Scott & Bailey star Suranne Jones swaps crime fighting for spooky close encounters in new BBC1 drama The Secret of Crickley Hall (BBC1, Sunday) about a mum who believes her missing son is contacting her through a haunted house…
What can you tell us about this new three-part supernatural drama and your character Eve Caleigh?
“It’s about a woman who has lost her child and is desperate. My character, Eve, is traumatised when she falls asleep while looking after her son Cam at a playground and wakes up to find he’s gone. The guilt of losing her child and what that does to her marriage adds to the tension of suspense.”
Things get spooky when Eve’s husband Gabe (Miranda star Tom Ellis) moves the family to remote Crickley Hall to avoid the first anniversary of Cam’s disappearance. What is it that makes this particularly scary?
“I think the backdrop of any good ghost story is a child going missing or a trauma that helps the audience stick to the main cast. The viewer is following Eve’s desperation, but they can also see the frightening things she can’t. There are two time frames – one in present day with the Caleigh family and one in the 1940s, where you see the Blitz orphans who lived at Crickley Hall being badly treated by headmaster Augustus Cribben (Douglas Henshall) and his sister Magda (Sarah Smart). Eve has some psychic abilities, so she hears things and has a feeling about the house and the abuse that took place there.”
So there is no question of the house being haunted?
“No. Eve understands why people would think hearing voices might be a symptom of psychosis, but she isn’t going mad. The family are in a haunted house and Augustus Cribben – played by the brilliant Douglas Henshall – begins to frighten Gabe and Eve’s daughters.”
Why don’t they leave Crickley Hall?
“Eve’s desperately clinging to the hope of finding Cam and wants to stay in the house because she believes there’s a connection to him through the house. She’s very spiritual so when she begins to hear her son’s voice she desperately wants to stay in the house. It’s so sad that she puts her other children at risk to save a child that’s already lost.”
This was a whole new way of filming for you. Did you enjoy it?
“I’ve never done ghost or horror genre before. It’s been really exciting. I was completely out of my comfort zone – reacting to an empty staircase where Eve may or may not have seen a ghost. When I said this to the amazing David Warner (The Omen), who plays the caretaker of Crickley Hall, he replied; ‘But you’re an actor!’ Given that he’s king of this genre and also starred in Star Trek, he was probably the wrong person to say that to!”