The new spice girls: Meet the five young actresses set to sizzle in the hottest new show on the box, Indian Summers
As period drama Indian Summers prepares to steam up our TV screens, Daphne Lockyer meets the young stars of the hottest new show on the box
THE RISK-TAKER: JEMIMA WEST
Jemima, 27, plays Alice, who was born in India, then sent to boarding school in England. She married and had a child there but wasn’t happy, so she headed back to India with her baby. She’s staying with her brother, Ralph Whelan – and the two appear at times to be unnaturally close. ‘They adore each other, but Alice is going to discover that her brother has some deep flaws,’ says the actress. Alice is also going to shock Simla society, too, with a passionate, forbidden, mixed-race relationship.
Alice and Ralph are each other’s only family, so it’s an intense bond. The boundaries are pretty blurred and there’s an undeniable attraction that’s always on the brink. When I read the script I thought. ‘Have they? Will they!?’ It’s a fine line.
Alice is drawn to difficult relationships. And because mixed-race relationships are socially unacceptable, her instant connection with an Indian man she encounters by chance is impossibly hard. It’s also like a first love because the emotions are so raw and intense they overwhelm her. She almost forgets the risk she’s taking.
The love scenes weren’t too explicit. But, then, I was in a French drama about prostitutes called Maison Close – and nothing would seem challenging after that!
I wasn’t sure I wanted to work away from home for five months – until I read the script. Then, I thought, ‘I love this.’ I came to an audition in London from Paris, where I live, and thought, ‘If I don’t get this role, I’m really screwed.’ I wanted it so much. When I was finally cast I threw a big party.
I’m happy that filming brought so many new friends. You’re working in a different world, with snakes and bugs all over the place – including an acid beetle that can burn your skin! Often we were stuck inside because it was the middle of the monsoon, so we’d order a pizza, open a bottle of wine and play a game of Uno.
The English cast were banned from sunbathing. The parts required us to stay milk white. So no lying by the pool on days off!
My clothes in the show are amazing. Every stitch was created by costume designer Nic Ede and his team, from beautiful fabrics sourced in Malaysia.
I have a dual cultural identity. I was born in France, lived in the UK until I was five and then my mum and dad – a teacher and an interpreter – took me and my three younger siblings back to Paris. I’m bilingual, of course. I did a history of art degree at the Sorbonne, but at home we speak English.
My background has given me adaptability…and wanderlust. I visited Japan and Cambodia during breaks in filming. Next up is India!
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