Adventure series Primeval returns to ITV1 in January for a fourth series, starring Ruth Kearney as Jess Parker.
With Connor, Abby and Danny trapped in the past at the end of Series 3, the ARC has found new recruits to take their place. Unconventional Jess now runs operations from the ARC Control Centre. She is highly efficient and organised, and her work ethic is second to none, though she is human enough to nurse an unrequited crush on Captain Becker.
You play Jess, a new character for Series 4… did you feel any extra pressure joining such a huge series?
“It’s actually my first job out of drama school, so I felt a huge amount of pressure. To join such a huge and established show with such a huge following was a very nerve-wracking experience the first day I came on-set. But my nerves were instantly pacified because it’s such an established show already the crew and cast already knew each other and they were very welcoming. I was probably feeling a bit nervous, so they did their best to make me feel at home. I think before you do anything, especially when it’s such a big first job, I did wonder how I was going to cope. But about a minute before they said action I just went into the character. It was a lovely environment.”
What hit you when you first walked on-set and how you felt when you saw the Primeval set?
“It was definitely an amazing experience. I always imagined TV sets to be like half a wall and the rest cameras and lights and things like that. They used an old factory in Dublin, and when they showed me the new ARC and I was like: ‘Oh my God!’ It was so technical, and there were all these screens around me. They said they were going to leave me there to and figure out how everything worked. I was a bit overwhelmed! But at the same time it was amazing to feel like you were on a real set.”
Tell us about your workstation in the ARC…
“It looks amazing; they’ve done a really great job. My chair, if you can call it that, is on like a platform that allows me to swing and slide up and down. There are three big screens with location details, map coordinates for when I track the guys, there’s CCTV… each one of those screens had a keypad and different controls, and I had to get my head around that quite quickly. It was an incredible set. With some of the controls it looks as though I could take off!”
So tell us about Jess…
“She’s a new member of the team and quite young for the job. She has huge responsibility. She loves getting on with everyone and hearing all the news, but when it comes to the crunch you definitely want her on your team. She holds everything together back in the ARC. She might go out in the field, but whenever an anomaly happens she’s the one that keeps track of everyone. It’s a new position and she’s crucial.”
You can make the character your own then…
“Yeah, it’s great. I’ve been so lucky in that because I got to do a lot of scenes with Lester because we’re both based at the ARC. I’m kind of his everything, his PA, servant… everything. We had some great scenes together, and it was great to work with him.”
You mentioned fashion earlier. Does Jess get to wear some funky clothes?
“Yeah. When I read the part the script said that she likes to wear short skirts and all that kind of stuff, so I had a little bit of an idea of what was in store. But when I got into wardrobe we had so much fun putting her outfits together. It’s not that she’s into high fashion as such as she very definitely has her own fashion going on. I think people look at her and say: ‘what are you wearing!?’ I’m quite different in my own fashion, so it was fun to have the opportunity to wear something completely different.