Primeval: Abby & Connor

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Exclusive SFX.co.uk interview with Andrew Lee Potts and Hannah Spearritt

Next week, Primeval is back for a fifth season, starting on Tuesday 24 May on Watch (it’ll be on ITV 1 later this year if you don’t have that channel). And to get you in the mood, here’s SFX ’s chat with the show’s two stars, Hannah Spearritt and Andrew Lee Potts, for who the show hasn’t just been an acting gig…

SFX : Is there a different feel to series five?

Hannah: “Personally I think series five feels massively different. It’s got a completely different feel. It’s got another energy. The end of series four sets the feel for series five. It steps up.”

Andrew: “I think you saw in episode seven of series four everything started to just come together. It just got a hell of a lot more interesting and it carries on from that point, really. Getting more interesting as it goes, and getting more layered.”

SFX: Is Abby going to have more to do in series five? She felt a little sidelined in series four?

Hannah: “In series five you may not think that. I think… I know Abby is more in the forefront in series five.”

Andrew: “There is a reason for that. They cut bits out of it last series. They decided to shape the story a little bit differently to how they were in the scripts. So in the end it might have appeared that Hannah wasn’t in it as much as we shot. Sometime the guys will not put something in specifically because they don’t want to go there yet, or they want to introduce it later. A lot of the stuff at the wedding got cut between you and Lucy, remember that?”

Hannah: “Definitely in series five you won’t feel that. Abby is definitely in the forefront. And also, series four you’re having to introduce loads of new characters. What’s so lovely about series five is that that’s all set up, that’s all great, and we can carry on with the story as we need to. We can crack on with that.”

SFX: There seems to be a bit of a science versus ecology vibe going on, with Abby and Connor representing each camp.

Hannah: “Absolutely.”

Andrew: “Definitely. The two worlds collide. That was always the plan. And that’s why, when we first went back to talk about these final two series, that was quite exciting – knowing that they were going to pull us apart quite dramatically because of that, as opposed to there being some other girl involved.”

Hannah: “It’s not about a girl.”

Andrew: “It’s about their fundamental values. It’s about why they’re even in this show in the first place. I’m from the science world and Abby’s from the animal world. And they don’t always mix very well.”

Hannah: “They think very differently. But yeah, it was very exciting for us.”

SFX: Speaking of the animal world, do you have favourite dinosaurs from the show?

Hannah: “From series four I loved the arboreal raptor. Just the way it moves. And Rex, obviously. He’s very cute.”

Andrew: “I like the Future Predators still. I’m a huge fan of those. And they’re coming back. But every time they come back they have a slightly different twist to them, which is kinda cool. But the series kinda goes quite a lot darker, and I suppose in a way they have to bring the Future Predators back, because of what they represent within the show, which is the future that we don’t want. So not only do Abby and Connor go head to head with their worlds, we also have humans vs the future as well, which is really cool. On their turf. And ours. It gets really exciting towards the end.”

SFX : So without being too spoilery, can you tell us roughly what happens to your characters in series five?

Hannah: “From Abby’s point of view, she’s put in a difficult position from the kick off of the series. As you know from series four, Matt’s from the future. Abby doesn’t know this yet. But at the beginning of series five, she actually walks in on Matt and discovers that he’s from the future. And that kicks off an alliance between Matt and Abby. Its starts off this relationship where she is now privy to a lot of information that she maybe initially didn’t want but she is very interested in why Matt is here and making sure that things don’t go wrong. That’s her journey in a nutshell. But she is also very concerned about Connor and the reasons why he’s doing what he is doing and whether he’s being manipulated. And she has her own thoughts on Philip and what he’s doing, and she doesn’t think it’s for the right reasons.

“For both of them, it’s a very tough position. To try to make the right choices and do the right thing while trying to keep their relationship, um, innocent. But it gets very complex, and not innocent, and difficult.”

Andrew: “There are clearly two camps within the ARC. Abby and Matt, and Connor and Philip. But the scary thing is that in a idealistic world, they are both right. Nobody is doing evil here, but what they might end up with in the end is complete and utter catastrophe. And when they find out about each other, neither of them want to back down. Neither of them can back down, because their morals aren’t letting them. And we take that to breaking point in the show.

“Also, underneath all that, there are still the creatures of the week. And there’s still having to deal with that stuff. They’re still putting us in the maddest locations to deal with the strangest scenarios.”

SFX : Such as?

Hannah: “The submarine is great!”

Andrew: “We’ve got underground.”

Hannah: “We’ve got Victorian London. Which looks brilliant.”

Andrew: “With the reintroduction of Emily and her husband back into it, which is cool.”

Hannah: “We’ve got a disused power station.”

Andrew: “We blow up a shopping centre.”

Hannah: “As you do.”

Andrew: “We have, maybe, the future… maybe…”

Hannah: “You’ve already let that slip…”

Andrew: “Yeah, okay, so, we’ve got the past, the present and the future. That’s not bad. Victorian London looks brilliant. And full credit to the CG guys at the Mill. It’s not just the creatures that look brilliant; the extension of London that they did… We were like, ‘Wow!’ With the raptor running around, it’s crazy!”

Hannah: “And the costumes are really good!”

SFX : You filmed these two series in Ireland. Any side benefits resulting from that?

Andrew: “Being in Dublin, it’s a cracking place.”

Hannah: “Just living in Dublin is great. It’s a lovely, lovely city. It’s nice to experience another city other than London.”

Andrew: “We were really lucky because we got to relocate completely. That’s where we were lucky being together, being a couple. We weren’t travelling back to see our partners all the time. We were there.”

Hannah: “We set up home, set up camp there, and completely settled in. It didn’t feel like a year at all. But we were gagging to get back by the end.”

SFX: Any Guinness imbibed?

Hannah: [to Andrew] “You got into Guinness.”

Andrew: “Not a massive amount but I did quite like it.”

Hannah: “And you went to a festival over there.”

Andrew: “My first festival!”

Hannah: “We took a picnic.”

SFX: Although we don’t want to have to ask this question, is series five the end of Primeval ?

Andrew: “I think at the moment, we’re not talking about anything right now, at the moment. But Primeval as a brand – I think it has some life in it yet. Whether it has me and Hannah in it, is a whole different thing. But I do think this is the strongest series we’ve done. I know there is talk about a film. I know there are talks with Canada about doing a series out there. Which is all very interesting. [Producer/creator] Tim Haines has definitely got his irons in a few fires.”

SFX : But if this is the last series with you in it…

Andrew: “We’re not saying that.”

SFX: But in case it is, does end up on a cliffhanger? Our readers seem to be getting really annoyed at series that end of cliffhangers that we’ll never see the resolution to.

Hannah: “No it doesn’t. You won’t feel dissatisfied. You won’t feel short-changed.”

Andrew: “They’ve taken everything into account, partly because of what happened at the end of series three. They’re covering their backs.”

Hannah: “Talk about a cliffhanger. That was ridiculous.”

Andrew: “But they did think we were coming back at that point, that’s why it was done. But also, this series does leave it open enough that we could come back. I mean, there is a nice twist at the end, like in a good horror film.”

SFX: Because you live and work together was it easy or difficult to switch of when you got home?

Hannah: “You want to. You want to shut the door and forget work. But when you’ve got a turnaround of 11 hours, it’s kinda easier to go, ‘Let’s do our lines quickly.’”

Andrew: “Yeah, that’s what we used to do. Get home, do our lines, and then forget about it. We’re actually really good at being Hannah and Andrew as well. We’re really good at just doing normal stuff.”

SFX: Any plans for the future?

Andrew: “I hope to find another character that I like playing as much as Connor. But if I don’t at least I got to do it once.”

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