Foyle's War - Series 2: Among the Few

Interviews with the Guest Cast - Press pack; October 29, 2003

Mark Umbers plays Rex Talbot
David Troughton plays Michael Bennett
David Ryall plays George Henderson
Selina Cadell plays Pamela Bennett
Lisa Kay plays Connie Dewar
Christina Cole plays Violet Davies

Mark Umbers plays Rex Talbot

Mark Umbers loved playing air force hero Rex Talbot - even though his plane never left the ground.

"I spent a lot of time in the Spitfire, which was so great. I had to run into the cockpit for a scramble in my helmet and mouthpiece. It was difficult because I'm about three feet too tall. We have skies projected on to a screen and it looks like I am flying. My dream is to go up in one.

"My father is obsessed with Spitfires and I gave him a flight up in one as a present for his 60th birthday. He was dead jealous that I was going to be working in one and I'm sure he'll be watching the episode closely. He also gave me lots of research and information about the war."

Mark describes Rex as a 1940s version of alpha male.

"He is an ace pilot, one of a very brave group of men who believe in old fashioned values and stick up for each other. He has a beautiful girlfriend and appears to be pretty conventional.

"Rex flies with Andrew Foyle and they are old school friends. He always defends Andrew and in one scene gets involved in a brawl. I was told to run into the middle of the bar, flatten Damian O'Hare and then spin around and pull off this guy who was punching Julian Ovenden. It was great.

"I loved playing Rex and I was determined not to give anything away. I got to wear the original uniform, complete with mothballs. When the make-up artists gave us all a severe parting, we looked like our grandfathers!"

As well as 'flying', Mark also had to dance.

"I had to learn the foxtrot, but I'd just done a play called The Vortex at the Donmar Warehouse, where I had been foxtrotting for four months so it was ingrained in my brain. I moved from the 1920s in The Vortex to the 1940s for Foyle's War."

Twenty-nine-year-old Mark studied Classics at Oxford University and portrayed the role of Freddie Eynsford-Hill in the National Theatre and West End production of My Fair Lady. His other television credits include Midsomer Murders, The Merchant of Venice, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Silent Witness and The Student Prince.

"I also have an agent in America and I am going out to Los Angeles for a holiday and a bit of work - I'd just like to see what it's like out there."

David Troughton plays Michael Bennett

David Troughton describes Michael Bennett, his character in Foyle's War, as a bully.

"Michael is officious and self-opinionated. He is a bully to his wife and he can't keep his hands off the ladies - although he wouldn't do anything and couldn't hurt a fly. He has had a bit of a sad life and is unfulfilled."

Bennett is the depot manager of the fuel depot, where Sam (Honeysuckle Weeks) is sent undercover.

"He's probably ex-army and enjoys being master of his domain. He's a big fish in a little sea. It was a great cast, I know Michael Kitchen and Selina Cadell who played my wife and I enjoyed working with them both."

As well as Foyle's War, David stars in the forthcoming BBC drama Hearts of Gold.

"It's a love story set in a poor mining village in the 30s and I play Evan Powell, with Geraldine James as my wife. The mine is on strike for better conditions and my daughter falls in love with a doctor, so there is a class barrier as well as a financial one."

David comes from an acting dynasty - his father Patrick was the second Dr Who, while his nephew Harry Melling appears in the Harry Potter films.

"My son Jim has been chosen to play cricket for England and my son Sam played a policeman in the first series of Foyle's War. William, who's 18, also looks like he might be an actor. I'm just pleased that all my boys are doing things they want to do."

David's other credits include Madame Bovary, Trevor's World of Sport, Born and Bred, The Last Detective, Cider With Rosie and Undercover Heart.

David Ryall plays George Henderson

Foyle's War brought back memories of growing up in the war for David Ryall.

"I was a tiny boy at the time of the war. I remember the concrete blocks and barbed wire and a minefield near us but it all seemed quite normal. There was a pang of fear but being seven or eight we were quite protected.

"One day I asked my mother what she would do if the Germans invaded because we lived on the Suffolk coast. She said she would make them a cup of tea first - so I wasn't too worried about the real enormity of war!"

David plays George Henderson, who tells a shocked Connie (Lisa Kay) that she is pregnant. "Henderson is a family doctor in a country practice and has to work within all the restrictions of wartime. He is very abrupt with Connie and says she ought to be married and wants to know if the father will be standing by her. That wouldn't come up today."

David has extensive credits on both stage and screen. His television work includes Bertie and Elizabeth, Happy Birthday Shakespeare, Oliver Twist, In The Red, Plotlands, Jake's Progress, Goodnight Sweetheart and To Play The King.

His film credits include Restoration, Truly Madly Deeply, Wilt, Empire of the Sun, The Elephant Man, The Russia House and he has just filmed Around The World in 80 Days with Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan. He is currently appearing at the Royal National Theatre in Democracy by Michael Frayn,

Selina Cadell plays Pamela Bennett

Selina Cadell was determined to bring a colourful touch to henpecked wife Pamela Bennett.

"Pamela has been sublimated by an overbearing husband who doesn't listen to her. The marriage has got to a point where she is not listened to or respected and has to watch her husband flirting with endless young girls. It's hurtful because she would have liked the marriage to work.

"Although she appears to be stuck, she is quite feisty underneath. She has a strong centre and still has a good sense of self-esteem. She is very efficient and plotting very wisely. She is more layered than she appears and has a bit of a surprise to her.

"The director and I discussed how we would dress Pamela and we didn't want to put her into a henpecked corner of drabness. We made her quite attractive, which made her husband's behaviour look even worse. Rather than looking buttoned up or like a schoolmistress she appears more real."

Foyle's War comes during a busy year for Selina. "I have been working in the theatre, at the Donmar Warehouse in Sam Mendes' productions of Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya, then we took the plays to Broadway, which was fabulous."

When she's not acting, Selina works with opera singers at the National Opera Studio.

"I teach them how to act because on the whole opera singers have just been taught the music. To perform they have to be taught how to engage with the emotional weight of what they are singing. It's an organic process and I love it because they are so eager to learn. Once they can connect with an aria emotionally, it becomes more natural and less technical.

"I've been doing it for 10 years and I would never give it up. I get to hear international up-and-coming opera singers and the work means I can be selective about my acting roles."

Selina's other credits include My Hero, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Down To Earth, As Time Goes By and Always and Everyone. Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War, The Madness of King George and Prick Up Your Ears are among her film work.

Lisa Kay plays Connie Dewar

Lisa Kay had to learn to dance the foxtrot and drive a fuel lorry in Foyle's War.

"My character Connie is a driver working for the fuel depot. I had to drive a big tanker truck, which was really heavy on the arms with a double clutch. I wore my hair up in a beret and had a boiler suit on. Connie is quite bubbly and ballsy so even though she wears a boiler suit she would cinch in the waist with a leather belt to make her look sexy!

"In one scene we all go dancing in cute 1940s dresses with cap sleeves. Mine was to the knee in pink. We were all taught the foxtrot, which we found quite easy. It was a dance designed so that people could chat each other up - it's not fancy steps, you just clatter round the dance floor and get to know each other."

Adds Lisa: "It was a very young set so there was a good atmosphere. I also got to go on the back of Andrew Foyle's motorbike, so that was great fun."

Connie is dating Rex Talbot (Mark Umbers), another RAF pilot.

"She has a game plan, she wants to marry Rex, her hotshot pilot. In her diary she writes her fantasy that she'll have a double wedding with her friend Violet and Andrew. She's living in a fantasy world because the boys aren't feeling that way.

"She's charming and independent. Dating a Spitfire pilot is like dating a rock star because of the dangers of their lives. But when Connie goes to the doctors and finds out she is pregnant, she is not as sophisticated as she thinks."The look of Foyle's War really appealed to Lisa.

"I researched the period for a Noel Coward play I was in, called Peace In Our Time. It's one of my favourite periods of history because it was so romantic - lovers being torn apart and fighting for their country. I love the dress and even used my own 1940s shoes I got from the play for Connie in Foyle's War.

"I also had my hair dyed brown for the part. I am naturally a blonde but it was fun being a different colour for a bit," she adds.

Lisa's credits include Uncle Silas, Final Demand, Without Motive, Goodbye Mr Steadman, Grafters and the films Bridget Jones' Diary and Supertex, with Maureen Lipman.

Christina Cole plays Violet Davies

Christina Cole enjoyed being transformed into a 1940s glamour girl - with the help of some teabags.

"Violet is very girly and has a sort of Marilyn Monroe look. It took hours to get the look - I had about four sets of rollers in my hair and very red lips. In one of my scenes I have a pair of paint-on tights and we really did use tea stain and eyeliner up the back of my legs!

"It was great to do all that to get into the character. I loved dressing up in the costumes and being surrounded by that era. Girls in the 40s used every scrap of what they had left. It was hard for them, but they wanted to look good. The blonde is me, but my own look is a lot more laid back and casual."

Violet is friends with Connie (Lisa Kay) and is dating Andrew Foyle (Julian Ovenden).

"She is bubbly and innocent and fun-loving. She's a very good friend to Connie but she can be a bit of a madam when she doesn't get her own way with Andrew. She likes to be treated like a lady and loves going out with a pilot. She's got a job as a filing clerk and has her own money - so she's having a ball."

Christina enjoyed working with Michael Kitchen - and going dancing for her role.

"We were taught to foxtrot but it didn't come naturally to me. I really enjoyed it in the end, though, and feel proud that I can foxtrot now.

"I had a scene with Michael when he interrogates me. He doesn't know his son is dating Violet and she speaks before she thinks and digs herself into a huge hole. Michael gave me lots of tips on the language and he was fantastic to work with."

Christina left drama school in 2002 but has already made an impression.

"My first job was What A Girl Wants, a feature film with Colin Firth. I play Clarissa, a snobby, upper class cow, not much different from Violet really. I also play Sarah, the girlfriend to Jasper Carrott's son in All About Me, and I played Juliet at the Welsh National Theatre for Terry Hands. It's great to be getting lots of experience quite quickly."

Christina's other TV roles include The Project and He Knew He Was Right.

With thanks to Shelagh for the publicity material.