Freema Agyeman


Freema Agyeman


Freema is best known for her roles in popular TV series such as Doctor Who, Sense8, Law & Order: UK and more recently in her role as Dr Helen Sharpe in New Amsterdam, a medical drama set in a fictional New York hospital, alongside the lovely Ryan Eggold. After the success of New Amsterdam, which is available on Sky Go, Now TV and Amazon Prime Video, she has once again returned home to star in Dreamland, which explores the dynamics within a family of 4 sisters. Here’s what she has to say about returning and filming alongside her cast members.

Tell us about your character Trish

We meet her at a time in her life where she is a happy family woman, at the core of her family unit. She is married to Spence, who together have two kids and another on the way. Very quickly we discover that she has endured so much trauma; three miscarriages in two years. She is quite the fighter. She is bruised and vulnerable but with aspirations and dreams.

Trish and Spence win their dream house at auction! Clare tells Mel she is there for her, despite everything. Cheryl apologises to Diane but is rejected. The sisters go to Trish and Spencer’s new place to celebrate. Trish gives Mel a gift, for helping her find Spencer. Then, as the ultimate olive branch, she invites Mel to move in as there’s so much space. The nicer Trish is to her, the more uncomfortable Mel gets. Until, wracked with guilt, her awful secret comes tumbling out, leaving the family devastated – Trish most of all.

What attracted to you to Dreamland?

I haven’t worked in England for many years as I’ve been living in the States, so working at home was something I’d become increasingly interested in – particularly post pandemic. Once I read the script and saw the Sky Short, I was champing at the bit. I wrote the giddiest email to my team saying I wanted to be involved. That stemmed from immediately recognising these characters, their lives, and knowing exactly what I could do with Trish.

When I look across my career, it is the closest to centre to my own life. I couldn’t have hoped for something more British for my homecoming!

What significance does Margate have to the series?

Trish is proud of being from Margate, but it comes with heartache, having experienced being ostracised there, at points in her life, due to her race. But her support network is so strong, as is her sense of identity, so those issues weren’t strong enough to force her away from the place she considers home. It’s a relationship of love, but as we explore love in all its iterations, it doesn’t come without its complications. The script examines gentrification rather than regeneration and placing the story against that backdrop amplifies all the other themes that are being discussed in the series.

Clare can’t bear to be around Mel, so sets off early from the flat for the Heroes of Margate Awards ceremony, which she is covering for her paper. Mel joins later, with the rest of the family, who are all there to see Nan get a Lifetime Achievement Award for her litter-picking environmental contributions. Mel makes a big decision that freaks out Spencer. Unaware, Trish is enjoying herself until she’s insulted by a photographer. Clare defends Trish – to Trish’s dismay – then later turns on Mel, confronting her about her discovery. But before she gets any answers, Nan collapses.

Tell us about Trish’s relationship with Mel?

The dynamic between sisters can change and fluctuate so quickly and, in this case, it shows how fervently sisters can equally love and hate one another. There is a thin line between those two fierce emotions, and they dance that line quite rabidly. Their relationship is very complicated as they are still holding on to grievances from their childhood, but when they are in a place of love it’s like they are beating the same heart. It’s a collision of explosive proportions – everything about their relationship is always at maximum level.

What was it like filming with Kiell, your onscreen husband?

He is such a joker! I probably spend the most time off set with him as we both love a tequila and a dance. It’s so important for me to feel comfortable with the people who I play love interests with and have banter! We came at this freshly and I felt like I was in a safe environment to play and explore. In this industry it can become so serious, and the element of play and exploration can get lost, but I feel that was not the case here.

In terms of Trish and Spence’s relationship, I think Trish’s three miscarriages took a knock on their relationship – not so much that you can detect the distance between them, but her coping mechanism in the tough times is to somewhat shut down. They do have a laugh though and he’s the only person who can put her in her place.

What do you think audiences will take away from Dreamland?

The show is so beautifully observed and placed in total realism. It’s a dark comedy so the laughter is coming from the reality of these painful, absurd, difficult life moments that I think audiences will relate to. Or learn from! A director I was working with once said to me “when the words are powerful enough, you don’t have to scream them at people.” It’s far more effective to let the words do the work. What this show does so beautifully is present these issues and encourage them to be discussed in people’s living rooms once the credits roll.

How did you approach playing a mother?

I have never played a mum before, so I was really excited by that. The two little boys playing my sons are gorgeous, sweet, talented, well-mannered delights and I absolutely loved spending time with them between scenes which made it so easy for me to play their mum on camera. Trish is very protective. She isn’t very demonstrative – we never see her cuddling them or scooping them up – but she shows her love in other ways. Trish wants to forge a path and a future for her children.

Being a mother is a very important aspect of Trish’s life. Are there any other layers to her character that you would like to explore more?

I would like to see her as a career woman as well at some point. We do see her at her job, and she is bloody good at it. She is clearly very passionate about people building their lives in Margate and creating memories there. Trish experiences lots of betrayal in the series and I look forward to seeing how she handles having to stand alone.

This is your first role in a comedy, and Lily’s first TV role. What was it like working alongside her?

Lily is absolutely lovely. I loved hearing her story about getting into acting and she literally went straight into the deep end. She has a fearlessness about her that is going to serve her really well in the acting game.

Did filming in Margate bring any memories from your childhood holidays?

We mostly went to Brighton when I was a child because that’s where my mum first lived when she came over in the seventies. We go there most years, and it is so fascinating for me to hear her stories about how it has changed and what is different. Filming in Margate reminded me that I prefer pebbled beaches over sand beaches though! As a kid, I got sand in my afro once, and let me tell you how difficult it is to get out!

~ All episodes of Dreamland are available from 6 April on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW.

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