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Bluestone 42 leader Oliver Chris: 'Soldiers have to muck about to release the stress'

If ever a TV show deserved the description ‘explosive’, it is Bluestone 42.

Set on the front line in Afghanistan, the BBC3 comedy drama, which returns for a second series on Thursday, February 27, follows the exploits of the titular bomb disposal unit led by Captain Nick Medhurst, played by Oliver Chris.

TV&Satellite Week magazine caught up with Oliver Chris to find out more…

Does series two have a different feel?

"We’re definitely pushing it closer to the edge in terms of both the drama and the comedy. Things get ruder and also a lot more dangerous, so it’s pretty exciting."

What’s in store for your character?

"Nick’s still scheming to make his life a bit more comfortable and getting himself and everyone else into all kinds of trouble. Things develop between him and Padre Mary [Kelly Adams] and, although I can’t reveal exactly how, it’s awesome."

How is the class war between Nick and Tower Block [Matthew Lewis] developing?

" I’d say it’s added a new dynamic. One bit of feedback we got from series one was that my character’s quite posh and no one seems to pick him up on it. Who better to do it than a whippet-licking, tripe-smoking Yorkshireman with a massive chip on his shoulder? Matt Lewis has fitted into the group brilliantly."

What reaction have you had to the show from people in the forces?

"We’ve had a load of military personnel telling the writers real-life stories they think should be included in the second series. Some have gone in, but others were too gross, even for us."

Is it difficult balancing comedy with the life-or-death jeopardy?

"Our show is a comedy, not an expose of the workings of the military mind. But the danger-boredom ratio, as well as the high stress and its release, are what fuel the comedy and the relationships. Danger binds the team together, and they have to muck about to release the stress."

Does this show offer a different perspective on the conflict?

"Most of our knowledge of it comes from news stories, and people don’t generally think about the normal, everyday human beings involved. With Bluestone 42, whether you like it or not, it’s told from the point of view of the soldiers themselves. There’s no politics, social agenda or moral judgment. It’s just people getting by in a difficult situation."

You previously appeared in The Office. Do you use that as a benchmark for other comedies you are offered?

"When we made The Office, I was still at drama school and I don’t think anyone had a clue it was going to become a global phenomenon. If a TV show gets established, it’s brilliant to be in something that becomes part of people’s lives. But my Bluestone 42 character does a dangerous job, so who knows how long he’ll last…"

Do you think you could cut it in the armed forces?

"Do they have a make-up department? In terms of the banter, if you put me in a room full of actors and martinis, I’m just fine. Put me in a room full of squaddies and I’d get torn to shreds."