How Emilia Fox morphs into ‘Signora Volpe’ in new series


Call her the Fox in the farmhouse.

Veteran actress Emilia Fox stars in the new Acorn TV series “Signora Volpe” as a disillusioned British intelligence officer who finds herself solving crimes in the picturesque Italian countryside.

“When does it ever happen that you get sent on a great job with an amazing story with such a great character to the most beautiful place?” Fox, 47, told The Post.

Fox took her real surname into the three-part series, premiering May 2 and shot on location. Her onscreen alter-ego, Sylvia Fox, is a disgruntled MI6 officer who’s now a high-level desk jockey but misses her thrill-packed espionage days, which took her around the world.

“I think she’s been defined by her job in the first part of her life and she’s given her all to her professional life,” Fox said. “She’s clearly had a great relationship with her agents in the field.”

Sylvia still sleeps with her ex-husband, Adam (Jamie Bamber), but after feeling betrayed over a risky intelligence operation, she heads to Italy (Umbria) for the wedding of her niece, Alice (Issy Knopfler), the daughter of her older sister Isabel (Tara Fitzgerald) — who lives in Italy with her doctor-husband Matteo (Matteo Carlomagno). “Sylvia feels so betrayed when MI6 cut [her operatives] off and she feels like she’s put them in danger and let them down,” Fox said. “She feels wronged by her ex-husband … and she’s deciding whether to let all that go for the new life she discovers in Italy.

Emilia Fox and Tara Fitzgerald as Sylvia and Isabel in a scene from “Signora Volpe.”
Moris Puccio/AcornTV

“She’s used to operating alone and clearly she’s very good at her job — she’s brave, intelligent, insistent and physical,” Fox said. “I think that her going to Italy and exposing herself to the complications of family life … she can’t help but start to feel the emotions you do with family and maybe that opens up a whole new side of her.”

Sylvia and Isabel have a fraught sibling relationship — you’ll learn more about that as the series progresses — and, before too long, Sylvia is using her cloak-and-dagger expertise to investigate Alice’s sketchy fiancee, Tomasso, who’s hiding a criminal past.

At the end of Episode 1, Sylvia — energized by her second career and charmed with the Italian way of life — buys a dilapidated farmhouse near the medieval town of Panicale and settles into her new life as a transplanted crime solver.

While she’s busy solving crimes — in the second episode, Sylvia discovers a skeleton at an archaeological dig that’s linked to a local man suspected of the murder — she also encounters the local Carabinieri (police force) in the form of Captain Riva (Giovanni Cirfiera), who dubs her “Signora Volpe” (“volpe” means Fox in Italian). Their grudging tolerance for each other morphs into a mutual respect — and maybe even more.

Sylvia and Captain Riva (Giovanni Cirfiera) cross paths often in “Signora Volpe.”
Moris Puccio/AcornTV

“I was introduced to all these amazing Italian actors once I got there,” Fox said. “The film culture in Italy is so great and every single actor came [to the project] with their history and they really care about this as a profession. And getting an incredibly skilled crew … is why [the 90-minute episodes] look like a film.”

The farmhouse that subs for Sylvia’s new home is located in Bracciano, a small town located about 30 miles north of Rome.

“I’ve got to say it’s one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever been in in my life and the most amazing location near the lake at Bracciano,” Fox said. “They took it down, as it were, to built it up again in the series to make it Sylvia’s onscreen home. It’s owned by a wonderful painter and you can see lots of her paintings on the wall in Sylvia’s house. They’re some of the most beautiful paintings I’ve ever seen and, in fact, I ended up bringing many of them home [to the UK] having bought them.

“I got stopped at the airport by the staff there telling me how beautiful they thought [the paintings] were.”