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TV Interview

Suranne Jones 'Secret of Crickley Hall' Q&A: 'I love the supernatural'

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The Secret of Crickley Hall: Eve Caleigh (SURANNE JONES)

© BBC / Laurence Cendrowicz

Suranne Jones and Tom Ellis star in one of BBC One's most eagerly-awaited dramas of 2012 - haunted house drama The Secret of Crickley Hall is based on the novel by James Herbert and has been adapted for the small screen by writer / director Joe Ahearne (Doctor Who, Ultraviolet).

Series star Jones spoke to Digital Spy and other journalists on a visit to the thriller's spooky set and talked the horror genre, getting scared for real and co-star Douglas Henshall's role as a terrifying spectre!

What can you reveal about your role in The Secret of Crickley Hall?
"I've never done the ghost genre, or the horror genre. I read the script and the backstory of a woman losing her child, as well as the two timeframes, and it was appealing to me. Just the fact that this is a woman who's so desperate, which I think is the backdrop of any good ghost story.

"The fact that she's so desperate, clinging onto this missing child, is why she stays in the house. I just think Joe's done an amazing job with James's book, which I started to read and then I kind of put down, because I wanted to do our story first and then maybe go back to the book.

"Joe is brilliant, and also having a writer / director on hand, if you've got any questions about the script, he's very collaborative, as well as knowing what he wants and being very clear.

"The difficulty was being out of my comfort zone within the first three days - having to react to an empty staircase where I may or may not have seen a ghost, or walking through a house and Joe saying, 'There'll be a shadow here... or something scary there', and having to react to nothing."

The Secret of Crickley Hall: Augustus Cribben (DOUGLAS HENSHALL), Eve Caleigh (SURANNE JONES)

© BBC / Laurence Cendrowicz



Do you enjoy the balance of shooting a more grounded show Scott & Bailey and then moving onto a fantasy project?
"I'd never done anything sci-fi before I did Doctor Who and that was just brilliant, and I think Joe had seen my Doctor Who and he was a Doctor Who fan.

"What I look for - whether it's theatre or anything else - is just the strength of the script, and also something to kind of develop. I'm out of my comfort zone with this kind of genre, because it's a little bigger at times than something like Scott & Bailey which is quite naturalistic."

What makes The Secret of Crickley Hall particularly scary?
"I think it's that you see what we don't see. You see us going into a room, then you see through a flashback that same room but in the 1940s with the orphans being badly treated, then you come back to us. Maybe I'll have a bad feeling about something - something that I can't get my head around...

"Douglas Henshall is really frightening. I mainly see shadows and hear things, but at the very end we do a really scary scene. It's sad too, because you see orphans running around in period clothes, knowing they're doomed. There's a lot of things that are not just frightening but uncomfortable."

The Secret of Crickley Hall: Eve Caleigh (SURANNE JONES)

© BBC / Laurence Cendrowicz



Do you believe in the supernatural in real life?
"I've never seen a ghost, but I know people who have. I'm not sure, unless you've had the experience, that you can 100% believe. I know people who are completely sane that have said that they have [seen a ghost].

"I've had palm readings before. I'm open to most things. [But an encounter with a ghost has] never happened to me. I haven't had that experience, but I'm open to it.

"A medium came onto the set and went into the back bedroom and said there was an angry presence. We were all a bit freaked out. You can really scare yourself when you do things like this."

Have you enjoyed being spooked for TV?
"I love vampires and witches and ghosts. We've been swapping [horror] DVD and book choices. I'm excited to be involved with it. Like with Doctor Who, you do your job and then you hand it over to a team of people who put the finishing touches on, and then you're dying to see it."

The Secret of Crickley Hall: Eve Caleigh (SURANNE JONES)

© BBC / Laurence Cendrowicz



Are there any horror movies or TV shows that you remember from your past?
"Well, my mum told me not to watch Freddy [Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street], and I went over to my friend's house and we watched it and I was scared to bits!

"I loved The Wizard of Oz when I was younger, and Return to Oz is really frightening, because she gets put in a mental home..."

Do you think The Secret of Crickley Hall will appear to people who aren't horror fans?
"Yeah, I think because it's got a family narrative. The 2012 family story isn't all dark, so I think it will appeal to a wider audience."

The Secret of Crickley Hall begins this Sunday (November 18) at 9pm on BBC One.

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