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Comic Con with Andrew Lee Potts
TV Editor Matt Dawson reports on last month's MCM Comic Con as Primeval's Andrew Lee Potts took centre stage in Birmingham
Kicking off the first panel of the weekend at the MCM Birmingham Comic Con, actor and director Andrew Lee Potts (famous for his role of Connor Temple in the ITV sci-fi series Primeval) talked to an eager crowd about his acting anecdotes and upcoming projects.
He first talked the audience about Wireless, his internet series that will be returning in 2018, mentioning that “Wireless is a web show that I direct, and it’s a passion project that I do alongside any other TV and film work.” Entirely financed by Potts himself, the series is already 12 episodes in and is available to stream online for free. It features an ensemble cast of actors who work for free, but Potts edits, directs and coordinates everything. “It’s kind of like my baby […] Everything you see is basically my vision and hard work.”
Potts further elaborated the genesis of the concept “it was developed in the last year I was filming Primeval, with my writing partner [...] We started to develop it as a TV show and then [during the early stages] I slowly realised, that a lot of power would be taken away from me, and I didn’t want that because it’s not the reason I direct.” As a director, he makes no financial gain, and so did not want to sacrifice the artistic integrity of his project.
Potts also mentioned the reason behind the decision of casting himself as the protagonist: “a lot of actors like to direct themselves so they can become the lead, but that wasn’t the case with this. It was the most convenient thing, as it starts set in the character’s car and I was the only person there, and there can’t be anyone else in the car as it’s being filmed, so I thought ‘it’s going to have to be me really!’”
“'You can’t do it in Britain, you can’t make dinosaurs like this! This is Jurassic Park!'
For Potts, the reasoning behind this was clear. “There were no shows on British television that looked American. That looked sexy, cool, hip, but still felt really British, with the humour. So we broke the mould with that. And then suddenly Merlin got commissioned, Robin Hood got commissioned, and [so] did all these other ones that were in the same kind of vein. But I think that we were brave enough to take that first step.” This extended to the fearsome array of creatures and dinosaurs that the series became famed for, and for Potts, the Future Predator stood out in particular. “It’s brilliant, I still stand by it. I still can’t believe we got away with putting that on family television, it looks like something out of a horror film. It was like the Terminator, it just didn’t stop […] It became a bit like our Dalek, but could move a hell of a lot faster.”
“'As Connor I improvised quite a lot, changed it every time and kept it fresh'
At the time, ITV obviously wanted to capitalise on the shows success, which lead to a flood of merchandising. When discussing the phenomenon, Potts mentioned: “Having an action figure of myself, no-one could ever take that away from me […] The weirdest thing was going around Sainsbury’s and shopping.” But there were some that were clearly more popular than others. “There was hardly ever my toy on sale, it was always sold out, there was only ever [Ben Miller’s character] James Lester!”
Potts was also asked by probably what is a popular question amongst fans about the potential to come back. He responded “it wouldn’t surprise me if they revisited the brand. I think they should. It was unique, it was fun, and I would like my kids to be able to grow up watching a show that looks cool and American, but is fundamentally British. I don’t know if I’d be in it, I’d be too old by then!”
Andrew Lee Potts’ web series Wireless is available to watch free of charge at https://www.wirelessweb.london/