Ben Mansfield Talks Primeval

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EXCLUSIVE! Primeval star Ben Mansfield (Captain Becker) chats series four...

Primeval roared back onto ITV1 last night, and continues this evening at 7pm. Security guy Captain Becker’s among the returning members of the ARC team this year, so we spoke to the man who plays him, Ben Mansfield, about series four...

Have the events of the end of season three had an effect on Becker?
Yeah. He came in as a bodyguard to look after the team after seemingly having possibly lost all four the other team he feels sort of like there’s a weight upon his shoulders, and he’s determined to never let that happen again, taking more responsibility on himself. He knows his job better now, he’s more comfortable he’s been doing it for a lot longer, so there’s a sort of slickness there but he’s also a bit more sensitive, he’s lost some friends and seen people die as well in these missions to the future world to try to get them back.

So what’s he been doing in the time between series?
They sent a few missions through to try and rescue and find Danny and Abby and Connor, and subsequently lost team members, and that had an effect on Becker, but since then it’s been business as usual, but with that heavy loss of losing the team.

We saw last night that you’ve got some new toys to play with this year...
Sadly they got rid of our guns. I was very upset about that and Becker’s very upset about that. We now have electro-muscular disruptor weapons, which don’t have to kill the creature, but they also have their little hang-ups and their restrictions as well. We’ve got our little black boxes which record our information and track the members of the team as well, and they feed back all sorts of different information that will be gathered from your surroundings. Also we’ve got our new lovely Jess on comms so we’re in constant communication with eyes and ears, rather than just having to follow our anomaly detectors. She can tap into CCTV cameras and get road layouts and exact sort of geographical pinpointing, so it’s nice to have Jess there.

And it looks like she’s got a bit of a crush on Becker...
Yes, she has a bit of a crush on Becker, which is nice and Becker reciprocates that as well in his slightly emotionally retarded way. Having lost all of these people I think he’s reluctant to get close to anyone quickly. But there’s definitely a spark, and that progresses as the series goes on. There’s a physical attraction there, but not something that he pursues actively for some time. I think she’s more infatuated with him first. She always seems to be more caring towards him and worried about him than the rest of the team.

Matt Anderson’s come in as the new leader of the team on this series. How does he fit in with Becker?
I really don’t want to talk about the alpha male cliche, but that whole idea of having spirited male leaders... There can be frictions, but they get on very well, and you can tell from the first episode they’ve worked together in this new ARC and that they’re quite fluid and efficient together, the rest of the team. I think that stems from Matt having a military background but also having a sensitivity towards the science angle as well.

Primeval was cancelled before it had an unexpected reprieve. Did you think that was it for the show?
It had definitely gone, but then it was resurrected quite magnificently. It was odd. I was expecting to do another series, and wanted to and was very sad to hear it wasn’t coming back, but it was quite refreshing for me, I got to do two Shakespeare plays and go back to the theatre with Judi Dench and Peter Hall, which is something I probably wouldn’t have been able to do if the show hadn’t been cancelled then – it was quite convenient for me, in fact! I went off and did other projects and then came back. I finished A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Rose Theatre in Kingston on the Saturday night, cut my hair on the Sunday and drove to Wales, got the ferry on Monday morning, did all my costume fittings and make up tests on the Monday and started filming on the Tuesday.

So no military boot camp this year?
There was no boot camp because we don’t have any guns any more!

Did it feel like a fresh start after the time out?
It was really odd, because just as soon as I was back in my black, tight uniform again, chasing dinosaurs, I felt I was Becker again. My first scene was with Ciarán [McMenamin] who hadn’t done it before, so there was that element of freshness to it being a new experience, but also it was like coming back to the show as well, there was a familiarity to it.

Was it weird going from new boy on the last series to one of the old hands this time out?
In the first episode, I’m the only one to go out on a mission that’s been in any Primeval before! Yeah, that was really odd.