Gemma Whelan Q&A: on Game of Thrones, The Crown, The Moorside and new audiobook ‘Just One Damned Thing After Another’

Today, Audible issues a new audiobook based on Jodi Taylor’s The Chronicles of St Mary’s series. Just One Damned Thing After Another is a Terry Pratchett- and Neil Gaiman-inspired adventure that follows Madeleine Maxwell (Max) and her colleagues as they travel through time to investigate major historical events at their source.

NME met up with Game of Thrones and The Moorside star Gemma Whelan to talk about her role in Just One Damned Thing…, as well as her other projects: Game of Thrones, series two of Netflix’s enormous-budgeted historical drama The Crown, and controversial TV special The Moorside, in which she played Karen Matthews, who faked the kidnap of her daughter, Shannon, in 2008.

NME: So: in Just One Damned Thing After Another, what’s your character Kalinda Black like?

Gemma: “Kal is feisty and Mancunian and very front-footed, no messing, a leader. She doesn’t take any bullshit and she’s very witty.”

 

What’s it like recording an audiobook? How does it work? 

“Normally I just read a book by myself in a room, but this one varies from two of us to 15 of us together, depending on how much background is needed, or if there’s lots of huffing and puffing, or an angry-people mob or whatever in the background. It’s a good job there’s air conditioning.”

 

Have you done radio stuff before? Is it similar?

“I’ve done radio plays before. It is similar but the radio play I’ve done before, we recorded it in an old Georgian house and we were just all over the house for different acoustics and stuff. This one is in a studio so it’s slightly different.”

 

If you could travel anywhere in time, when would you travel to and why?

“The Second World War. Even though in the book we go to the First, I think the Second is a war which some of my relatives served in and to really understand what that was like would be very, very interesting. We can only imagine, but to be rationed and in fear of your life for a lot of your everyday life, and that become a normal thing is quite an extraordinary phenomenon that we’re so lucky we don’t really live in now.

“I know there’s the threat of terrorism and all sorts, but there’s not a hugely tangible threat in London, I don’t think, and yet back in the Second World War there would have been daily scares and people seemingly got on with things. I think it would be interesting to go and see what that was actually like. I would also go and meet a dinosaur if it was an option. From a distance.”

Moving onto other roles – your transformation into Karen Matthews for The Moorside was amazing. How did you go about preparing for it?

“I read a lot, I was given a lot of research material, I was very well supported in terms of production and direction, hair and make up. The whole thing was very sensitive and respectfully handled in my opinion. I think many people share that opinion because it was extremely important to get it right. So…

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