Jenny Lewis makes a surprise return to Primeval this week, but it’s not a planned reunion with the gang and it does involve Hyaenadons. We caught up with veteran Primeval star Lucy Brown, and she teased some of the details of Saturday’s episode. She also talked to us about how it feels to be returning to the show and tells us about an exciting upcoming project of her own – read on for more!
You’re returning to Primeval on Saturday night as Jenny Lewis. Do you want to give our readers some detail about how she returns to the show?
Sure. Well, the team kind of stumble upon her. It’s not an organised meet-up. It literally is a case of an anomaly opens, the team go and follow it, and it just so happens to be where Jenny is. And being a Primeval character if you’re caught in the Primeval web you can run but you can’t hide! It’s going to follow you.
Basically, they’ve walked into one of the most important days of her life, it’s the day before she gets married. We’re in a stately home out in the countryside and the wedding planner has gone missing, so instinctively Jenny’s gone to have a look. Old habits die hard, as she says. Meanwhile, the team have secretly arrived and Connor is also tracking down in the same area of the stately home’s basement and they literally run slap bang into each other. It’s like “Oh my God, what are you doing here?”
Is there any awkwardness when Abby and Connor discover they weren’t invited to the wedding?
It’s touched upon, but it’s very well glossed over. But when they see each other – apart from the shock of first meeting – of course they’re invited along. It becomes tricky though, because Jenny hasn’t been that truthful with the man she’s going to marry and she hasn’t revealed a lot about what she’s done in her past. She’s kind of fabricated, made up where she’s been. So when these guys arrive, she’s giving them the eye not to say anything!
What do you think motivated Jenny to cover up her past to her future husband?
Well, everybody at the ARC signs their secrecy agreement, and the general public can’t know about this. And Jenny works in PR and she was brought into the ARC to make sure the public didn’t know – and how would you respond if someone you were in a relationship with told you all that? The relationship probably wouldn’t survive! They’d probably think you were a bit cuckoo!
My experience with Primeval really only starts from series 3 – but that’s where your character left. Can you remind us what happened there?
Well Cutter died and he’s a huge part of it, because I think Jenny’s decision to leave was obviously based on his death. Also, back in Series 1 all these people came together because they had some kind of interest – like Abby had worked with animals before, and Connor had a great mind for all this and Jenny was employed at the ARC because of the PR thing. She didn’t really come from any other area. I think when Cutter died she wanted to go back to her life’s work and maintain some normalcy.
Like “This was my dream job, this is what I wanted and now its gone way beyond what I thought it would be.” And in this episode, that’s what the ARC guys walk back into.
When you were leaving Primeval in Series 3, the show had changed so much – there was a new leading man in Jason Flemyng and Laila Rouass…
How many of the original cast are still there?
Well, Andrew, Hannah and Ben. That’s it! It’s got a bit of a body count, Primeval!
What was it like walking back into that?
Well, most of my scenes in this coming episode are really with Andrew and Hannah. It felt in some ways although there’s been a time gap – because we’ve been working together pretty much solidly for the past three or four years, we’ve got a shorthand with each other. And we’re really good friends off-screen as well. I think coming back on set and doing dialogue with them, everything feels as if you haven’t really been away. It’s very easy because we know each other so well and we know these characters so well.
Initially on the show, you were a character called Claudia Brown. But due to a bit of ill-advised messing with history, you were ‘reborn’ as Jenny Lewis. The characters looked identical, but Jenny was a different person. Was that something the writers had planned for?
I think so. It’s probably a question for Adrian and Tim, but the way it happened for me was we were filming series 1 and there was no real clue as to what would happen next. And it was just at the end of shooting series 1 and before it went on air that Adrian and Tim called me and said “we’re thinking of bringing you back, but the whole thing’s changed…you’re going to be a different person.” This doesn’t happen a lot!
It was a real rollercoaster ride and a real privilege to be able to play two different characters on the show. All the other characters – Andrew, Hannah, Ben – they had to meet me again and to not recognise me, not be familiar with me. Jenny was someone they’d never met before. It was difficult for all of us, but exciting to play.
Are you familiar with the story that Series 5 will be the end of Primeval?
There’s always so much speculation floating around, and I don’t think anyone has the answer to that at all. There isn’t one at the moment. I’d hate to think it was the end, I really would.
That brings me to the hypothetical question – would you be willing to return on a more regular basis?
Again, it’s very hard to answer because it totally depends on where the show’s going, if there’s room for her with this new cast. What I always say, speaking from my heart and personally, I’ve a wonderful relationship with Adrian Hodges and Tim Haines. I always have had. And I always said to them when I left that’s always pick up the phone to them. If we can make it work, then I’m there.
Primeval’s been a big part of my professional life, and now my social life because these people have become very good friends of mine. I think that door is always open and I love working with them all. So if it can work, I’ll always try to be there.
Primeval has a really avid fanbase – do you still get recognised by fans in the street?
Yes, it’s usually on the cliffhangers though. Like at the end of Series 1 I had people coming up to me to ask if Claudia was dead. And when I left in Series 3 they were asking if that was the end for Jenny. People do get excited with the big cliffhangers, especially if they’re having to wait for another six months before the next season happens.
I think that’s the thing that’s wonderful about Primeval. Everybody really seems to care about the show and the characters in it. I’m always greeted by people very warmly.
Are you surprised by the level of knowledge the viewers have about dinosaurs and Primeval?
A couple of years ago we went to one of these Expo events where we did a panel and signed autographs. It’s just amazing the amount of knowledge people had and how much they’d invested in these characters and their backstories and their future stories. It was wonderful.
You sort of forget about that, because you’re on set filming it. But there are people out there who love the show and really take the time to get to know everything.
I’m finding Primeval pretty gory this year – were there always so many severed limbs?
Well, to be honest Series 1 was pretty gory. Series 2 less so and in Series 3 it mostly happened off-screen. But I’m glad it’s returning to that, because it gives the show an edge.
Finally, besides Primeval what else are you working on at the moment?
Currently I’m doing a guest spot for New Tricks for the BBC. I’m doing that right now.
I’ve just written a two-part comedy drama with my writing partner Olivia Poulet (who stars in The Thick Of It). We’re in the middle of casting and Caveman Films are our producers and Andy Serkis (aka Gollum) is our executive and John Cavendish (Bridget Jones). We’re attaching a major cast at the moment – we’ve attached Adam Garcia and just before Christmas we attached Mischa Barton, which is fantastic!
It’s exciting times, exciting to see things happening from the other side of the table as well. I give full credit to Adrian (Hodges) and the writers and creators of these shows now because I’m starting to understand it all a little better.
It’s called The Hen Do and it’s about a hen do that goes awry in Ibiza amongst other places. It’s going to be a fun comedy drama!
A big thanks to ITV for setting up the interview and Lucy Brown for a wonderfully candid chat!