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'There's just something really enticing about being a little scared'

It's been a long wait, but series two of the great A Discovery of Witches is almost here. Georgia Humphreys met some of the cast on set back in 2019. The latest instalment has a lot to live up to

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Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode in A Discovery of Witches

Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode in A Discovery of Witches

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Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode in A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches, about a closet witch named Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont, a centuries-old vampire, is based on much-loved books - Deborah Harkness's bestselling All Souls trilogy - and series one was Sky One's most popular drama of 2018.

Downton Abbey star Matthew Goode, who plays Matthew, was certainly feeling the pressure, what with the show becoming a period drama this time around.

"There are many more things to think about. I don't think we are sitting on our laurels," says the 42-year-old

But there's no need to worry. The 10 new episodes are just as gripping, romantic and spellbinding as you'd hope.

They follow star-crossed lovers Matthew and Diana (Teresa Palmer) as they travel back to Elizabethan London, where they try to find a powerful witch teacher to help Diana control her magic and search for the elusive Book of Life.

Intertwined throughout the story, there's plenty of drama in the present day too - a world where witches, vampires and daemons secretly live and work alongside humans.

Here, from interviews in November 2019, lead stars Goode, Palmer and new cast member Tom Hughes tell us more.

NEW ANGLES

In between shooting series one and two, Aussie actress Palmer (34) gave birth to a daughter, Poet, her third child.

While she is loving the intricate Elizabethan costumes Diana wears this series, the logistics of wearing them are challenging.

The Adelaide-born star, who is married to American actor Mark Webber, is currently breastfeeding and so has to have front-opening corsets. "My baby is just not a fan of being gentle at all with any of the collars or the beads - she just rips at everything - so it's been complicated," she says.

But how will we see Diana adapt to a new time period? "To be thrust back is incredibly confronting and challenging. She's in a very vulnerable position, so she's having to navigate lots of things," Palmer replies.

We also see a different side to Matthew as we explore his past as Matthew Roydon.

"Matthew Roydon is a really complex and broody character. She hasn't known this person before and feels like she's getting to know this whole other side of him," Palmer says.

"This other side of him is revealed to her and she steps up and accepts it. She wants to learn more, which I think is very romantic."

FAMOUS FACES

A whole set has been built in the Welsh countryside purposefully for this second series.

As we walk around, it's bustling and atmospheric, with huddles of extras milling around. It really does feel like we've been thrust back in time - something that comes across on screen.

Then there are the new characters that immerse us in the time period too, including Kit Marlowe, the English playwright, poet, and translator of the Elizabethan era, played by Victoria star Tom Hughes.

"There are elements of the real Christopher Marlowe in there. There's a kind of Mercurio quality to him and there's a hedonism to him. There's a lyricism to him," says Chester-born Hughes (35). "And then bring that in with obviously what's in the books and how that's adapted for this story... he's slightly infantilised at times.

"Something about his emotion is very, very raw and that brings with it a plethora of different feelings - there's volatility and there's obsession."

That obsession is within Matthew, and it means Kit has a fear of Diana because when Matthew arrives back from the modern day, the whole world has changed and shifted.

"His (Kit's) emotional connection with Matthew is shifted, Matthew's aura has shifted and the only thing that Kit can seem to identify as being the thing that's caused that is Diana." Bring on the drama...

CASTING A SPELL

In this series, Diana doesn't have a choice other than to start embracing who she is: the most powerful witch the world has ever seen.

Palmer says that has been really fun for her because she's "getting to do so much more magic stuff" and has even been doing magic classes with a movement coach.

She's been "learning about weaving and the history behind witches and the idea of like the threads of the universe and weaving them together and doing these 10 different knots", she explains.

Interestingly, Diana starts to realise that one of her gifts is that she brings life into things, which will no doubt make for some exciting scenes.

"There are certain elements in the book where, for instance, she has an egg and she makes the egg hatch and a live chick comes out," says Palmer.

"There's another sequence where she's looking at someone's shoe and a snake is embroidered in it and she brings a snake out of the shoe - a real-life snake.

"So, she's starting to learn about her connection to life."

POPULAR CHARACTERS

There are so many stories about witches and vampires which have been adapted for television or film.

Discussing their enduring appeal, father-of-three Goode says: "I think that we hear those stories first when we're children and they're sort of a little bit disturbing and magical and mysterious.

"I think Harry Potter helped... Halloween is huge in America, whereas actually, I'm not a big fan of it here.

"You spend your entire time telling children not to talk to strangers and take sweets and then that day all the rules go out the window."

Palmer adds that shows like A Discovery of Witches are "a departure from how we live our lives".

"Fantasy is a form of escapism, I think. I remember as a kid I was so obsessed with UFOs and aliens and ghosts and mysteries. I still am," she says. "My oldest son, Bodhi, he's so excited about what we're doing and vampires and witches. I think it's just ingrained in us as children. There's just something really enticing about being a little scared."

A Discovery of Witches Series 2, Sky One and NOW TV, Friday

Belfast Telegraph


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