A Perfect Day in the pipeline for Claire

LESS than a year after starring in Five's Perfect Day: The Wedding, it's a classic case of life imitating art for Claire Goose.

The Edinburgh-born television star is planning to marry long-term boyfriend Craig Woodrow - a TV producer-turned-writer whom she met on a blind date.

"Funnily enough I got engaged two weeks ago so I'll be getting married myself!" the bubbly former Casualty star beams. "We don't want to stay engaged for five years or anything like that so we're really hoping to get married next year."

After a painful split with Casualty co-star Johnathan Kerrigan in 2001 after four years together, Claire found love again with Craig a couple of years ago. "A friend of ours set us up so there is definitely something to be said for blind dates," the 31-year-old smiles, adding that both her and Craig's parents also met on blind dates.

"Marriage is something that we've talked about for quite a long time so we're very excited and just want to do it as soon as possible really!"

However, the former Waking The Dead actress admits that her impending nuptials could be put on hold for a little while if she and her 33-year-old fiance can't find their dream venue in time.

"We keep saying to all our friends 'oh yes we're going to get married in a year' and they're all like 'really? You can get married in just a year?'. I really hope so! But from what people have told me, most couples take about two years to plan their wedding - the main problem is that you can't get the venue you want on the day you want. Who knows - we'll just ride the wave and see where it takes us," she smiles.

Claire, who spent her early years in Clerwood while her GP father studied medicine at Edinburgh University, has recently finished filming the prequel and sequel to Perfect Day: The Wedding, and reveals that the final two-hour instalment, Perfect Day: The Funeral, sees her character Amy desperately trying for a baby with her new husband Tom.

Back in the real world however, the star laughs off any suggestion that she might be ready to start a family herself, even though she had in the past said she wished to be a mum by the time she was 31. "Not right now - I think we'd better wait until the wedding is out of the way, she giggles. "I am completely broody though," she admits a few seconds later.

"One of my friends has two absolutely gorgeous children and I'm actually godmother to the one-year-old and I've known the four-year-old since he was born so I spend a lot of time with them. Craig and I definitely both want children so hopefully it will happen at some point for us," she adds.

On top of conception worries, the two-hour sequel finds the entire 30-something group a year on and at another major turning point in their lives as they meet once again to mourn the tragic death of an old friend.

"I suppose the most obvious thing is that Amy's grown up in The Funeral and she's far more grounded and settled," Claire explains. "In the prequel, Perfect Day: The Millennium, she's going through a really hard time because her mum died six months before they all get together for New Year. "Her relationship with Pete isn't going very well, she's drinking far too much and taking a lot of drugs and she's just quite raw and very vulnerable."

Claire, of course knows how it feels to face the prospect of death. Five years ago she discovered a lump on her breast and had to face the very real spectre of cancer - just after splitting from former lover Kerrigan. "It was all very shocking because it came pretty much out of the blue," she recalls. "It was the last straw, really. Nothing can prepare you for that moment when you are faced with the possibility of cancer, and everyone reacts in a different way.

"As soon as I knew I had a lump, I decided to get it sorted. Then I just got on with it. I had a biopsy on the Friday and the results came through the following Tuesday."

It would have been the longest weekend of her life, had it not been for the fact that, through it all, her filming schedule kept her busy. With just the Saturday off work, she spent it with her Waking The Dead co-star Sue Johnston, who had also been by her side on the trip to hospital for the biopsies.

"I suppose, in a way, it was quite good that I was busy," says Claire. "But just because I did it all in a very business-like fashion didn't stop it being frightening."

When the all-clear came through, she couldn't resist celebrating by posing for photos

in a revealing basque - one of many photoshoots she has provided for lads' magazines.

"After confronting the possibility of losing a breast, I decided I'd live for the moment," she says. "A few days after the doctors had told me the lump was benign, I was contacted by a men's magazine and thought: 'Yeah, why not?' I was just so pleased that I still had my breasts."

She no longer feels the need to show off the figure which once saw her named as one of Britain's sexiest women, and says she feels far more confident and content.

"I'm far more comfortable in my 30s because I know more of who I am and what I want out of life.

"I look back on my 20s and although they were great, I wouldn't particularly want to relive them," she laughs. "I think that you just become more of an adult when you turn 30, you're not afraid to express your opinions any more, and I've definitely come to a point in my life where I worry less what people will think of me, which I think I did spend a lot of my 20s doing.

"I can't be nice to everyone all of the time in fear of what they may think of me," she continues. "You have to be honest with people and that's as good as you can be, so now if I don't want to do that I'll make my excuses and say 'actually no I really don't fancy doing that, thanks anyway!"'

Outside of work Claire is an ambassador for bottled water company One, which donates all its profits to a charity which builds water pumps powered by children's roundabouts in African villages.

The company is run by her brother Duncan, who recently competed in the JogScotland Co-op 5k Challenge race in Inverleith Park, carrying a 25-litre jerry-can full of water on his head.

"It's so important that safe clean water is available to everyone in Africa," she says.

"Roundabout is an extraordinarily simple idea - it is literally a children's roundabout placed on top of a pump and each turn of the roundabout pumps clean water out of the ground into storage tanks. The kids have a great time!"

But it's when she's talking about her work that Claire's new-found confidence shines through. Viewers of The Wedding will remember that her character Amy almost forfeits her marriage to Tom because of doubts about Pete. The newly-weds aren't exactly seeing eye to eye in The Funeral, but Claire insists that Amy and Tom are meant to be.

"Whatever Amy and Tom go through, I do think they're great together and that she has made the right decision about marrying him," she says. "By nature she's quite an insecure person and the one thing that Tom does give her is reassurance which is a massive thing for her when she's had so much upheaval in her life. Amy was just really scared that if she settled down that meant that she had to be boring but it doesn't mean that at all.

"It just means that she's going through a different, exciting stage in her life, and thankfully she does realise that in the end and is much happier."

Perfect Day: The Millennium is on Five on Wednesday, October 25. Perfect Day: The Wedding follows on Wednesday November 1 and Perfect Day: The Funeral on Wednesday November 8.