The Version Interview... Colin Morgan on BBC One's The Living And The Dead
Somerset 1894. When a pioneering Victorian psychologist and his vivacious young wife are brought back to the family estate after the death of his mother, he is soon faced with one disturbing case after another.
Are all these strange events linked merely by coincidence, or is there something more sinister - more supernatural - going on at Shepzoy?
Tell us about your character, Nathan Appleby
Nathan is very much a man who has suffered and been through a lot. He is adamant that he is going to solve his problems, be that through people, through his work as a psychologist or, as he ends up doing, confronting himself by moving to the house that he grew up in.
Why does he return to Shepzoy House?
He’s not only coming back to inherit the estate, he is reawakening everything that is related to it: his son died there, his mother died there, his wife almost certainly died there too. For him to come back and to try and make a life there is hard.
Describe the relationship between him and Charlotte.
The relationship between Nathan and Charlotte is very much the centre of the drama - it’s the heart and soul of it. They are two people desperately in love and desperately looking for happiness. They can’t possibly comprehend what they are about to take on, or what is going to take on them. What awaits them in Shepzoy, the house that Nathan grew up in, is a cask of the unknown and a fair amount of horror, which is both dramatic and difficult for them to overcome. But essentially it’s a story about a couple whose relationship is put to the test.
It's set at the time of the Industrial Revolution - tell us about that
It’s a time of change and of moving forward. Of traditions not being completely lost, but being smothered a bit, which is unsettling for the people whose livelihood is the land. The new industries and technologies that are coming into play are scary because they do what people do, only better. You get the impression that the land holds trauma, holds pain, and holds memories. Digging it up, unearthing the land itself, gives a feeling of something else being unearthed and unsettled. That is a catalyst for things that happen.
Is Nathan torn between the scientific and supernatural?
He has been educated his whole life to believe that aspects of the supernatural are aspects of the mind, they are delusions that can be very much explained scientifically. To start to see things that challenge that belief is very, very unsettling for him. Nathan begins to experience things both through the locals and himself that put him to the test and force him to really tread the line between the scientific and the supernatural.
What impact does that have on Nathan?
When more and more people are coming to him, and he starts experiencing things himself, he becomes enraptured in the world, very obsessed and very internal. It digs up his demons and one of them is his dead son Gabriel.
What was it like filming The Living And The Dead?
It is a dark series and it was a very challenging but fun shoot. It was very creative and collaborative. We were lucky to be working with such fantastic scripts, which were genuinely very engaging to read. The joy of getting to do projects that are close to your heart and that you feel very passionate and driven about is that when you are on the set filming, you do catch yourself thinking, ‘We’re actually doing it.’
What was it like working with Ashley Pharoah?
Ashley Pharoah has written Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes, which are fantastic shows in themselves, and this again takes things one step further. It’s a show that I feel we haven’t quite seen before.
What can viewers expect from The Living And The Dead?
The Living And The Dead is a blend of horror, love, supernatural, relationships, life, death, losses, grievances, joy.
The Living and the Dead, coming soon to BBC One.