One of the stars of BBC1’s new fantasy drama promises it will raise the bar for British television.
“You’ll see stuff on this show you’ve never seen on TV before,” Mark Addy told RadioTimes.com. “Some of the stunts and the amazing work that goes into something like this is stuff you’d normally only see in a movie because it is very, very difficult to achieve.”
It’s a bold claim from the actor who made his name in 90s favourite The Full Monty and more recently met his end as Robert Baratheon in HBO hit Game of Thrones.
How does Atlantis compare to the latter? “This is not anywhere near that sort of scale but for British television it is big budget," says Addy. "It’s great that we’re doing stuff of this quality and calibre: giving them a run for their money.”
Atlantis is a teatime family drama from some of the team behind BBC1 Merlin, which ran for five years and became a global phenomenon. “They’re the best in the business so we’re in really safe hands. They’re doing stuff that you don’t see on telly. [Each episode] is different and they’re all brilliant; it’s like shooting a series of feature films back-to-back.”
Filming still hasn’t finished: there will still be a month to go when the first episode airs on Saturday 28 September. It began six months ago, in April, and has mostly taken place in a disused Tesco warehouse in Chepstow, Wales, on a set so big the crew needed bikes to get around. The production team has also flown out to Atlas film studios in Morocco – the world’s largest studios – where Hollywood blockbusters Gladiator and The Mummy were made.
Set in Ancient Greece, Atlantis will chronicle the adventures of young Jason (better known as Jason of the Argonauts). Addy plays his sidekick: an unheroic Hercules. “His glory days are in the past but that doesn’t stop him banging on about them,” explained Addy. “In the script, he’s described as an ancient Greek Falstaff: garrulous, often drunk, perpetually in debt.”
Addy’s own Achilles heel is the stuntwork: “There are times when I think, what am I doing? I’m 50 next year and I’m being whizzed through the air in a harness!”
Atlantis starts on Satuday 28 September on BBC1