Ben Aldridge stars in BBC One’s army drama Our Girl as Captain James, currently airing at 9pm on Sunday nights on BBC One.
Written by Tony Grounds, the new five-part season follows last year’s one-off single drama, featuring EastEnders actress Lacey Turner as East London girl Molly Dawes, now a soldier in the Royal Army Medical Corps.
Here Ben chats about playing Captain James, filming in South Africa and training for the role…
Who is Captain James?
“Captain James is the commanding officer of the platoon, Two Section, which is Molly’s section. He’s an interesting mix of authority and fun. He has quite a laissez-faire attitude towards leadership at times.
“He’s equally happy in the presence of his lads and having a laugh but then, when it calls for it, snapping into his role as the man in charge. It’s a role he takes very seriously and he loves the army. It’s his fourth tour and he’s extremely experienced. He fits into the army more than he probably feels he fits into civilian life.”
Captain James has a hard job of keeping a colourful bunch of characters in line – did you enjoy playing him?
“Yes, I’ve not played such an authorative part before in a modern piece and it was an interesting challenge to be the person in charge. The scenes with Two Section are my favourite scenes to be part of, messing about with them.
“It’s a brilliant part and I really enjoyed playing it because it’s got both sides to it. It’s got the humour and the fun but it has a complete contrast. It’s been very varied and that was exciting to play.”
He’s quite tough on Molly at first. How do his views towards her change over the season?
“I think he really doubts her and gives her a hard time as he wants her to prove herself. To have someone new come into the group after six months training together is quite a scary prospect for him. Her inexperience is worrying for him and he misinterprets her cockiness and relaxed attitude when she’s actually just trying to fit in and have fun.
“He really tests her and I think he’s pretty harsh on her but he puts his duty to his men first beyond anything. He has in past tours lost men, such as Smurf’s brother, so he has the added pressure and fear of that ever happening again.”
James is very close to Smurf who also has feelings for Molly. How does this affect their relationship?
“It’s a real moment of conflict for James because he’s fighting against his desires and what he wants. He’s fighting against that and wanting to be a true professional which means he wouldn’t get involved with her whatsoever or act beyond the thought of being with her. I think it clouds his judgement, which is exactly what he’s afraid of and why he wants to avoid getting involved with her. It’s his biggest conflict in the drama.”
How was filming in South Africa?
“South Africa is an amazing country. It’s beautiful as a place. We were in some stunning locations, with mountains, lagoons and lakes. It was action-packed but brilliant, I really enjoyed it.”
How much training did you do together before filming?
“Training was pretty intense. It was a bootcamp in military lifestyle, in weapons training, in how to say certain things, hold certain things. We had huge amounts of vocabulary that we had to learn that was chucked at us.
“We had to learn about the chain of command. They really were trying to indoctrinate us into the way of military life which they did really quickly and, I hope, successfully. I hope that shows in what we’ve produced.”
Watch the trailer…
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