Lucy Brown interview: on returning to Primeval

Ahead of Lucy Brown’s return to the role of Jenny Lewis in Primeval, we caught up with her to discuss her characters in the series, and her favourite monsters…

Warning: We’ve tried to keep this interview as spoiler-free as possible, but if you want to watch Saturday’s episode absolutely cold, you may want to come back at 8:30 tomorrow before you read on!

After an uncertain future last year, the enormously popular Saturday sci-fi series Primeval has made a triumphant return with a fourth series. Actress Lucy Brown, who played the dual roles of Claudia Brown and the more bossy and efficient PR official Jenny Lewis, shuffled off the timeline in series three, having played a key part in the show since its very first episode.

With episode six of the current series, however, Lucy Brown returns as Jenny, with the character finding herself unexpectedly reunited with her old team mates.

With that episode due to air this Saturday, we caught up with Lucy to talk about her guest appearance, the chances of a Primeval movie, and the possibility of her returning to her role for good…

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You’re reprising your role as Jenny Lewis this Saturday – what brought you back to Primeval?

When the character left in series three, it was discussed then, this particular storyline, so I knew there was something there. And then, of course, just afterwards, we had the awful news that the show was cancelled, and then it was picked up again, which was excellent.

So I knew that they were hoping I’d come back for this episode, and it was a case of making sure my schedule was clear so I could fit it in. And I got to do it, which was excellent.

Does your reappearance tie up some of the loose ends from series three, do you think?

I guess some people would say yes, and some people would say no – it depends on what people would like to see tied up. People have very strong feelings about various characters and what they want from them. So I hope people enjoy it, and it gives people an idea of why Jenny left, and what she’s doing now, and where she goes from here. I think it’ll tick the boxes for people.

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Obviously, Primeval involves working with CG, and requires spending a lot of time in front of a green screen and pretending to be frightened of invisible monsters. Is that something easy to get used to?

You know what? I think after four series, we kind of have our heads around it now. But in the beginning, it was quite new to all of us, but now we’re quite relaxed about it, because you always have to be on your toes when you first do CG work, but we definitely have more familiarity with it now.

The two characters you’ve played in Primeval, Claudia and Jenny, are obviously quite different. Was it difficult to switch between them in the way you did?

Initially it was. Coming back as Jenny in series two was the hardest part, because, having worked for months and months with all these characters, it was really hard to come back in series two and pretend that I didn’t know any of them – especially Douglas.

As series two went on to series three, I found the character more easy to get into. Although it still surprises me that people have such affection for Claudia. I still get asked about her all the time, and it’s funny, because if I get stopped in the street, for any reason, about Primeval, people always say, “You play Claudia Brown!” Actually, even my own father prefers Claudia, which is funny, because she was only in one series.

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I’ve done three series now as Jenny. They’re different people. But one of the most surprising things I read on the web about what people think of me, is that they say, “Jenny looks a lot like Claudia now.” Well, I am the same actress! [Laughs] I’m always going to look a little bit like Claudia.

Which is more fun to play?

I loved playing Claudia because it was my first character in the show, and I loved her storyline. She was a lovely girl. Jenny was more dynamic, so that was really interesting to play. I couldn’t really choose between them – I think they both have redeeming qualities.

Your characters have all had an advisory, management kind of role in the show – do you think they got enough time out in the field, getting their hands dirty?

I loved doing all that. In series three, Jenny found herself in charge of the team, and very much out in the field. I absolutely loved that, and it was in the last episode of series three where I was fighting the fungus creatures with a fire extinguisher. I loved doing that, and it made me realise I was so much fun being out with the gang.

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Do you have a favourite creature in the show?

I loved the T-Rex, just because it was so big and looked fabulous against the aircraft. I loved the dodos in series one. I remember in our first ever episode, I loved those creature in there. I remember seeing them for the first time, when we were halfway shooting, and we saw the creatures, we were gob smacked.

You’ve obviously worked in the UK and the US. You worked on a show called The Philanthropist for CBS?

I did, yes. I also just did the Frost Giant in the States as well, alongside Dean Cain, which was really interesting. Lots of CG monsters again!

So is there a big difference between the way UK and US shows are produced?

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All the obvious kinds of things that come from having more money and people. That’s the biggest thing. You’re working to the same formula – just different accents! It’s not hugely different. It’s just the financial side.

Does the extra money necessarily make things easier, though?

I think when there’s more budget to play with, you can be more creative.

On the subject of money, how did you feel when ITV cancelled Primeval?

I was so sad, I really was. I felt like, although I understood the reasons behind it – it wasn’t for a lack of love, or anything like that – it still had such a lot to offer. I wasn’t surprised when various production companies came to its rescue, because we have such a global audience now – Primeval’s recognised all over the world. So when people started to rally round I wasn’t at all surprised. It’s really good to keep it going.

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I understand your appearance in the next episode is a one off, but if the chance arose, would you be happy to become a full-time member of the team again?

I don’t know how to answer that. My heart would say, “Gosh, absolutely” – the show’s been such a huge part of my life, both professionally and socially. But now I’ve got a family, I love that we all get to see each other. But I always say that, I’ve had such a wonderful relationship with the writers, if they call me, I’ll always pick up the phone for Primeval. So, I guess, never say never.

What can we expect from episode six? Do you get involved with a lot of action scenes and monsters?

Yeah. I’m trying to get married in this episode, but naturally, that was never going to be easy, because I’m a Primeval character. So yes, the wedding is rudely interrupted, somewhat.  Much to my future husband’s despair and surprise, I’m quite good with the old fighting dinosaurs. He knows nothing about what I used to do in the past.

At the beginning, when I bump into Abby and Connor, I’m desperately trying to let them know in a short space and time, that I haven’t told him anything. So they’re terribly shady about my past. But gradually, my future husband comes to realise that there’s more than meets the eye.

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With the popularity of Primeval – and it’s into its fourth series now, with no sign of slowing down – the natural progression, perhaps would be a Primeval film…

That’s been talked about – talked about a lot. I remember having a discussion with Adrian two years ago, about where a film might go. But the script has to be written and approved. But I think that would be fantastic, and they should definitely do it. All that stuff’s beyond my control. It’s up to the higher powers.

But you’ve not heard any rumours of a movie going ahead?

Not in the near future.

We can but hope! So what’s next for you, following your Primeval appearance?

I’m currently making a guest appearance in New Tricks for the BBC. But also I’ve co-written a comedy drama called The Hen Do with Olivia Poulet,  who was in The Thick Of It. We’re casting at the moment. We’ve just signed up Adam Garcia and also, a bit of a coup, we’ve attached Mischa Barton, which is very exciting to bring her to British television. It’s really exciting!

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Lucy Brown, thank you very much!

Primeval series four, episode six airs this Saturday on ITV1 at 19:20. Many thanks to Rob Mclaughlin for his questions for Lucy.

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