Percelle Ascott (‘Wizards vs Aliens’) interview

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Out on DVD on 31 December, CBBC’s Wizards Vs Aliens is the thrilling new action adventure drama from Russell T Davies (Doctor Who) and Phil Ford (The Sarah Jane Adventures), starring Percelle Ascott as Benny.

> Order Series 1 on DVD on Amazon.

CultBox caught up with Percelle this week for a chat…

How did you get involved in Wizards Vs Aliens?

“It all started back in January when I auditioned. I wasn’t too familiar with the names behind it [creators Russell T Davies and Phil Ford] but when I found out about what they’d done before, like Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures, it spoke volumes. I knew I had to get involved.”

Were you aware of their previous work?

“When I was younger I watched Doctor Who with David Tennant. I loved Noel [Clarke, who played Rose’s “boyfriend” Mickey Smith] and his journey as a character. It was brilliant; Noel was a real inspiration to me when it came to acting. And The Sarah Jane Adventures was massive, all my family loved it.”

Was that success intimidating for you?

“Absolutely. When I was chatting with Scott [Haran, who plays wizard Tom Clarke] we were like, “No pressure then!” [Laughs] It was a challenge but it was a challenge we wanted to live up to and keep.”

How’s the reaction been since the series has aired?

“Well, I don’t get stopped in the street! [Laughs] Because I look quite different to Benny, like I don’t wear glasses, I don’t get recognised much outside the show. I’m not in the limelight. My young cousins love it and the reaction, from what I’ve seen, is very positive. There’s a great vibe around the show.”

Were you surprised at how dramatic and emotional the show got?

“It wasn’t a big surprise. Early on they set up the end, in episode two when Tom chats about his mother and we see her picture. I love the series’ tone; the change is a great balance.

“Addressing morals and things like that is the right thing to do and it’s beneficial to tap in to these areas. It’s entertaining, yes, but talking about morals and relationships – it’s nice we can do it. It’s great that everyone involved can explore the themes delicately.”

Wizards Vs Aliens has a number of memorable and imaginative sets, what one is your favourite?

“Benny’s shed – that’s where he’s in his element. He’s really himself and away from his parents. They have no idea what’s going on, with his television and stuff. It’s a side to him they don’t know about, where he gets to do his crazy experiments! It’s his world.”

And the special effects; were you impressed?

“Amazing! Blew me away when I first saw it. Completely surpassed my expectations. What you see on television you could see on the big screen, it’s that good. That’s what we aim for everywhere in the show, to be the best we can.”

How is Series 2 coming along?

“Not much in terms of my involvement or info. Pre-production has started but I know there’ll be challenging storylines coming my way!”

Do you think we will see more of Benny’s parents?

“I hope so, yeah! Everyone really liked my parents – Don [Gilet] and Nina [Sosanya] are brilliant. They have amazing chemistry and they bring so much. So funny. It’s what Wizards Vs Aliens is all about!”

What would you like to see happen in Wizards Vs Aliens?

“Iā€™d love to put Benny in a challenging situation or cracking a scientific code. Like in ‘Fall of the Nekross’, it was great because he was out of his comfort zone. I hope there’s more like that.”

‘Fall of the Nekross’, was that your favourite story?

“Yeah. In terms of Benny and what he has to do. There was a lot of meat there to get my teeth in to. Like the kitchen scene where I realise that I’ve sentenced the Nekross to die by mistake. And then become a sort of enemy of Ursula and Tom. A lot of strong performances from everyone, it was brilliant.”

And a favourite moment?

“[Laughs] Episode 4 with Grazlax. When we’ve defeated them we got splattered with goo but we weren’t quite ready – you can see it on our faces. We had all these cannons pointed at us and all the crew knew what was about to happen but we had no idea. [Laughs] It was Scott’s birthday too!”

How do you think Wizards Vs Aliens compares with other shows?

“Very well. Its themes are sort of unique, it’s mystical and science. Introducing kids to these different elements is great and what it’s all about. Being part of the show and CBBC with things like Young Dracula and Wolfblood feels amazing. I watch these shows; it’s amazing to be a part of it. Children’s shows feel like they’ve climbed up high in terms of quality and all these shows have a responsibly to maintain it.”

Would you like to see a crossover with another television show?

“I think we could with any show! Because of its universe, you can add any elements – it’s open for anything! Likewise, we could visit any show too.”

A Doctor Who crossover?

“[Laughs] I don’t know. I like the fact that Wizards Vs Aliens is different to The Sarah Jane Adventures and exists in a different world. We reference Star Wars, Narnia and Harry Potter so who knows if we could mention it. It’s up to Russell [T Davies] and Phil [Ford].

“It’s funny when we’re in the canteen ‘cos me and Scott [Haran] would see Matt Smith and we’d have to play it cool. It’s brilliant that everything’s going on there [Roath Lock, where Doctor Who and Wizards Vs Aliens are filmed]. There’s a tension and rivalry that make you want to be the best you can.”

Thanks very much Percelle.

“My pleasure!”

> Order Series 1 on DVD on Amazon.

What was your favourite episode of Wizards vs Aliens? Let us know below…

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