When we heard Kay Mellor’s exceptional drama The Syndicate would be returning to BBC One, we let out a shriek of joy. That’s not just us being dramatic; we really did miss the show that much.
Now returning for a fourth series, after being on somewhat of a hiatus since 2015, we couldn’t wait to find out just where the familiar yet always-unique storyline would take us this time round.
Ahead of the Series 4 premiere, we caught up with star of the show Liberty Hobbs, to find out a little bit more about what to expect when she and her castmates grace our screens tomorrow night (March 31st, 2021).
What can you tell us about the new series of The Syndicate and the character you play?
The Syndicate is a six-part drama with a sprinkle of that Kay Mellor comedy we all love. It’s a fun cat and mouse game that involves a lottery ticket, lots of dogs and an unexpected holiday to the French Riviera.
I play Gemma, a 22-year-old dog kennel worker who is kind, sweet and bubbly. She lives with her grandma, has an undying love for headbands and is always putting other’s needs before her own.
As the series continues we see that at her core she is this extremely hurt girl who has a lot of anger she needs to deal with, which is all revealed in Episode 6…
You worked with the likes of Neil Morrissey and Joe Sugg on the series; what was the chemistry like on set?
It was incredible to work with such an experienced actor like Neil! I learned so much from him just by watching him work on set and I just tried to soak up as much as I could from him.
Working with Joe was great - this was his first TV acting role, so he was just dipping his toe into this new world. I can only imagine it’s so different from the YouTube universe and so I respect him for giving it his all and doing such a wonderful job - it was lovely to get to know him.
Can you tell us a bit about a typical day on the set of the show? If indeed there were any typical days!
There are definitely no typical days! That’s actually part of why I love this job, because every day is different.
We have parts of our day that are the same, like when we arrive to set we go into costume and then onto the hair and makeup trailer; but once we arrive on set, that’s when the fun begins and since we were shooting different scenes every day, you never know what each day will bring.
One thing was always the same when shooting The Syndicate though: you can guarantee that we would always be laughing!
You've worked on big American productions as well as British shows; are there any major differences when it comes to how they are filmed and produced, or directed?
Honestly, no. The industry at its core is the same wherever you go. I think there’s always going to be small cultural differences like the terminology that is used on set in the US versus the terminology used in the UK, but other than that it’s the same.
The world's obviously in a very strange position right now with the coronavirus pandemic. How do you think the entertainment industry is going to have to adapt moving forward?
I think there’s going to have to be a lot of adapting within the industry that has already begun, like covid testing on set, social distancing, and wearing face shields in-between scenes.
Hopefully as more people get vaccinated those restrictions can lift a little bit and life on set can go back to some sort of normality.
How have you personally been finding the past 12 or so months with everything that's been going on?
I was actually really lucky because I was working during the latter part of the lockdown. It was horrible to see all the lives that were lost but I am so thankful to all the doctors and nurses out there.
I’m definitely lucky that I was able to stay home at the beginning, then continue to work safely and that all of my family and friends remained safe.
It’s an adjustment getting used to the new normal but I’m just taking it day by day like everyone else and hopefully we can get back to some sort of normality soon.
Have you picked up any new hobbies or learned anything about yourself in the past year?
I don’t think I’ve picked up any new hobbies only because I haven’t really had the time with working through lockdown! But I have learned a lot about myself in the past year.
It was the first time I was really living on my own while I was away filming the show so little things like having to keep my apartment ‘running’ was all new to me. I feel like I came into my own a little bit during the past year and I have really grown.
You've worked on some major projects in your time. What have been some of your career highlights to-date?
I think the biggest highlights for me were Grey’s Anatomy, which was my first recurring role. Working with Ellen Pompeo was incredible and really opened my eyes to working in the industry.
Secondly, I think my most recent project The Syndicate, which was my first series regular role, as it was such a huge learning experience for me in many ways and a role I’ll always look back on and be so grateful for.
What challenges have you faced in the industry so far, that those looking to carve out a career should look out for?
If I sat down and wrote them all I’d take up your whole website! So, I’ll sum it up by saying the major challenge is having to constantly accept the word ‘no’.
It’s something I hear all the time and at first it is a word that hurts you to the core. But once you’ve been in the game for a while the word starts to have less effect on you and every ‘no’ just gets you one step closer to a ‘yes’ which feels a heck of a lot better!
The negatives don’t really have an effect on me anymore so I would just say to those people to fight through that feeling, because eventually you will get that wonderful ‘yes’ feeling and it makes it all worth it.
How close do you think women are to achieving complete equality within the entertainment industry?
That’s such a hard question to answer because I think we have definitely made some great progress in recent years, however we still have a long way to go. Especially when it comes to equal pay for actors in roles of equal value.
Also, the treatment of men and women when it comes to attitude. I’ve noticed, even being at the bottom of the totem pole, that if a woman asks a question on set it’s considered annoying but if a man asks that same question it’s considered commendable of him to ask for information.
Things like that definitely need to change before equality can even be considered achieved.
Finally, what else should we expect from you in the coming months?
Well, [the pandemic] has definitely interrupted a lot of productions which has stopped auditions from happening but now that we have the vaccine, thankfully, I am starting to audition for new projects again. Which I am so happy about!
I’m also a singer so I’m working on some songs and I can’t wait for theatres to open and musicals to get back up and running. On the whole I’m excited for whatever project is next for me!
You can catch Liberty in The Syndicate on BBC One on Tuesday, March 30th at 9pm.
Taj Atwal has revealed that she decided to leave her role in Line of Duty behind, so she could star in the fourth series of Kay Mellor’s drama The Syndicate.
The 33-year-old actress had appeared in the police drama as PC Tatleen Sohota since its fifth series, but she was notably missing from the show's Series 6 opener earlier this month (March 2021)…
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