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Johnny Flynn Talks About New Channel 4 Romcom Scrotal Recall



Johnny Flynn plays Dylan Witter in Channel 4’s new romantic comedy, Scrotal Recall. Here, on set midway through production, he talks about sex, STIs and the show’s surprisingly tender look at the trials and tribulations of finding ‘the one’.

Scrotal Recall will air on Channel 4 soon

What’s the concept of the show?
It’s the story of Dylan who, despite being a romantic idealist, has contracted chlamydia. He has to track down all of his exes to inform them, so each episode tells the story of how they met, and what happened next. It’s a story about falling in, and out of, love, and also about friendship – notably between Dylan and his two best friends, Luke and Evie, who always have his back. There is also a “will they/won’t they” story between Dylan and Evie which is pretty heartbreaking too.

What’s Dylan like?
At the point you meet him in the show, he’s just realising that the ideals he’s held since university have got him into a bit of a fix. He’s really clever. I really like him. He has my taste in music, films and books and that kind of thing. But he’s in trouble because he over-romanticises situations, and that’s his main problem with girls. He has a picture of what the perfect relationship is supposed to look like. So the good stuff, the things that he should really be seizing as opportunities, pass him by. He’s innocent, but really switched on and witty. His dynamic with Evie and Luke is great. He and Evie have this intense friendship, they’re really close and really care about each other. He and Luke have a brilliant bromance, they take the piss out of each other endlessly, it’s so funny.

With that title, and the subject matter, is there a lot of risqué subject matter in the show?
The situations that you might consider risqué or embarrassing are essentially funny and true. They’re not gratuitous; it isn’t full of gross-out humour. It’s never disgusting for its own sake. But it does deal with some funny and embarrassing situations.

Have you ever had an STI?

How do you think you would go about approaching your exes if something like that had happened?
I guess it depends on how serious the STI was. With the show, Dylan is doing the right thing, obviously, because chlamydia can get quite serious, but is easily treated. So he’s meeting up with his exes before it damages them in any permanent way. I guess I’d be a bit like Dylan.

To be honest, I don’t have many exes. I’ve been kind of with the same girl since school, with some exceptions when we broke up and went out with other people. So it would be quite easy for me. I’d basically call my wife and say “You need to start taking some pills.”

Did you have to film a lot of sex scenes?
Not many full on sex scenes. We actually still have one left to shoot, which is a really funny one. But there aren’t many. I’m with a different girl every episode, so I suddenly have to meet this person who’s playing my girlfriend for that week, and get to know them, and then at some point you have to kiss and pretend to jump into bed, But they’re all quite different. I guess what’s really good about the show is not every one of them is a happy relationship. It’s kind of true to people’s experiences. It’s all there.

Dylan seems to have clocked up quite a few partners. What’s your attitude towards that?
I think it’s fairly modest. On the list he draws up at the beginning there are 21 names, which I think is more than me, probably. I think that’s not terrifying. I think the reason there are quite a few names on there is because the point of what his character is going through, he’s realising why he’s a ‘serial boyfriend’. He doesn’t let things work, because he can never see what’s good in his life, so he follows the wrong avenue. I think everyone in their 30s looks back at their 20s and thinks “Oh God, if I’d just done this and this, and not done that…” There’s a kind of pathos about Dylan – the more people there are on his list, the sadder it is for him, because he does want to be with somebody. It’s not like he’s just shagging around. He really wants to fall in love. I think the number reflects the truth of that situation.

Underneath it all, the show is actually a surprisingly tender look at love and relationships, isn’t it?
Yeah, I would say that’s really the point. It’s a very heartfelt show. The central relationships, between the three main characters, are really loving. And you see a really lively, complex and true portrait of being friends who have grown up together and know each other inside out. I think that’s a really nice thing to celebrate.

Did you enjoy filming with Antonia and Daniel?
Yeah. We became best friends very quickly. I would say we’re going to be best friends for life. It’s really lovely. Dan and Antonia moved in to a flat together in Glasgow quite soon after we started shooting, because there was a flat available that was in a slightly nicer area. I’ve had my wife and son up with me, which is why I’m not part of that party. But we always hang out together in the evenings after shooting. It’s really, really nice to be playing with people that are actually your friends. We find ourselves really having fun on set. Sometimes that can be dangerous, because we really corpse a lot. We fall about laughing when we should be acting. So that’s really fun, I’m excited for the future of the show.

You’re from something of an acting dynasty…
Minor acting dynasty!

…Do you think it’s just in the blood, or is it a product of growing up with acting all around you?
I don’t really know. For me, it’s certainly been something I’ve been interested in since I was very young. My dad was an actor, and he made it all seem quite magical. It felt like a slightly subversive thing, telling stories, when all of my other friends’ parents were builders or bank clerks. It’s always seemed quite magical to me. Weirdly, my dad didn’t want me to become an actor, he was always quite resistant to it. He told me as much many times. That just made it more attractive to me. When I was young I was being pushed, against my will, towards becoming a classical musician. I had music scholarships, I had to play the violin and do orchestra practice and that sort of stuff. That meant I didn’t get to do any school plays. I desperately wanted to do that. So I went to drama school, which was what I really wanted to do. But I played music as well. I was writing my own songs and playing in bands, and found that I really loved that as well.

Is it difficult for you to combine your music with your acting commitments?
It’s tricky sometimes, because I have a young family as well. I feel like I’m doing three full-time jobs. And my wife works hard as well. It’s like a juggling act, but I try and make it work because I think I’d feel a bit crushed if I couldn’t do the music or the acting. I don’t want to have to make a choice. They’re different, but at the same time they sort of feed each other. I need to do them both.

So you could never prioritise one over the other?
No. One is like breathing and the other is like eating. I have to do them both. I usually like doing whichever one I haven’t done for a while. So if I’ve been touring with my band a lot, I’m really excited about doing a play, or vice versa. They provide a holiday from each other and keep the other job more interesting.

You’ve done a lot of theatre, including Jerusalem, and some Shakespeare at The Globe. Is it important to you to keep doing theatre as well as film and TV stuff?
Yeah, definitely. I haven’t done a play since spring of last year, and I’m getting itchy. So I’m going to head back into that. I did several years of doing straight, back-to-back plays, so I promised my wife that I wouldn’t do that for a while. I was never there to put my son to bed in the evenings. And so when the opportunity to do this show came up it was perfect. It’s fantastic to get to play a really interesting character in a really well-written show. And to do some comedy on TV as well, which I haven’t really done onscreen before.

Scrotal Recall is coming soon to Channel 4.



The Miniaturist Interviews: Romola Garai




Romola Garai The Miniaturist

Romola Garai plays Marin Brandt in The Miniaturist, premiering soon on BBC-1, here she talks about what drew her to the drama and being in a costume drama where she pretty much only gets to wear one costume.

What attracted you to the role of Marin?
I’d read the book shortly after it came out and I thought it was a really surprising novel, really interesting and with very strong feminist themes in it, so I was very excited about it. Time passed and then an email popped into my inbox with the subject, The Miniaturist. I thought it was fantastic they were making it and I was really excited to read the script.

It’s a very genre-bending novel; it appears to be like a costume drama we have seen before, but very quickly we realise that it’s not that. It’s about a woman coming into her own in a society that’s very patriarchal, it’s about a love affair, it’s about discrimination, and it’s about people trying to survive in an incredibly controlled state. It’s a thriller and it’s also a story about political and emotional awakening.

Marin is a particularly interesting character, I think she has one of the best arcs. When I first read the book, she was the character that stayed with me, and when I read the scripts I immediately remembered everything about her. She’s told in beautiful detail in the novel, which John has retained in the script. Marin is just a great character to play, it was a real treat.

Tell us about Marin.
When you first meet her, because the story is told through Nella’s perspective, you meet a woman who seems very cold and intimidating. Then gradually you get this drip-feed of information about her; you see she’s been helping Johannes run the business and you learn that they were orphaned at a young age. She’s very intellectual, she’s very well read, and she’s not married, which is very unusual at the time.

One of the reasons I found her such a fascinating character is that she’s full of secrets and she’s layered; very conflicted and has great faith, but also passions. The house they live in is essentially a tinder box of secrets that Marin has been sitting on to try and stop the secrets exploding out. However although it seems she is trying to keep a lid on it I think she believes that they could subtly break all the rules and be free within the house at least, if only her brother stopped acting so recklessly.

Hopefully audiences will question what is driving her hostility towards Nella. Marin needs Nella a lot to maintain the appearance of being a normal household but it’s also very important that Nella is afraid of her so that she doesn’t try digging and discovering the secrets that they are all trying to keep – because if anyone finds out then their futures are ruined.

What was it like doing the scenes between Marin and Nella?
I loved working with Anya, she’s an incredibly accomplished actress. She’s got a difficult job in this, because Nella has to be very innocent at the beginning of the story, which is always difficult for an actor to play, and also more innocent that a woman of that age would be now. She’s constantly making discoveries, she doesn’t have the information that the rest of us do so she’s always learning new things, and she’s done that with real beauty and subtlety. I really enjoyed doing all our scenes together.

Anya Taylor Joy The Miniaturist

Anya Taylor Joy plays Nella.

Tell us about Marin’s costume.
Marin only had one costume until a very late stage of the story. Her costume is typical of the puritan values of the period which rejected anything that smacked of luxury or louche values. They also didn’t wear make-up in this period at all, certainly not women of this class and station, and the hair was very simple and scraped back. Her head would have been covered at all times, so I had a black cap that I wore, but to be honest when I wore it I couldn’t really hear what anyone was saying and also talked incredibly loudly because I couldn’t hear myself, so essentially I was shouting at the other actors!

What makes The Miniaturist stand out from other period dramas?
I’ve done lots of historical pieces but there’s something very unusual about this. When you do contemporary novels set in the past the writers are able to do a lot more, and tackle complex themes which writers writing at the time weren’t able to do. More than that, it’s interesting in that it explores a number of different genres. It has elements of a thriller and then it becomes a family drama and then it becomes a polemic about what happens in societies that are so controlling.

I hope people will sit down to watch the show because it’s a pretty costume drama and will be surprised that it is actually rebellious and constantly bringing up important issues – and that they’ll be so engaged they won’t be able to look away.

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Trust Me Interviews: Sharon Small




Trust Me Sharon Small

Interview with Sharon Small, who plays Dr. Brigitte McAdams in new three part psychological thriller Trust Me which airs this August on BBC One.

What attracted you to this project?
I liked the character and the premise of the piece – I don’t think we’ve seen this before. And everyone is like an armchair detective, everyone is an armchair actor or doctor, so I thought that people would get off on that and think, gosh what would I do in that circumstance? The audience are the people who are privy to the truth and not us. With my character, Brigitte, I like her neediness, her sassiness – she’s fun and quick-fire talking – and quite honestly I rather fancied myself as a doctor [laughs].

How would you describe your character?
Brigitte is a good person; she’s sassy and is a really good doctor. She has got some issues, but she is trying her best to run this ward and with great intentions, which I think a lot of NHS doctors are.

How did you prepare for the role?
I grew my hair so that I could tie it up – normally I have short hair. We had a fantastic medical training day with Dan and got to do airways and cannulas and stitching and things like that, I loved that. The most important thing for me was to go around the actual A&E department (or ED department as I now know it’s called) in Edinburgh. We met this fantastic doctor – just watching him and really getting to observe what goes on in a ward, the dynamic, what people do and noticing that people are always looking at folders, everyone’s always collaborating and talking to each other. Everyone is always moving around, a lot more than you think and not that quickly. It’s less dramatic than you think.

Is your character challenging to play?
She was. Similarly in something that Jodie mentioned, I had quite a lot of medical jargon to say quite quickly, but I had less of the procedural stuff to do in terms of operational things. As the character is more and more revealed I had to make sure that I took care of how that happened, and that it was subtly done.

What makes a hospital a good arena for a drama?
It’s an ever-changing landscape, a hospital. Every new sort of event that you’re presented with means that you’re having to make life-saving decisions. People’s lives really are at stake, and honestly, my little taste of pretending that I was an ED doctor made me feel quite powerful. If I could fix people so that they survived, that would be an amazing ability.

What are the biggest challenges that you have faced so far during filming?
Saying the medical words Metronidazole – Met-ron-ida-zole, Metron-i-dazole – and trying to make scrubs look even remotely interesting, I don’t rock scrubs like Jodie does, I’m way too curvy for that!

What do you hope audiences will take away from this drama?
I hope that they’ll find themselves in that dilemma of wanting Cath/Ally to succeed, because she’s a good person and she ironically is brilliant at the job. I’m hoping that they’ll see the dilemma that she has, and as you want her to keep succeeding, it means she’s going to keep compromising people as she goes, as well as herself.

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Trust Me Interviews: Jodie Whittaker




Trust Me

Jodie Whittaker plays Cath in three part psychological thriller Trust Me which airs on BBC One this August.

What appealed to you about this project?
I was sent the script for the first episode and it fascinated me because it went in a completely different direction to how I thought it was going to. Particularly at the beginning when she’s suspended for whistleblowing and loses her job. It could have gone so many ways, and the fact that she takes on this new identity isn’t the way that I thought it would go. I love the fact that her choices are quite morally dubious – they certainly aren’t black and white. She makes decisions that are quite challenging to justify, even though we know her reasons. I’ve never acted in anything medical before, so it felt completely new.

How does Cath’s lie come about?
Cath starts off by having a conversation with her best friend, Ally, who is a middle grade doctor in A&E and is giving it all up to emigrate to New Zealand. Ally is packing up the life that Cath would have loved to have had, leaving it all behind to go and do something completely different. Suddenly there is an opportunity for her to take on the identity of her friend and in that panic, not necessarily the clearest thinking moment in her life, she does it. Once you set off on a path of lies it’s very difficult to undo it without bringing everything crashing down.

Did you receive any training on medical procedures?
Yes! The writer, Dan, who is also medical consultant and a doctor outside of TV production, showed us a load of stuff that he used when he was training people. He brought in the CPR dummy and showed us how to do a cannula and he, very bravely, let me put a cannula in his vein. I did it right, thank God! Also, YouTube is amazing. The genius of the internet is that you can basically sit at home and Google medical procedures, and TV shows such as 24 hours in A&E, which I watched hours of.

How else did you prepare for the role?
With regards to the technical stuff, we had an on-set consultant so that there was always someone to help when we had to do the procedures. The best thing for me was that my character was also out of her depth and didn’t always know what she was doing, so it kind of covered my own personal fumbles. I’m not someone who likes to over prepare for dialogue scenes, because I think that makes me not listen to what the other person is saying as I’ve already decided how I’m going to do it. It immediately makes it interesting and new and you can’t plan for that, which is great. You can’t ‘wing’ the medical stuff so I had to do my research for that. One of my friends is a Sister in A&E and I sent her a lot of messages asking ‘how do you pronounce this?’ and ‘what does that mean?’, so basically she was my personal medical coach even though she works full time!

Is it challenging playing someone who leads a double life?
Yes, but no more challenging that playing someone who has had something happen to them that I haven’t personally experienced. What’s hard is trying to gauge how good a liar she is, or how in a panic she is. You’ve got to be careful, because you can’t make the other actors seem stupid. These are intelligent, fully formed characters that you’re working with, so it was a fine line of being able to deceive and it not being something that comes easily to her. However, it can’t be that it makes everyone around her feel a bit like an idiot for not working it out. That was tricky, but the director is there to help guide you through it.

Did the uniform help to get you into character?
Yes. It feels odd when you put it on. I did five weeks of studio filming, back to back – all the medical stuff was contained so everything started to become a bit like second nature. The first few times I had to put on an apron, the ‘take’ ended up being about 15 minutes long. Then I worked out that you shouldn’t put the gloves on before the apron! There was lots of daft stuff like that, but you then get into a rhythm. It’s good because it makes you immediately feel like you look the part and then all I had to do was make sure that I knew the lines!

What were some of the challenges that you faced during filming?
I’m not very good with learning dialogue when there are lots of medical terms! I enjoy the adrenaline of being on set because I’m quite good at choreography, I respond well to being taught something physically. That’s why I was terrible at school, because they talk you through things rather than physically show you. I enjoyed doing the different types of surgery as it was fascinating, it’s nerve-wracking but you realise that you can do it. Also, the team who created the props put in so much hard work to make sure we didn’t mess up our bits. I struggled with having massive speeches that involved these medical words. I don’t have a brain for that!

Did you enjoy working in Scotland?
I absolutely loved Glasgow! The crew were phenomenal and the city is wonderful. I could move my family up there and we had a great time as there were loads of brilliant restaurants and everyone was lovely. It was brilliant and I would snap up another job there very quickly, although it does get very dark and cold over winter!

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