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'Professor' T star Juliet Aubrey: 'I had secret lessons!'

Professor T star Juliet Aubrey as 'firm but fair' DSI Christina Brand.
Professor T star Juliet Aubrey as 'firm but fair' DSI Christina Brand. (Image credit: ITV)

Professor T has introduced a wealthy vault of wonderful characters — buttoned-down but brilliant criminologist Professor Jasper Tempest (Ben Miller), his overprotective, eccentric mother Adelaide (Frances de la Tour), starcrossed junior detectives Lisa Donckers (Emma Naomi) and Dan Winters (Barney White), and grieving DI Paul Rabit (Andy Gathergood). 

Sitting quietly at the centre of the six-part, Cambridge-based crime drama (on ITV in the UK and PBS MASTERPIECE in the US) is enigmatic DSI Christina Brand, coping alone with the failure of her off-screen marriage, while working closely with her old flame, Jasper, after years of estrangement. 

There are big revelations when the final episode airs this week (Sunday 22 August 2021 at 9pm on ITV in the UK — see our TV Guide for listings). Secrets from Jasper’s childhood and his relationship with Christina are explained as the series draws to a thrilling conclusion. 

We caught up with Juliet Aubrey, 54, to learn more…

What do you think makes Professor T special?

Juliet Aubrey: "It’s great fun. The scripts are really good, and there's a great amount of light and shade. You’ve got the seriousness of the crimes and the murders, but then that's really nicely offset by the lightness and the humour. And all the psychological aspects are really interesting."

In the final episode of Series 1 there are some major revelations. What can you tell us?

JA: "With Christina you get the sense that it’s not all going well at home in her personal life. I love all the flashbacks. There’s a wedding scene where Christina is left at the altar. 

"Jasper and Christina’s history is so intriguing. They went to university together and both studied criminology, but he went into academia and she went into the police force. Through her we see a lot more of the professor’s past and what's really going on in his mind."

Do we see a different side to Christina in the wedding scenes?

JA: "Yes, you see her hurting and trying to understand Jasper’s difficulties mentally at the time. I hope her vulnerability comes across. She’s toughened up over the years, but you see the potential that could have been between them."

Was it fun to film?

JA: "We were in Cambridge and it was impossible to get any costumes. Eventually the costume designer found a boutique that someone was able to unlock in the middle of the night and let us in to find the wedding dress. I don’t even know if it did up properly at the back!"

On top of the world! Ben Miller as Professor T in one of his favourite places in Cambridge... Inside he's dancing, honest!

On top of the world! Ben Miller as Professor T in one of his favourite places in Cambridge... Inside he's dancing, honest! (Image credit: ITV)

Did you do any research for the role?

JA: [Laughing] "I did quite a lot of secret work on my own! 

"I really like to understand the characters I play so I did a lot of interviews with people working in the police force on the ground. I do a lot with climate activism so just meeting police officers on the street and talking to them to try and understand the stages Christina would have to go through to get to her heights. I like to think of her as firm but fair. She’s quite different to the last time I played a police officer in Lynda La Plante's Supply and Demand with Eamonn Walker."

Do you enjoy researching roles and learning new skills? 

JA: "It’s one of the best things about the job! I had some secret lessons for my tango on the roof in Professor T. Normally you’d have a lot of opportunity to rehearse but with lockdown Ben and I had one Saturday morning for just a couple of hours on a hotel rooftop in Antwerp, where we were filming, with two instructors who choreographed it. Afterwards it was ‘That’s it, We’ll see you on set.’ But I knew I needed more instruction so I did some secret lessons when I came back to London. It takes a lifetime to learn, I've seen Strictly!"

What else have you learned for a role?

JA: "Once I played an opera singer in a film, which was wonderful. When it came to it, they used a proper opera singer but I needed to look like I was actually making those sounds. I had this incredible Hungarian tutor who would get really cross if I didn’t hit those high notes. Learning to breathe like that was amazing. You felt you could really shatter glass with the painful sound that was coming out of me! There’s been loads of things, from sidesaddle galloping on horses to looking like you can kickbox. I love all that."

You’ve worked with Ben on Primeval. Was it nice to be reunited? 

JA: "It was fun to get back with Ben! He just loves watching everything, so we were always watching the monitors and had so many laughs. There was a wonderful energy on set."

Frances De La Tour as Adelaide Tempest.

Adelaide Tempest will, no doubt, have something to say if Professor T and Christina rekindle their relationship. (Image credit: ITV)

Are you hoping for a second series of Professor T?

JA: "Definitely! Seeing more of the professor and Christina’s past would be good. They’re a great pairing of minds — practicality versus academia. Fingers crossed a second series will happen. Often actors are the last people who know what's going on!"

What’s next for you?

JA: "I've just finished one-off film Cradled directed by Chloe Wicks for Channel Four [for the third series of BAFTA-nominated drama anthology On The Edge]. Ellora Torchia plays a woman suffering postpartum psychosis and I play her mum. 

"Other than that, I’ve turned the spare room into a sound studio called Aubrey Studios. We're doing radio dramas with people from all over the world, and it’s all live. Hopefully it sounds like we're in one room!"

The final episode of Professor T airs in the UK on Sunday 22 August 2021 at 9pm on ITV. The series is also available to watch on ITV Hub