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TV Interview

Ben Miller ('Primeval')

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Ben Miller ('Primeval')
Saturday nights are about to get interesting again, with both the BBC's Robin Hood and ITV's Primeval returning for their third series this weekend. For the dinosaur action drama, there are big changes afoot this year: as well as four new additions to the cast, there's a new ongoing Egyptology storyline and a mysterious new object known as 'the artefact'. We caught up with Ben Miller, who plays sarcastic ARC boss Lester, on the set of the show for a chat about the new series.

How is filming coming along on series three?
"It's great, really good! I'm in series three a bit more than I have been in the other two series, which I'm really enjoying. Obviously I'm largely desk-bound but now quite a few of the stories happen here in the ARC so I get a bit more involved."

How would you say series three is different? There's a new Egypt-related mythological storyline, isn't there?
"I think certainly as the series is developing it's becoming less about 'Walking with Dinosaurs meets Doctor Who' and it's more becoming its own kind of thing. Also there are all kinds of weird stuff coming through the anomalies this year - not just dinosaurs - so that's another way in which it's changed."

Last year Lester got to wield a gun, didn't he?
"Yeah, I got to shoot a mammoth. Well, I won't say shoot a mammoth, I didn't actually do that – I shot a future predator but I was saved by a mammoth. The devil's in the detail, isn't it?"

What's in store for Lester this series, then?
"I have this rival called Christine working in a different government organisation who is also interested in anomalies and there's a kind of power struggle between me and her. That character is played by my wife in real life, which makes it really fun actually. My wife auditioned for the part and didn't tell anyone she was my wife until she had to, right at the last minute."

Have you worked together before?
"We did a film before in Australia but this is the first time we've had lots of scenes together."

What has it meant for you both personally? Has it meant you're taking the show home more?
"We do talk about it at home, yeah. We don't tend to rehearse it at home but we do kind of chat about it, probably more than you would otherwise. It's really helped our scenes, actually."

What sort of character is Christine?
"Christine is sort of even better at Lester's game than Lester is. She can out-manoeuver Lester!"

What does she want, then? Why's she getting involved in this?
"At this stage we're not entirely sure but she seems to be extremely interested in the anomalies either for her own political gain or maybe she's got a darker motivation. All I know is that they find this thing called the artefact. Wrapped up, it's about the size of a yoga mat but it's a weird sort of Toblerone kind of object that is able to map and predict the appearance of the anomalies. She knows all about the artefact somehow and she's very keen to get her hands on it!"

I hear the artefact is a sort of 'key'...
"Yeah, the artefact is a kind of key to the anomalies that explains why Helen Cutter's been able to navigate them so efficiently."

Christine is one of several new characters this series. What are the others like?
"The military are getting a lot more involved in the running of the ARC. There's a new military character, Captain Becker, who's a real muscle man. Also Jason Flemyng plays a fantastic new character called Danny, who's an ex-policeman and kind of the opposite of Cutter. He's a completely haywire kind of guy who just loves getting his hands dirty, loves action, loves having problems to solve and getting the job done. He'll be a very interesting counterpart to Cutter this series."

Primeval returns Saturday at 7.20pm on ITV1.

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