Thursday, 1 October 2015

Interviews - "Under the Lake" - Sophie Stone and Toby Whithouse

The BBC have released two new "Under the Lake" interviews as part of the Series 9 Media Pack - Sophie Stone (pictured above as "Cass") and writer, Toby Whithouse.  "Under the Lake" will air on BBC1 at 8.25pm on Saturday 3 October 2015.

1. Sophie Stone:

How did you begin your acting career?
Sneakily and with perseverance. I've always found solace and release in the ‘language’ of performance and being told for years that I ‘can't’ made me rebellious and driven. So when a friend dared me to sign up for an acting talent competition which resulted in winning a year’s TV contract, which led to my first paid job on Casualty, I had a thirst to be better. I trained for three years at Rada and was re-born an official actor. This is only the beginning, I'm still learning with every job. That’s the beauty of it.

You play a character who is deaf in a two-part episode based on an underwater base, can you tell us about her?
Cass is fierce, independent, loyal and a serious soldier. She’s a sergeant of a military team hired by an oil company to protect an underwater base. She’s an acute lip reader and her strengths lie in her senses and observational skills. She’s sharp. There’s an apocalyptic feel on the base which keeps her alert and cautious. She is disciplined and holds high regard for her Captain Moran and, like him, would put her life on the line for her team. Her friend and colleague Lunn is her voice, but she owns everything she says. Toby (Whithouse) writes brilliantly strong female roles and there’s no compromise in the way things are run, until there’s no choice. It’s an exciting role to embody.

Your character is strong, a leader, was it an emotionally trying role?
It was physically tough due to the sign language translation, high energy and intense emotional stakes of the scenes, but I loved it. Playing a strong female character who took control of certain situations, but cared deeply about her team, showed the strength of her abilities and celebrated them.

How was your experience of working alongside hearing actors?
The whole Doctor Who team and cast were incredible. We had a riot, but a very supportive riot, where everyone had an awareness of each other and we were accommodated at every stage. Time and energy were given to areas where sign language was used on screen. Supported by a BSL expert Jean St Clair, Zaki and I had intensive homework sessions and everyone in the team were clear, patient and subtle in their approach to access that there was never any reason to feel lost or singled out. Deafness was never shown or felt to be an issue. It makes all the difference when a group works together, and we grew close because of it.

How did you find acting with the Peter and Jenna and the other guest cast?
Both Peter and Jenna were pure brilliance to work with. They have such a demanding job that must be incredibly difficult to balance their personal lives with, but they always find time for those around them and for their devoted Whovians. They are very dedicated and caring people who deserve the adoration they receive. Morven, Arsher, Colin, Steven and Zaki were so exciting to be around, their individual personalities made the room electric. I felt an affinity with Paul since his make up meant he couldn’t hear much so he found conversations quite hard to follow, but this never dampened his spirit. A lot of love went into the show and I hold the designers and technical crew in high regard, they are incredible. Dan and Derek know how to sew a show! They’re ace.

2. Toby Whithouse:

“I wanted to tell a ghost story in the universe of Doctor Who, and doing with it what the series really thrives upon - taking a traditional idea and finding the sci-fi spin which makes it unique and fresh. We had talked a lot about where to set a ghost story to give it that new edge, and after thinking of making a ‘haunted house’ into a ‘haunted space station’, the idea of the even more claustrophobic location of an underwater base suddenly seemed like a really different way to go. A group of people trapped at the bottom of a lake surrounded by the scariest ghosts we could invent - that’s definitely something you would only get to write for Doctor Who."

“As the story progresses, it moves from being a ghost story into a ghost story with time travel, and reveals the protagonist who’s behind this whole situation. I’ve always been fascinated with the dramatic possibilities of time travel, and employing it in a ghost story gives you a whole new level of horror to play with - what happens if you met your own ghost? Could you prevent that future? Would you sacrifice yourself to the big bad monster to save the people around you? What’s not to love in a timey-wimey paradox - the Doctor vs. Ghosts vs. Time Travel - surely not everyone will get out alive…”