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Exclusive interview with Afterlife's Andrew Lincoln

Q: What attracted you to the role of Robert in Afterlife?
A: I knew I wanted to be involved in the series within reading the first five pages of the script. The writing by Stephen Volk was stunning, shocking and bold, and I found the subject matter very compelling. I also found the relationship between the two central characters fascinating - the fact that they are both dealing with grief, and are quite broken people. Their relationship grows throughout the series, and it becomes quiet cathartic in the way they help each other towards healing. From reading the initial scripts, I was attracted to the slow burning, atmospheric nature of the series, and the sombreness appealed to my sentiments.

Q: Have you worked with Lesley Sharpe previously?
A: No. That was one of the things that attracted me to the role. Lesley was already attached to the project when I received the scripts. I have a great amount of respect for her previous work. A number of my friends have worked with her previously and said what a great actress she is to work with.

Q: What are your feelings towards psychics and the afterlife?
A: I am more in Robert's camp and (I am) fairly sceptical. I have fairly dogmatic beliefs. However, the brain is a hugely untapped resource and I think you need to leave yourself open to possibilities.

Q: What sort of research did you do for the role?
A: I met with a respected medium called Gordon Smith and read a lot of his work. Lesley went to one of his medium sessions, which she said was fascinating and very useful to her role, but I preferred a more academic approach in keeping with the character.

Q: What is the key to making stories like this ring true for the viewer?
A: Great writing is the key. Stephen Volk has done a huge amount of research into the genre, which is reflected in his writing and this goes a long way to making it believable. The stories revolve around a believer and a non-believer, so it represents both views which viewers can identify with. The series deals with a central theme of grief which affects both the central characters, as well as addressing the issues that surround the afterlife. The actors worked hard at making it real, we wanted to make it feel spooky, and a key part of this is making people question if Lesley's character is deluded. Part of the appeal of the show to me, and what makes it so compelling, is to do with Alison's perception of events. Events are played out the way she sees them - the fact she is wrestling with her "gift" and how she tries to live with it.

Q: Is a series that is thrilling or frightening for the viewer ever frightening for the cast and crew when you are filming?
The series builds up in terms of suspense and by episode six it really cranks up. It took us a week to shoot episode six, and by the end of that particular shoot we all felt pretty uncomfortable, I don't want to give too much away you will have to watch it, but we all felt off-centre after shooting that episode.

Q: You have acted in film and television - do you have a preference for one or the other?
A: What appeals to me are good scripts, weather they be film, TV or theatre. I have been very lucky as, every 18 months or so, something reveals itself that is exciting and compelling and is excellently written. This is the first primetime show I have done, and (it) is something new for me in terms of the character and the genre. It is something I am very proud to have been involved with.

Q: What else have you been working on?
A: I have just finished shooting three films. A 1940's war time drama called These Foolish Things. A French film, shot entirely in French which was quite a challenge, I thought I was a competent French speaker but I felt a bit like I was on a series of Faking It at some points during filming! The other film I have just finished shooting is called Scenes of a Sexual Nature. It was written by a friend of mine, and was done on a very tight budget, but is another example of excellent writing. It attracted other great actors such as Hugh Bonneville, Ewan McGregor and Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda)

Q: This Life was a cult series that helped launch your career; do you ever see any of the other members of the cast?
Jack Davenport, who played Miles, is one of my best friends. I introduced him to his wife and was best man at his wedding so I see him all the time. I talk to Daniella Nardini (Anna) a fair bit. The whole cast met up for the first time about six weeks ago which was great. It was like meeting up with old university friends. We have all gone on to other things so it was good to catch up.