Primeval series 4: Interview with Ben Miller – James Lester

by Lisa McGarry

What does series four hold for Lester?

For Lester it’s a complete change of regime. He’s used to ruling the roost, but now he’s playing second fiddle. Basically, a man who doesn’t suffer fools gladly is made to do someone else’s bidding. This obviously doesn’t go down very well at all, so that’s really fun to play because he’s more sarcastic and bitter than ever before.

The ARC was destroyed in series three, but now he has a completely new leader, team and HQ. How does Lester deal with that?

When we rejoin them we meet them quite a way down the line. So there’s a whole new ARC and a centre of communications, and this new boss who’s kind of like Richard Branson. This guy thinks there’s quite a bit of money in anomalies and has decided to pay for this huge facility which is a much bigger place than the previous ARC. But at the same time Lester’s in this weird position. Lester is basically a civil servant, but now he’s in this awkward place where he’s not in charge anymore. He gets told what to do, and he can’t stand it. Not only that, Philip is personable and really smart and a difficult person to manipulate, so Lester can’t get any purchase although he desperately tries to.

Does this mean Lester exists even more in the shadows, or will he see some action?

You’ll never see Lester outside getting his shoes dirty; he’s just not the type of man who ever enjoys going out in the field. I think he’s a big presence in the series, but he’s power sharing now. Like a kind of coalition. I have to say that in the relationship he’s very much the Clegg and not the Cameron.

Has series four moved on a long way from series three?

Oh yes there’s a whole new team, there’s a whole new network of relationships and definitely a whole lot more going on. TV is really all about the survival of the fittest and, if you can get another series, you get to learn about everything that went before. What I’ve really loved about this series is that the action stuff is really well mixed in with comedy and drama, and it’s a classic family TV mix. There are genuinely edgy moments. I still wouldn’t let my four-year-old son watch this, it’s much too scary.

Related: , ,