Irish actor Patrick Gibson, best known for his role in What Richard Did, is among the stars of the new BBC One World War I drama The Passing Bells. Here, he discusses making the series, which begins tonight, Monday November 3, at 7:00pm.
Written by Tony Jordan (Hustle, Life on Mars), the five part-series follows Thomas (Gibson) and Michael (Jack Lowden), soldiers on opposing sides who, over five years, "grow up, lose friends and find love amid the horrors of the war".
Tell us about your character.
Patrick Gibson: I play Thomas, who starts out as a young kid looking for adventure. When the war is declared he sees it as his opportunity to get out and have an adventure. That experience makes him grow up quite quickly. It may not be the adventure he was looking for, but it's definitely an adventure of sorts.
How does his view of the war change over the years?
At the start everyone thought it would be over by six months, or less. Going into it, it wasn't something they thought would take up a large majority of their young adult life. There was a realisation halfway through the war or earlier that this was going to be their life and they didn't know when it was going to end. I think that inevitably changes them as people, especially when going home, as it's a huge thing to adjust to the real world.
They're with their friends the whole time, and although all these tragic things are happening and it's hard physically, it's not matched by the real world when you go home. I think the thing that had the biggest effect on them was their friends.
What do you think seeing the war from the position of the British and German soldiers brings to the series?
I think it's unusual and it hasn't been done before. I think that's really strong and to step back and realise that anyone dying or being killed for any reason isn't right. That has justified the show.
What attracted you to the role?
The script. I intended to read the first episode and sat down thinking I'd look at episodes two and three the next day, but I couldn't stop. When you can't stop reading, that's a good sign for any series.
Why do you think it's important to commemorate such anniversaries 100 years on?
I don't think you can forget these things, out of respect to all those people who fought. I think it's partly commemoration and a part of paying your dues to those who fought to protect their countries. Hopefully it is a lesson as well. Looking back on these things we have to learn from history and hopefully we can only improve and learn that maybe it didn't need to happen that way, maybe people didn't need to die.