BBC Two is to give viewers a glimpse of a younger side to Westminster politics this year with a new drama about a group of twenty-something researchers and lobbyists.
Party Animals follows the lives and careers of Scott an ex-New Labour staffer turned lobbyist, his brother Danny who works as a researcher for a junior Home Office Minister and Tory aide and A-lister Ashika.
Series producer Eleanor Greene describes the show, which hails from the makers of cult 90’s series This Life, as “a funny, intelligent and explosive drama, following a group of young people growing up in one of the most cut-throat industries.”
Preparing for the series allowed the cast to meet real life politicians as Shelley Conn who plays Ashika recalls: “I was introduced to a couple of really interesting people from the Conservative Party – I can’t mention their names but they were both incredibly generous with their experiences.”
The actress says these discussions allowed her a glimpse behind the public mask many politicians wear and provided inspiration for her character. One of people she met “told a story about bursting into tears on the phone to her sister after a terrible week at work. I completely related to that vulnerability underneath the steely composure, and felt that that was the real key to Ashika.”
Conn’s character Ashika hails from a family of “hardcore Labour supporters” but being a rebel she’s decided to join the Conservatives. “Ashika is an ambitious character who likes a tussle and needs a challenge, so becoming a Conservative in today’s political climate would appeal to her nature” explains the actress adding ‘it’s much more exciting to be on the attack with the rising Party rather than defending the one that’s in crisis.”
Co-star Andrew Buchan says he found inspiration for the role of schmoozing lobbyist Scott much closer to home: “two people in particular inspired me. One was a mate from Wigan and the other a mate from Bolton. These are two lads who could charm the hind legs off a shire horse. One of them was one of the few guys in his University who managed to get a room in the all-girls’ college””
For Buchan one of the best parts about making the show was filming against the landmarks of London: “a lot of the location shoots around Westminster were pretty exciting. I loved doing the evening scenes with Shelley near Big Ben, looking out onto the London Eye – it was very atmospheric.”
Playing Scott’s brother Danny is Matt Smith who recently appeared opposite former Doctor Who star Billie Piper in BBC One’s adaption of Ruby In The Smoke. Smith describes Danny as someone with “a romantic, moral take on the political world” but at the same time “can be deeply cynical about life outside politics.”
Danny has a major weakness – the scheming intern Kirsty MacKenzie played by Andrea Riseborough.
“He loves her and love is blind.” says Smith going on the explain “she’s pretty and she’s quite funny. She treats him like shit, pays him little attention and uses him for her own personal gain quite ruthlessly. He doesn’t know why but she rocks his world”