BBC Interviews Matthew Lewis About The Syndicate
In a new five-part drama for BBC One, written by Kay Mellor, The Syndicate follows five workers at a cut-price supermarket in Leeds, whose lives are turned upside down after they jointly win the lottery, going from facing redundancy and battling the present economic downturn to having more money than they ever dreamt of.
In episode One local Right Buy U supermarket in Leeds is threatened with closure spiraling it s five staff, Bob, Stuart, Denise, Leanne and Jamie are into an uncertain future. Assistant Manager Stuart Bradley and his younger brother Jamie are forced to take matters into their own hands with dramatic consequences. Just when it seems things can’t get any worse the unthinkable happens; 18 million pounds falls into their laps.
Bob is played by Timothy Spall, Stuart is played by Matthew McNaulty, Densie is played by Lorriane Bruce, Leanne is played by Joanne Page and Jamie is played Matthew Lewis
Can you describe your character, Jamie?
Jamie can come across as a bit of an idiot, a bit of a scumbag, because he can be selfish and becomes pretty extravagant and arrogant when he receives his money. He doesn’t react well to anyone in authority and can be very confrontational.
However, as the series progresses we start to understand this guy and we see into his past and he’s really been through a lot – physically and emotionally. He’s very lonely and lacking in direction but he rarely lets his guard down so nobody ever really understands this, but we’ll get to see it more and more as we get to know him. He takes quite a journey.
Jamie’s world is a million miles away from Hogwarts – have you enjoyed playing such a different, and dare we say, a less loveable character?
I’ve missed Jamie a hell of a lot since we finished shooting. He does some pretty nasty things but he’s not all bad; he’s been let down by anybody who ever meant anything to him and he makes some lousy decisions. It just so happens that his bad decisions have had far-reaching consequences and he’ll have to take responsibility for that. But I don’t think he’s evil, so hopefully people will appreciate that side of him. That depth of character made the shoot an immense amount of fun not to mention doing the ‘nasty things’ I mentioned earlier. That was all a good laugh.
Jamie has issues with his family, particularly his brother Stuart – what do you think are the cause of the problems?
What Jamie really needs in his life is guidance – somebody to look up to, somebody who will look out for him and show him the way to go. He thought that was his Dad but that falls through. His Mum has always had Stuart as her favourite. So for Jamie, Stuart was the last hope for him, the last chance of somebody to aspire to be, somebody who’ll look out for him.
Unfortunately, Stuart has his own problems to concentrate on which leads to, in Jamie’s eyes, an almighty betrayal. Jamie can’t forgive his brother for it and it causes tension throughout though we don’t find out exactly what it is until much further on in the story.
Jamie gets to wear some sharp suits in the drama – do you like his look and are they the sort of things you would wear?
Half and half! Once Jamie wins the money he becomes very flash, very flamboyant. He’s a lad from a council estate who jumps head first into the seedy world of adult entertainment. He tries to dress in what he thinks he should be dressing in but he doesn’t quite get it right.
Some of his earlier gear is not my cup of tea. However, as Jamie settles in and things start to go right for him he grows in confidence and he starts to dress more confidently with it. His suits become less flashy and more elegant. Towards the end he looks much more like he belongs in the world of the rich rather just a pretender. You’re almost proud of him and some of that later gear I could wear definitely.
What was it like working with Kay and the rest of the cast?
I’ve worked with Kay before but I was very young; she cast me in the first thing I ever did back when I was five so I don’t remember it a lot. My brother, Anthony, has worked with Kay since so I’d met her quite a few times and was acutely aware of how talented she was.
It was a real pleasure to work on this with her (and my brother for that matter) because she writes so effortlessly and she has such a vivid image in her head of what she wants and she knows exactly how to convey that to the actor. We luckily had a fantastic cast too. Working with Michael (Mathew) McNulty, Jo Page, Lorraine Bruce, Amy Beth Hayes and of course Tim Spall was amazing for me. I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible actors in my time but I feel I learnt an enormous amount being around these lot over this shoot. Great bunch, every one of them.
And (of course) do you play the lottery and what would you do if you won?
I did for a bit while we were shooting. I found the whole thing fascinating; I hadn’t really thought about it much but the idea of a complete turn of fortune over night is exhilarating. I thought I should play just to get that feeling of watching the numbers come up to see if you’d won.
Of course, I was met with disappointment every week. I haven’t bought a ticket since finishing but if the mood takes me I might buy one on the spur of the moment. Depending how much I won I’d try and invest a lot, probably in my brothers’ production company. Definitely buy a new car… Aston Martin maybe?