Michelle Keegan and Luke Pasqualino reveal how they survived the gruelling Our Girl shoot

A 43-degree jungle, seven months away from home and two continents: the filming for BBC1's army drama wasn't made easy for the cast

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Michelle Keegan (Georgie Lane)

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Could you survive in the military?

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I’m not very good physically… I’ve not got good stamina and I can’t really keep up with the boys, although on screen it probably looks like I can because they’re able to edit it all. It’s very tough especially in the climate we’re working in. In the jungle in Malaysia where we’ve been filming the new series, it got to 43 degrees. It’s very hot and it takes a while for me to acclimatise.

So acting is easier?

Yes! I also couldn’t stand the early mornings. Although I’m up early at the minute, we’ve had two military advisers with us since day one and before they start working at six in the morning they’re in the gym at half four. They train every single day without fail. I couldn’t do that. What I do like is rolling around getting dirty while filming – I always tell them to put more dirt on my face, it’s really liberating.

How did you cope with filming away from home?

It’s been really hard being away for so long. I’ve been away for seven and a half months – half of it in South Africa, half in Malaysia. It’s a long time. Mark [husband Mark Wright, former The Only Way Is Essex star] has been out and my best friend and brother came out to visit me. My mum is also going to come out at some point. But it’s still so hard being away from family and friends. I only had a two-week gap between finishing in South Africa and starting in Malaysia, which just wasn’t enough time to cram everyone in.

Have you filmed for long periods abroad before?

Not really – we filmed some of the last series in Manchester, so all in all I was away for three months, which at the time seemed quite long but is nothing in comparison. And Tina and Bobby [the ITV drama in which Keegan played Tina Moore] was all filmed in Manchester, too.

What do you miss about home?

Ordering a Chinese takeaway, in my pyjamas, while watching a film. I also miss taking my dogs for a walk. My mum has my dogs so she takes them out and sends me pictures. I also can’t wait to go home and have my nails and hair done! It’ll be the biggest treat for me. I haven’t painted my nails for months because in the Army they have to have really short nails for hygiene reasons. Every day they put grease in my hair to make it look sweaty and I have it up in a French plait. I love not wearing make-up here but after a while it’s nice to have a pamper sesh.

Did you take any home comforts away with you?

I took mayonnaise from home with me because they don’t have my favourite in Malaysia! And I brought my pink fluffy slippers.


Luke Pasqualino (Elvis Harte) 

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Could you survive in the SAS?

I’ve seen how SAS selection is done, so no! It’s one of the hardest things people will ever go through in their lives. But in the general military, I think I’d thrive. It’s a bit like acting at times – I’ve been throwing myself around in the dirt since before I could walk.

So acting as an SAS commander is easier?

The physical aspect was still really difficult! I’m not a massive gym-goer and it all took its toll after a few days, but I put my blood, sweat and tears into it. The costumes are incredibly uncomfortable and running around in the heat in them was challenging – I got very dehydrated and jumped at the rare chances to take everything off.

How did you cope with filming away from home?

I was out in South Africa for three months and it was a bit like being stationed abroad in the military, where they spend all day in each other’s company, working, training, sleeping in the same room. Because we were all so far away together we spent a lot of our time with each other, so after filming finished we often went out to dinner. Although I sometimes needed a bit of time alone after a long day, so if we finished early I’d go for a hike.

Have you filmed for long periods abroad before?

For The Musketeers [Pasqualino played D’Artagnan in the BBC1 series] I was away for three and a half months, but that was in Prague, which is a lot closer to home. Our Girl felt like longer because it’s so far away.

What did you miss most while you were away?

My bed. I’m not saying the bed in my hotel wasn’t lovely but there’s something about your own bed… I’d also just bought a new mattress four days before I flew out to South Africa – a really good one – and I didn’t get the chance to enjoy it to the max, so I was dreaming about getting back and enjoying that.

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Our Girl is on Tuesday 9.00pm BBC1