houdini & Doyle premieres May 2 at 9 et/pt on Global TV, and is available the next day on GlobalTV.com and the Global GO app.