Captain James is back in danger on the front line in BBC1's new series of Our Girl this week, so What's On TV caught up for a video chat with Ben Aldridge to tell us more about his battle-ready character…
Ben revealed how Captain James changed in this new five-part Our Girl series which begins on Wednesday September 7 (BBC1, 9pm). Also what it was like filming with Our Girl’s new lead actress - former Coronation street star Michelle Keegan - and how they all fared at the boot camp to prepare for their gruelling roles as soldiers, who will been seen on a dangerous humanitarian mission in Kenya.
“I think Captain James has changed, without giving too much away, although he’s back doing what he absolutely loves – he loves being a soldier and a captain. In this series, however, he’s slightly more war weary.
'This is his fifth or sixth tour of duty and he’s got to a stage where maybe he’s starting to question what he’s doing and the ethics of war. In the last series Molly had started him on an ethical debate within himself, about why we were at war in Afghanistan. I think he’s still thinking those things. Although in Series 2 we’re not going to war as such, we end up in a similar situation. I also think he’s matured.”
Captain James is really great mates with a new Our girl character Elvis Harte, who’s played by Luke Pasqualino, and Ben explains there’s plenty of history between them…
“Elvis is a reminder of James’ past and wilder days. They were absolute rascals together back in the day, so you see who James used to be through Elvis, and you also see a slightly more mature version of James now. The pair of them would have been each other’s best men basically.”
Ben admits there was plenty of ‘bromancing’ between him and Luke on set in South Africa, as well as with other cast playing the soldiers out in Kenya.
“I have to say there was a lot of bromancing on Our Girl in general, as everyone got on exceptionally well. This is definitely the favourite cast I’ve ever worked with. We’re genuinely are good friends. That comes from getting thrown into boot camp together and we have that bonding experience without the cameras even being there. So for two weeks we can work each other out! They actively encourage us to get along and we all worked on our army banter at boot camp. I hope it plays well in the show.”
According to Ben, boot camp was as tough as the last series, and this time they were joined by Michelle Keegan, who plays army medic Georgie Lane….
"It’s a drastic experience,” laughs Ben. "It being Michelle’s first time, they had to put her through boot camp. I love it and I’m glad the BBC make boot camp happen because I don’t feel I’d be able to Captain James without it."
With former Corrie star Michelle Keegan taking the lead role of Georgie Lane in Our Girl, instead of EastEnders star Lacey Turner - who was soldier Molly Dawes in the previous series – it meant a different dynamic between the characters, as Ben explains...
“Captain James and Georgie already know each other well, and Georgie is friends with Molly. When Molly joined the section she was having to prove herself where are Georgie has already earned her stripes. He knows Georgie’s capable, up to the job and is going to smash it. So there’s a lot of mutual respect.”
* Our Girl Series 2 premieres on BBC1, Wednesday September 7 at 9pm
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.