Interview: Annabel Scholey on Sky Atlantic's huge new drama, Britannia.
Set in 43AD, the captivating, anarchic drama follows the Roman army as they return to crush the Celtic heart of Britannia, a mysterious land led by warrior women and powerful Druids who claim to channel the powerful forces of the underworld.
It stars David Morrissey, Kelly Reilly, Zoe Wanamaker, Ian McDiarmid, Annabel Scholey and Mackenzie Crook.
Here, Annabel Scholey tells us more...
Take us back to the beginning of your journey with Britannia, what was your audition like?
Ah good question, well I can’t lie, there wasn’t one! It’s the first thing I’ve not had to audition for. Basically I had worked with Vertigo productions before and one of the creators, Jonathan was a producer on film I did with them and he suggested me. I had also worked with another of the producer’s at The Old Vic. I’m very lucky!
How was the role pitched to you?
It was on the strength of my character, she is such a strong female part to play. I have played a lot of goody two shoes characters and it was very clear that this role was going to be very different to that and so I knew I just had to play her if she’s a nasty piece of work.
I have to ask about the Game of Thrones comparison that is following Britannia around. How similar is it?
You know, it’s not actually similar at all. I think it comes from Britannia being big and bold and quite epic but that’s really where it ends. It’s a flattering comparison because Game of Thrones is so huge. I am wary though, because Game of Thrones is so huge and the fans are so protective of it, so there is an element of risk in a comparison. I really hope Game of Thrones fans give Britannia a go though.
How would you describe Britannia?
It’s very edgy, it’s psychedelic, it’s very Wicker Man in a sense. It’s fresh. It’s great to work on something that is ten episodes long, you can really get stuck into it and explore the character. There’s absolutely no expense spared. We got to film in locations in Bulgaria that the public would never otherwise get to see and it’s so beautiful on screen. There are lots of expensive drone shots!
Sky Atlantic throw everything at their original dramas don’t they?
They so do, it’s fantastic. You see the money on screen, and I can see Britannia running and running so I really do hope there will be more.
Can we expect raunchy scenes and violence?
It’s not a historically accurate show but there’s a sense of it being earthy and there’s a sense of nature so with that it means characters are not fully dressed all the time, so there’s an aspect of that but no there are no gratuitous sex scenes. It feels quite liberating to watch, and yes it can be quite gory and uncomfortable to watch but in a good way. Mackenzie Crook is absolutely brilliant in it.
All episodes are now available, have you seen them all and will you look out for fan responses on social media?
I’ve seen the first five episodes and they’re unreal, I was blown away. It was very tribal when we filmed it, so this is the first time I’ve seen what the other tribes did if that makes sense. The whole piece together is incredible. I don’t look for fan responses, I am on social media but I don’t like reading anything negative so I leave that to other cast members and they can fill me in. I would just say to people give it a go and I think you’ll love it.
Watch all episodes of Britannia now via Sky TV or NOW TV with an entertainment pas.