Primeval series 4: Interview with Alexander Siddig

You’re new to Primeval with a brand new character. What can you tell us about Philip?

Philip is one of those guys who donates loads of money to a political party and gets a peerage or something. He’s clearly really close to the political powers-that-be, so he’s their representative on Earth. But he’s an entrepreneur; a scientific entrepreneur to be exact. He’s invented loads of stuff and become a billionaire as a result. He sees the ARC as his new playground. And he’s coming to play.

How does he rule the ARC?

It’s his toy. He’s a consummate politician and he’s excellent with people. Well, he thinks he is. He’s forever manipulating people, albeit in a benign way, to get them to do what he wants.

How do the established members of the ARC react to him?

Ben Miller’s character is quietly tolerant of him, because there’s a touch of the Labrador about Lester. Philip sees him as a domesticated animal, so he kind of eats him for lunch. Obviously Connor is a little bit different and Philip targets him and starts to groom him. He realises how important Connor could be, and he sees him as kind of a genius. Philip really starts to encourage him and sees him as a real hope for the future. Of course, Abby is pretty annoyed about that. I don’t think Philip really knows why and maybe it’s because he’s taken her boyfriend away, or maybe she thinks his suits are too well pressed.

Were you a fan of Primeval before you got the part?

I didn’t watch it, but that’s not too unusual because I don’t watch much TV. I tend to watch DVD box-sets. I’ve known Adrian Hodges for a few years though, and I’ve always congratulated him on what has become a hit show. I knew how big it was, and kids at my son’s school have told me that they’re excited by the show, especially since I got the part! And that’s in America. So my son’s got some kudos from his dad doing something cool. He’s loving that!

You are a Star Trek alumni. Are you pleased to be back on genre TV? Do you tend to gravitate towards it?

I’ve been sort of avoiding it for a long time, so this is just like coming home. I grew up on genre sets and that audience is one I know and love. We get on well. I’m very comfortable on genre TV, and I just love the inventiveness. The dashing around from reality to heightened reality. You can also do fun things with characters, and stuff you couldn’t do on kitchen sink TV.

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