Primeval: Interview with Ciarán McMenamin

by Lisa McGarry

Ciarán McMenamin is Matt Anderson on the new series of Primeval, coming to ITV early in 2011.

Were you a fan of Primeval before you joined the cast?

I hadn’t watched a huge amount of the previous series, but obviously I knew Primeval and the fact that it was a massive show for ITV. I’ve caught up a bit since joining the cast, and it’s been great to see how it’s developed with new characters and creatures since series one. It’s just great to be involved in something which fans are really passionate about and that people will actively sit down to watch every Saturday night.

What can you tell us about your character, Matt?

Matt is a bit of a mystery when he first arrives at the ARC. He clearly knows his stuff when it comes to dealing with the creatures and how to lead his team, but there’s always the feeling there’s more to him than meets the eye. He doesn’t always like sticking to the rules, which ultimately puts him at odds with Becker’s security measures, but Matt is all about putting the mission first, even if it means putting himself at risk. Saying that, he’d never put his team in danger; they can trust him with their lives and know he won’t let them down. He’s calm in the face of danger which makes him the ideal man to lead the ARC into the dangerous territories they’re about to encounter.

Matt heads up a new team at the ARC… what can you tell us about the rest of the new members?

Obviously the disappearance of Danny, Abby and Connor at the end of the last series left some gaps in the ARC’s operation that needed to be filled. Becker is still around as Head of Security, and Lester is still running the ARC day-to-day, but this time around he has Jess Parker, who’s on board as the field coordinator. She runs the anomaly alert operations from her hub within the ARC and she is ultra-efficient and not afraid of putting herself in the firing line. Then there’s the man who hired Matt, Philip Burton, who’s a scientist/businessman who is now funding the ARC’s research into anomalies. He doesn’t have so much to do with the team at first, but later in the series his interest in the anomalies takes over and he can’t help but start asking questions. There’s something about Philip that raises Matt’s suspicions, but it won’t be until the end of the series that he realises quite what that is.

How well does Matt deal with Connor and Abby once they find their way back to the present day?

I think the spectre of Connor and Abby’s disappearance has been around the ARC since Matt joined. They were clearly an essential part of the team, and their absence has a big effect on the others, especially Becker, who blames himself for letting them go. After everything he’s heard, Matt doesn’t believe Abby and Connor are dead, and one of the first things he did as team leader was to promise he’d do everything he could to carry on the search for them. When they arrive back it’s obviously a shock, but Matt is professional and he knows these two have been through hell, wherever they’ve been, but appreciates they aren’t just going to bow out of the ARC. They’re valuable team members and he’s proud to work with them.

Did you feel any extra pressure joining a hugely popular series with well-known characters?

It’s always hard coming into a cast where the team is already established, but everyone here has made me feel so welcome and we all get on really well. Taking on the mantle of team leader is obviously a massive deal, but it’s been a great experience and working with the other guys in the cast has been a blast.

How did you adapt to working so much with special effects? Was it totally different to what you’ve worked on before?

It’s quite different to a lot of other projects I’ve done in the past, and it’s been hard work, but it’s a great skill to learn. On set we work with some of the best special effects guys in the business and the directors are really experienced in working with CGI, so it ends up just becoming part of everyday life.

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