Foyle's War - Series 2: The Funk Hole

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

Nicholas Farrell plays John Collier
Phoebe Nicholls plays Amanda Reece
Adrian Lukis plays Blake Hardiman
Andrew Lee Potts plays Dan Parker
Caroline Harker plays Jane Hardiman

Nicholas Farrell plays John Collier

Nicholas Farrell was pleased to be reunited with Michael Kitchen in Foyle's War - even though he plays a rival to Foyle."My character John Collier comes down and suspends Foyle from duty on suspicion of sedition. He appears to be a very good detective, an affable man who is ambitious for his career. But he's not all he appears, due to a wartime tragedy of which there must have been many.

"He is an interesting character because he shows initiative and takes a few risks. He doesn't get on well with Sam and sends her back to her old job in the mechanised transport division. Although he likes Milner, he is surprised and disappointed when the sergeant goes behind his back to talk to Foyle.

"I worked with Michael in To Play The King. He played the Prince and I was his private secretary so we worked quite closely. I really admire him and think he's one of the best actors of his generation. I like to think that we got on well - we talked all the scenes through beforehand, particularly the tough ones, so that we were coming from the same aeroplane."

Nicholas also enjoyed the period clothing.

"I wore double breasted suits, all browns, light and dark. They were good period colours and a contrast with what Michael was wearing. I love that period and the costume, it's a flattering style for men. I also loved the house, Chilworth Manor near Guildford, where we filmed. They had fantastic gardens and we were there in the heatwave - it was as nice a place as you could wish to be in 85 degrees!"

Nicholas is back to the 21st century for his next two roles.

"I play a health minister in Absolute Power - a man who claims to be urban fox watching at two in the morning. It's good fun and most of my scenes are with Stephen Fry. Of course, playing a cabinet minister touting on the heath has absolutely no connection to anyone in real life.

"I'm also in Reversals for ITV1, playing the head of the medical school in Manchester who finds himself falling in lust with the woman doctor who comes to see him - but unfortunately this is really Marc Warren in drag!"

His other TV credits include Rockface, Spooks, The Jury, Sex Chips & Rock'n'Roll, Sharpe, Bramwell, The Riff Raff Element and Lipstick On Your Collar, and he has appeared in the films Charlotte Grey, Pearl Harbor, Hamlet, In The Bleak Midwinter and Chariots of Fire.

Phoebe Nicholls plays Amanda Reece

Phoebe Nicholls had to resort to some rather drastic measures to encourage her canine co-star to perform in Foyle's War. I had to work with a dog, who is supposed to run into me in the scene. But it was one of the hottest days of the year and I was in full period dress and we had to keep redoing it because the dog wouldn't do the right thing. In the end, I had to clutch some rather smelly cheese in 100 degree heat to make him come to me!"

Phoebe plays Amanda Reece, a sharp-tongued journalist who is spending the war at Brookfield Court - a 'funk hole' hideaway for the rich.

"Amanda is great, she is completely off the wall. She is eccentric and slightly mad and I really enjoyed playing her, even though she is very selfish by hiding away during the war. I worked closely with the make-up designer to give her a slightly eccentric look and the costume designer gave me some wonderful clothes.

"I have done masses of costume drama but it was great to spend the summer in Chilworth Manor, an incredible house near Guildford," adds Phoebe.

In real life, Phoebe is married to the director Charles Sturridge, whom she met while he was directing her in Brideshead Revisited.

"I have three children now, which keeps me busy, and, although I've always been careful about work, I do what takes my fancy. I've had a very busy year - I'm playing an MI6 agent in Prime Suspect and I've also got a part in Hawking, the BBC film about Stephen Hawking."

Phoebe's other credits include Midsomer Murders, Gulliver's Travels, Second Sight, Shackleton and Drowning in the Shallow End on television, and the films Maurice, Heart of Darkness and Fairy Tale - A True Story.

Adrian Lukis plays Blake Hardiman

Adrian Lukis had to learn to play tennis for his role in Foyle's War.

"My character Blake Hardiman is always playing tennis so I had to have a crash course. We went to a club in Barnes but all our finer techniques went to waste - we were just trying to get the ball over the net.

"For the tennis sequences I had to wear a cream V-neck sweater, cream shirt and long cream trousers with braces. It was in the heat wave and we were playing on an unrolled court, so the ball wouldn't bounce in the right way. It was hard to make us look like good tennis players and I did sweat a bit that day!"

Blake and his wife Jane (Caroline Harker) are spending the war in a 'funk hole'.

"Blake has somehow managed to get out of fighting and by pulling some strings has landed up spending the war in a country guest house. He doesn't think he should do his bit to protect king and country, he wants to sit out the war and see if he can capitalise on it while others are doing the hard work. He spends most of his time trying to persuade a Jewish financier to go into partnership with him to buy up cotton mills - which is hardly the Blitz spirit.

"I played him as someone who thinks he is smarter than anyone else and yet he always get the joke a few minutes late. Although the other characters see through him, he thinks he can sit at the top table and sound off his opinions."

Adds Adrian: "I loved the first series of Foyle's War, so I jumped at the chance to be in it. I had worked with Caroline's sister Susannah on Pride and Prejudice, and we just laughed non-stop and had such good fun."

Adrian recently appeared opposite Niamh Cusack in ITV1's Too Good To Be True and is filming a role as a successful right-wing political novelist in Absolute Power for the BBC.

"I don't often play the good guys or conventional types but I like playing men who are slightly damaged or have an edge," he says.

Adrian's other credits for television include Peak Practice, Prime Suspect IV, Down to Earth, Doc Martin, The Hunt and Back Home.

Andrew Lee Potts plays Dan Parker

Andrew Lee Potts was delighted to be out of soldier's uniform in Foyle's War.

"I have had the Second World War coming out of my ears. I did Night Flight with Christopher Plummer, playing an RAF gunner, and I was a member of Hitler Youth in the film The Bunker, while in Band of Brothers I blew my face off with my own gun.

"I've been trained to use nearly every type of weapon so Foyle's War was a nice spin because I wasn't playing a soldier. There is a lot around about the war at the moment. I think it's because our future looks uneasy and people like to look back 50 years and see that something good was achieved."

Andrew plays Dan Parker, a labourer who helps out at Brookfield Court guesthouse.

"Dan is not someone I would choose to hang out with. He grafts and doesn't feel he gets enough for what he puts in. He has a bit of heart, but after one of his friends dies, he turns into a nasty piece of work.

"My hair was Brylcreemed down with a neat side parting. But I have a habit of having mad hair so this was very normal for me. I also had to wear really thick itchy trousers and a big suit jacket, shirt and tank top in the hottest summer we've ever had. So I lost a bit of weight inside the clothes - they cooked you internally. The first thing I did when I finished filming was bleach my hair blond."

It's not the first time Andrew has worked with Michael Kitchen.

"I did New Year's Day, a feature with him which was my big break. I played the lead and Michael was one of the supporting actors. It was a film that took me all around the world and I felt like a kid alongside Michael. This time, I felt like an adult at last."

Andrew started acting at the age of seven, alongside his sister Sarah Lee Potts. His credits include the role of Nero in Boudica, Strange, Always and Everyone, Sunburn, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates and The Biz, and he has just filmed the new series of Fat Friends and the feature film Dead Fish.

"It's been a good run for Sarah and I and I think we are both very rooted. I went on tour with Pete Postlethwaite when I was 16 and I knew I didn't want fame or celebrity, I just wanted respect from my peers. Sarah is based in America now and she has just done an episode of NYPD Blue."

Andrew's next job is in the BBC comedy Absolute Power, which also features his Foyle's War co-stars Adrian Lukis and Nicholas Farrell.

"I play one of Stephen Fry's PR clients - I'm an ex-boy band coke addict and get lots of tattoos. I think deep down every actor wants to be a rock star, so I am having a good time."

Caroline Harker plays Jane Hardiman

Caroline Harker had a great time choosing her costume for Foyle's War.

"My character Jane does very little apart from going to Haute Couture fashion shows, reading magazines, or hunting, shooting and fishing. She's a bit of a 'Sloane'. I had a great costume designer and we got hold of some authentic clothes from the period.

"Mine were loud and frivolous, polka dots and ribbon patterns that looked like sticks of candy. She would have seen them in magazines and got them made, which in the war is pretty clever. It was great to get into character and she also has wonderful riding clothes."

Jane is spending the war at a country house, or 'funk hole', with her husband Blake (Adrian Lukis).

"They are an enigmatic pair. The funk hole brings together the strangest mix of people in one place. There is a sense of shame about all of them and Jane is a rich girl just interested in getting on with her life. But she's mysterious and has a terrible secret."

The role meant breaking one of the acting taboos about never working with animals.

"Jane has a dog, Charlie, who was played by a spaniel called Barley. He was fantastically trained and a very special dog. I'm not actually drawn to dogs but he was wonderful."

Caroline is married to the actor Anthony Calf and combines her career with caring for their daughters.

"I've been working a lot this year. I did a play with Rik Mayall and then I did Auf Wiedersehen Pet, playing Pru Scott Johns, who works at the British Embassy in Cuba and looks after the lads. I am in four out of the six episodes and I adored working with the boys - they are the nicest group and completely professional."

Caroline's other credits include I Saw You, Armadillo, A Touch of Frost, A Dance To The Music of Time, Holding On and Chancer. She also appeared in the film The Madness of King George.

With thanks to Shelagh for the publicity material.