Interview with Adrian Lester (ANDREW MAKINDE)

Category: Interview

Could you give us a brief outline of the story of “The Undeclared War”?

AL: There are lots of stories in it really. The main thrust of the plot is that each episode tracks an escalating cyber war between Britain and Russia, and in every episode, you see the personal as well as the political cost of this – it was a cold war, but it’s a very hot one now – and it’s being fought in cyber space. It’s one of the new frontiers of war – you have land, sea, and air – you now have cyberspace.

Please introduce us to Andrew and tell us how he fits into the story.

AL: Andrew Makinde is the son of a Nigerian diplomat, political leader, and businessman. He was schooled at Sussex House when he was five years old, so learned a lot there, and then went onto Eton. He’s easily the most affluent member of the Cabinet and a lifelong Conservative. He started local campaigning in the West Midlands, became the candidate for Meriden, which is a small seat and got him on the back benches, and ever since he’s been in and around Parliament, with aspirations to become leader. In our story, he’s ousted Boris Johnson, and become the surprise leader of the Conservative Party. So, he’s the Prime Minister, but not elected by the public.

What attracted you to the role of Andrew?

AL: What attracted me to this job, as always, was the quality of the script and of the story. Peter is, without doubt, a brilliant writer, and a brilliant director, he brings an eye for detail to everything. His stories are informative, they’re emotional, they really are thought provoking, and this is no different – in every character, he’s layered emotions and backstory, tensions and drama, and Andrew Makinde is a case in point. When I read the script and saw the character, I just thought, “yeah, I really want to play this guy.” It’s a great part.

Given the provocative timely themes of “The Undeclared War”, what resonates most with you?

AL: I think the thing that jumps out for me from the story is the way that Peter takes a political act, and he shows the ramifications at every level of society. So, you are seeing it on the street, you are seeing it on television, in cabinet offices, COBR meetings. He makes what happens globally very personal and brings it down to friends trying to work together, a daughter relating to her father, a young woman lost in the world, a talented young woman trying to find love, trying to find her feet. Yet, what she does in her personal life has ramifications politically. It shows a really good spectrum and cross section of society and what affects us all.

“The Undeclared War” is one of those series that points at something that should concern us all. It’s a fictional story, with fictional characters, but what Peter has done is constructed a world that should leave us slightly uneasy when we watch it and I like dramas like that. I like watching them and relish being a part of any of them. They’re wrapped up in social conscience, their moral values are in a very good place and they’re just showing us something on television or on a cinema screen that I think a lot of people should see and take note of. I think that this is one of those projects because he has made up the characters, he made up the specific situations, but he hasn’t made up the technology or the procedure or the possible playing out of events.

What have you learnt working on “The Undeclared War”?

AL: I think the thing I have learnt is in the title really, that to some extent we are at war, but as I said before, fought in cyberspace. This continual one upmanship between countries, it is much more complex than can ever be laid out in a newspaper, but it’s been interesting and eye opening to go into that world and play it for television.

Are there three words that spring to mind when you think about “The Undeclared War”?

AL: Three words to sum up the entire series…Thought provoking, that’s two words, and surprising.