“Because Primeval is a brand new show, it’s a completely blank canvas from which we can start creating things without anyone judging us on our roots and whether or not we’re being faithful to them.”
Having graduated from drama school only a few years ago, Lucy Brown is still a relative newcomer to the scene, but has already appeared opposite Sean Bean in Sharpe’s Challenge and Ben Miller in Malice Aforethought. Talking about her career so far she says:
“I like playing strong women, and I think all of the characters I’ve played before have elements of strength that perhaps aren’t so obvious at first glance. There is just so much great new writing coming through which is giving women the opportunity to play much stronger parts than just ‘the girlfriend’. There are very solid roles for women being written now, and that’s what our writer Adrian is so great at – he writes women very well.”
This brings us neatly on to Claudia Brown, the Home Office official who stumbles across the mysterious goings-on in the Forest of Dean, and joins forces with Cutter and his team in an effort to find answers. With an SAS team at her disposal and a formidable boss in the shape of James Lester, Claudia is not just killer heels and smart suits as Lucy explains:
“Although she’s rather new to the job, she’s extremely direct and I think she manages herself incredibly well in what is a predominantly male environment. One of my favourite relationships in the show is Claudia’s relationship with Lester because he’s such a bugger! He constantly appears to be putting her down with snide remarks; however he never takes her off the case. He lets her control the whole thing. So I like to think he’s seen the strength in her; he’s seen the backbone and the intelligence and trusts her to get the job done, despite the fact he’ll never admit it!”
Lucy is quick to point out that Claudia isn’t a strait-laced pen pusher, but has a genuine heart and soul:
“Although she’s tough and knows her own mind at the end of the day she’s still a girl. It would have been very easy to play her in one way – trussed up in her sharp suits, looking all forceful and issuing her SAS guys with secret directives. But actually we have to remember there is a very human side to her. I really wanted to keep her warm, as I want women to like her, to want her to win the hero’s heart, and let’s face it, if she wasn’t a little soft round the edges, I don’t think that Cutter would find her so attractive!”
The “will they won’t they” story line between Cutter and Claudia is a central theme of Primeval and the simmering chemistry between the two is set to have viewers screaming at the television for the hero to ‘just kiss her!’ Lucy says:
“Claudia is a challenge; she’s not a walkover and Cutter’s wife Helen was exactly the same. There are definite similarities in the two women and it’s pretty clear what his type is. But they’re both fighting the attraction. He’s working through a whole manner of issues surrounding his wife, and she is trying to keep her authority, taking her place within the working group, and not trying to jeopardise that. But it’s tricky when it comes to Cutter, because she basically just really fancies him, and what does a girl do when she fancies someone? Well, in Claudia’s case she goes kind of shy.”
She goes on:
“They come together, like many potential couples do; in the work place, only their work place is a little more out of the ordinary than most. In order to make it believable, you’ve just got to think about these two in a more recognisable scenario. Generally speaking, most people aren’t chasing dinosaurs, but imagine them in an office working together, and you’d get those same lingering glances, but they’d be over the top of a PC rather than through the jaws of a Gorgonopsid.”
So just how does Claudia come to be involved in the first instance?
“Claudia kind of falls into it by mistake; she works for the Home Office and she spends six months in certain departments gaining experience of each before she rotates. At the time we meet her she is in a local police division when she is sent out to liaise with the local force following reports of creature sightings in the woods. She’s meant to brush it all off as nonsense and then come back and close the case. She doesn’t want to stay in this department – she just wants to do her six months and then move on.
But of course she gets out there and things are a little more real than she had hoped; there are creatures wandering about in the woods, but they are bigger and somewhat older than your average wild cat! And that’s how she meets Cutter and the rest of the team. They are all totally new to what they see in the forest, and are just thrown together in their shared experience.”
She goes on to say:
“Claudia then has a real dilemma. She is torn all the way through between her commitment to her job and what Lester expects her to do, as well as doing right by this group of science geeks who she feels a great affinity for.
Lester has a very particular way of approaching the crisis which bears no correlation to the way in which Cutter does. Lester is all government cover ups, official secrets acts, guns and SAS teams, whereas Cutter is far more gentle and scientific in his approach. He wants to study the anomalies, and the creatures that are coming through. He wants the why and how, whereas Lester doesn’t care about the why or the how, he just wants it all to stop.”
Being work colleagues of sorts means that Claudia and Lester share a lot of screen time together, which in turn meant that Lucy and Ben Miller got to work together once again. A situation which Lucy clearly relished, as indeed did Ben:
“It’s an utter pleasure working with Ben, just brilliant. At lunchtimes and other breaks we’d go into each other’s trailers and work through our scenes. Because we’d worked together on Malice Aforethought we knew the way we each worked. The first few days we were on set I kept on getting a knock on my door and it would be Ben and he’d just come in and say with this huge grin on this face saying, “I’m just bloody loving this!” He was like a big kid who couldn’t quite believe his luck, so he was wonderful to have around.”
And as with the rest of the cast, Lucy had to get to grips with the CGI elements of the programme:
“Trying to work out where the creatures actually were was initially a bit weird, but it’s like anything, you just get used to it and begin to see the creatures in your mind’s eye. It seems really silly, but you do just imagine things being right there.
It’s just when you physically interact that it becomes difficult as you’re trying to make being hit by things that aren’t actually there look real. There’s a sequence on a rooftop when Claudia is knocked out by the wing of a Pterosaur, so there I was falling about onto the crash-mats, and I started doing the sound effects – it was like being five again. Dougie and James were terrible; they were just laughing at me.”
As the discussion turns to the inevitable comparisons to Doctor Who, Lucy laughs and explains it’s a comparison she is already used to hearing:
“When I start describing Primeval, everybody says “oh, so it’s like Doctor Who is it?”, and I’m like ‘no, it’s not.’ Doctor Who is a great show but I think it has an anchor in history and has to stay true to that in various forms.
Because Primeval is a brand new show, it’s a completely blank canvas from which we can start creating things without anyone judging us on our roots and whether or not we’re being faithful to them.
And as for Dougie being the new Doctor, well it’s just not a viable comparison. Cutter is simply a man who is trying to make sense of a series of extraordinary events in which he’s become caught up. Doctor Who is a time traveller who has alien blood and whose space ship looks a like a phone box. Really, the two guys couldn’t more different when you look at it like that.”