Switch Interview: Lacey Turner

The star of the new ITV2 show about four young witches discusses what her character's like... and why she's terrified of cats!

Lacey Turner as Stella in Switch

Switch is a new series from the same stable as Being Human . Produced, like that show, by Touchpaper TV (and sharing a lot of the same crew), it centres on four young witches living in Camden, played by Lacey Turner, Nina Toussaint-White, Hannah Tointon and Phoebe Fox.

On the day SFX visits the set, the four leads are spending the day shooting a scene which involves bringing a dead cat back to life. This is, shall we say, problematical for Lacey Turner, who plays Stella.

“It is actually a real cat, stuffed”, says Turner. “I’m not a fan of cats anyway so I’m quite pleased to see it laying there! But eventually by the end of the day we will have a live cat, which I am petrified of. I’m really, really scared of cats. You know if you go on holiday and you’re eating outside and there’s all these cats…? I’m on the table. It’s embarrassing!”

SFX: You’ve worked on Being Human too, which also blends the fantastical and the everyday. How would you compare the two series?
Lacey Turner: “To be honest, they’re completely different. I’m a massive fan of Being Human now, and Being Human is quite dark and mysterious, and this is bit a more fun and light-hearted. And it’s quite funny. The writing is fantastic which means that there’s some really witty characters and witty lines and stuff. So in one sense it is really different, this is a bit more upbeat and it’s not dark in any way. It’s real and it’s funny.”

So tell us about your character, Stella – what’s she like?
“She just happens to be a witch, but she’s also a really career-driven sort of girl. She knows where she’s going in life. She’s really set in her ways, she’s quite bossy, she knows what she wants. She’s got an answer for everything. She’s got a lot of love for her girls - when it comes to her girls she’ll drop anything. She solves everyone’s problems and she’s the mother hen of the group. She keeps the house together - he’s paying the bills and making sure everything is clean and tidy and everyone’s got money. So she’s very caring, but she is a bit of a control freak.”

Is that like you at all?
“I am a bit of a control freak I think, maybe, in the kitchen. I do like everything neat and tidy - but I don’t think I’m anywhere near as bad as her!”

Does she use magic to clean?
“No, but that is such a good idea! Why didn’t they think of that? It’d be so much easier! They live very normal lives and magic isn’t a massive part of their lives in a lot of ways, but when it comes to someone losing their job or a bit of a tricky situation, they’ll use it to help them out a little bit.”

How do you cast a spell?
“Well, there’s different spells for different things, and In order for a spell to work all four girls have to be in one place because each girl represents a different [element]: earth, water, air, fire. I’m Earth. You call a switch – ‘Switch’ means all four of you go to one place. ‘Get here quick, we’re in trouble and hurry up.’”

So if she’s Earth, is she particularly…. grounded, then?
“Yeah, it does sort of reflect their personalities.”

Is there an element of Stella coming to terms with being a witch, or is it treated in a very matter of fact way?
“She’s just a witch. I think she’s really comfortable with that, she’s always had it. A few of the girls are a bit more into the witch thing than she is, She works in advertising and she just wants to become really massive in that. She hasn’t probably practised magic as much as the other girls, so she’s not the strongest witch. But she can do the odd thing.”

So does she use magic to advance her career? Or is it just for emergencies?
“She’s really strong-minded and I think if she was to cheat like that I don’t think that she’d be satisfied. She’s the sort of person who wants to do it on her own and get there without using magic.”

Did you do any research?
“I did a little bit - though probably not as much as Phoebe [Fox]… Phoebe’s character, Grace, is a really, really good witch so she’s gone in depth with her research whereas I didn’t have to go that deep because I don’t think that Stella knows as much about it as Grace does. But I did do a little bit of research into witchcraft – and advertising [which Stella works in]. I’ve never had a normal job! I’ve never sat behind an office desk. Some of my friends are like graphic designers or in advertising, things like that, and I wouldn’t even have known how to give a presentation or anything, so I asked them. I wanted to see the way they dressed and things like that, because I’ve never worn a suit in my life, and all of a sudden I was faced with, like, a hundred pencil skirts! Oh my god, these clothes. The clothes are nothing like I’ve ever worn."

You started out in soap. How difficult is it to break away from that, and how does working on a show like this compare?
“Well, I sort of ended up in this industry by accident. I loved acting and singing and dancing, it was a hobby of mine; I never thought it would be a job. So when I landed the role as Stacey in EastEnders I didn’t really know what was coming, really. Then six and a half years went by and I came out of it and I was quite excited to see, cos everyone kept saying to me this isn’t how it really is, everything’s a lot slower. Cos was used to doing 14 scenes a day whereas here you do one, two maybe three scenes a day. For me that’s what I found so difficult, working a lot slower. In some ways it’s really nice because you get to experiment a bit more and try different things. And you get a lot more time to talk about your character as opposed to just jumping straight in there and shooting everything. So it’s different, but it’s nice in some ways.”

Read our Nina Toussaint-White interview .
Read our Caroline Quentin interview .

Switch starts airing on ITV2 on Monday 15 October, at 10.00pm.