Building up to the climactic two-part finale to Primeval V, we delve back in the archives to present key interviews from the past five seasons, beginning with two of the leading ladies: Juliet Aubrey and Lucy Brown.
As the first season of Primeval progressed, Professor Nick Cutter was torn between his feelings for his long-disappeared wife Helen (Juliet Aubrey) and his developing affection for civil servant Claudia Brown (Lucy Brown). Back in 2007, at the initial launch of the series, the two rivals downed cudgels to discuss the show with Paul Simpson…
What did you think when you first read the scripts?
Lucy Brown: When I first was given the scripts, I wasn’t told anything about it, so I went to my little coffee shop round from where I live, as I normally do when I get given scripts, and got to page three… and went, “What?!” I didn’t see dinosaurs coming!
I loved it, and one of the main things I loved, aside from the fact that it’s got dinosaurs in it, is that it’s a very character driven piece and it deals with real human relationships. Hopefully throughout the course of the series you actually start to really care about what’s going on with these five, aside from the dinosaurs. I really loved it.
Juliet Aubrey: There are some very interesting relationships, which develop in a good way – there’s funny stuff and farce. It’s all good stuff, very entertaining, and I knew that the guys who were doing the special effects were going to do it brilliantly.
I was fascinated by Helen because she is such a mystery figure. I was interested in working with Dougie – there have been a few projects that we’ve nearly worked on together and haven’t, so I’ve been looking for an opportunity to work together, so that was good. Estranged husband and wife is a good relationship – and they’re very estranged!
Is there anything there immediately between Claudia and Cutter?
Lucy Brown: Yes…
From both sides, or just from hers?
Lucy Brown: Oh no it’s from both, very much so, as you’ll realise from the way it progresses. As Adrian Hodges told me when we first started talking about it, the first time they meet, she goes up and kisses him. From there, what happens pushes them apart, but this is all bubbling away and they definitely like each other. Then towards episodes three, four and five, there’s a hint of more going on there, and in episode five they do kiss, and it develops further from there.
Were you in the same position as the other castmembers in only seeing the first three scripts? Or did you know where the story was going?
Lucy Brown: I knew, because I’d spoken to the writer and director, that that was where it was going. I just wasn’t quite sure how.
What does Claudia see in Cutter?
Lucy Brown: He’s a sexy scientist guy! I think she falls in love with his intellect, his passion for what he does. Women tend to when someone is passionate about what they do. He cares, he’s warm, he says what he thinks, and there’s some emotion there as well. I think there’s the initial attraction in the physical sense and then as they work together over the next few episodes, she sees more and more into his character and he into hers.
Do you and Helen come into conflict over him?
Both together: Yes!!
We presumably see some more of Helen than just the ‘holiday snaps’ in the Cambrian revealed in the first episode?
Juliet Aubrey: Yes. Helen is an enigmatic character who is talked about a lot before we meet her. We see a lot more of her as the story goes on. She kind of flits in and out, and messes things up a bit to gee them all up a bit. She play a few mind games with them, with a few animals, then goes back again. She’s taunting her husband in a way. Yet she wants to see him in the flesh. She doesn’t want to stick around. She prefers not living [in the modern world] – [where she is] is a fascinating world; she’s with dinosaurs, running with every creature, swimming with every reptile, flying with every bird. She’s totally in touch with her instincts for survival. She has what what you see her with: a little backpack and a knife. And off she goes…. shopping at ASDA!
That was a very funny shoot for the first scene: it was a night shoot, filmed at 4 in the morning, and pouring with rain, as it was quite often at the beginning of the shoot. We were somewhere off the M25 in a car park – it was a real supermarket. And I was definitely being chased by a dinosaur, and definitely having cars thrown on me! It’s all true!
Is that you at all – going off trekking with your backpack and knife?
Juliet Aubrey: I’d love to live that life, I imagine. Helen’s very good at camouflage as well – you can imagine her up against a tree. I’d like to do a bit of that – I used to travel a lot when I was a student whenever I could, backpacking around basically.
James Murray talked about tracking in Belize to get into character for Stephen…
Juliet Aubrey: Did he? How interesting! I did not do anything like that. I got very fit and very strong for it, because that’s how she had to be, and it’s always good to have a good excuse to get yourself fit. I do less travelling around now, because I’ve got two little babies…
Do we know why Helen chose not to come back initially?
Juliet Aubrey: She doesn’t want people to get their claws into her and make her stay. I also think that after a while time goes by and the slight untruth she told about being dead, that little fib, became a little more difficult to admit to. Suddenly years have gone by, and it’s “why haven’t you come back for seven or eight years?” She’s loving what she was doing. Knowing her husband would make her stay… she’s on a big quest in a far more interesting world to find out about the future. That’s what she’s interested in.
Are you playing her as someone with the influence of the first wife, as in Jane Eyre or Rebecca, that ‘first woman’ who can never be lived up to?
Juliet Aubrey: To be honest, she’s not that bothered by those earthly, human things – she’s on a different level really.
Is there direct contact between Helen and Claudia?
Juliet Aubrey: Yes, there’s a lot.
Lucy Brown: There’s quite a bit in episode five, because they’re not exactly the best of friends. But she comes back and ends up saving my life.
Juliet Aubrey: That’s a very exciting episode. I think Helen enjoys coming to her rescue.
Your hair’s different now from the way she looks in the series?
Juliet Aubrey: Yes I had it all chopped off for a part that I was playing about a Belgian Iranian assassin, and all Belgian Iranian assassins look like this… [laughs] No, I just wanted a change.
If there’s a second series, can Helen get her hair cut where she is?
Juliet Aubrey: Talking about this with the directors, we decided that she can come in at any point, and pop into Prada in the middle of the night and get a few new outfits. And it’s amazing what you can do with hair these days… a few extensions and it’ll be straight back to where we were before. It’s so good now that you can do that: it used to be that you had to keep your hair so long, just for work, but now you can make it long in a couple of hours.
So does Helen control the anomalies?
Juliet Aubrey: Yes. She likes to mess it up a bit, definitely, leave a few clues that she’s been there.
Does she become the key to them entering the different worlds?
Juliet Aubrey: She might do – she can influence things in a way that becomes more clear as the series progresses.
Lucy, what’s it like playing a nice government agent?
Lucy Brown: Nice? She gets pushed a bit. Nice is not the word I’d use to describe Claudia at all. You can’t be nice to get to the stage she is in the Civil Service. She’s being fast tracked through it when we meet her, and she’s ended up in the local police division. And like hundreds of young women in the City, she wants to assert herself, be ambitious, be taken very seriously, which is thrown completely when she’s thrown into this group and what she has to deal with. She finds herself constantly torn, and then she starts to fall in love with the professor. Her morals are torn, trying to do the right thing, and also working very hard at what she does. Ben Miller is the man she answers to, but as the show progresses she gets accepted more into this side of it.
Do you abandon the Home Office to be out in the field?
Lucy Brown: I’m out there all the way through it, but when I am out in the field I’ve got one foot in the Home Office, and I’m trying to fend off phone calls from my boss. Cutter’s there telling me to do this, and I’m saying, “they’ve told me to do this”. In the end I usually go with Cutter, and face the music when I get back.
What’s the most challenging part of the project for you?
Juliet Aubrey: In a physical way, imagining being crushed by cars and chased by dinosaurs is quite a leap of faith, really. That was a good challenge.
Are shows like this – such as Lost, Doctor Who, Stargate – things you like to watch?
Lucy Brown: I’ve never seen much of Doctor Who, and there isn’t much of this kind of telly on. I never saw Stargate, and I watched the first season of Lost, but it’s lost me now.
Juliet Aubrey: I think what we’re trying to say is “It’s new, it’s fresh, it’s not like anything else you’ve seen before?”
So what do you think is going to attract people to it?
Juliet Aubrey: I think people will watch it and be drawn in by it. It’s easier for people on the outside to answer that question more than me.
Lucy Brown: What I like about the show: we’re obviously going to get compared with Doctor Who: we’re in the same slot, and dealing with time travel to a certain extent, but I think people will be drawn to this show more. It’s a quite sexy shot, the way it’s shot, the effects, the cast – it’s young, fresh and sexy and I think that’s what people want.
Don’t miss our series 5 interviews and reviews either