Byline: By Jane Hall
Hollywood darling and Bend It Like Beckham star Archie Punjabi has swapped muddy football boots in favour of becoming a hotshot Scottish ghostbuster for her latest role, as Jane Hall discovers.
Deeply spiritual actress Archie Panjabi makes no secret of the fact that wherever she goes, she carries a small, gold amulet - a gift from her guru in Malaysia and a potent symbol of his protection.
"It is always with me; I really don't know what I would do if I lost it," she admits. "It may sound strange, but it is really important to me. I've always been quite psychic and believe there's a reason why things happen and that we need to learn from them.
"I think that is especially important in this business; it chews a lot of people up. It's one of the hardest professions in the world to maintain any kind of stability.
"But my spirituality helps with that - and you're not considered some kind of sissy when you start talking about your paranormal experiences now."
Archie, 28, was introduced to her guru by an aunt and has since visited him as often as she can and frequently keeps in contact by phone. "Anytime I'm down, I phone him up and he always seems to be in touch with my gut instinct and knows what's on my mind," she says.
Archie believes she has more in common with her latest TV character, academic psychologist Megan Sharma, than any other role in her career so far.
The Bend It Like Beckham and East is East star is one of the central figures in Sea Of Souls, a mix of cult show the X-Files and thriller Sixth Sense, which starts on BBC One tonight.
Archie's character, street-wise post-graduate student Megan Sharma, is the kind of girl for whom brushes with voodoo, telepathy, clairvoyance and psychic healing are all part of a normal day in the office.
"I am becoming more and more open to the whole area of spirituality and alternative ways of looking at things and I think I have that in common with Megan.
"In fact, I based her very much on things I already had in my own life - more than any other character I've played. There were so many parallels.
"If she sees a lot of evidence, then she does get excited and her gut instinct is usually quite right. That is down to her being an intelligent and spiritual woman.
"Women always have a sixth sense and a certain instinct and Megan definitely brings those qualities to the group. She has all the intellectual abilities, but is more streetwise than the other two. Her social skills are the biggest attribute to the unit - because even though they are dealing with the paranormal, they are dealing with people.
"Megan is much more aware of people's emotions and it's often her who's able to scoop out the truth from them."
Archie draws other parallels between herself and this enthusiastic, post-graduate student of parapsychology - she believes they have both had to battle against other people's expectations.
"Megan is very bright and knowledgeable and has been selected by research fellow Douglas Monaghan (played by Scottish actor Bill Paterson) to join him in the parapsychology unit as a team member and she is thrilled. …