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Next week sees the start of new Channel 4 drama Humans, which is set in a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for a busy family is a Synth – an advanced robotic servant.

Gemma Chan, who plays a Synth called Anita, says that perfecting her machine-like movements wasn’t as easy as it looks and had lessons in synchronising her movements.

“We have had a brilliant movement director called Dan O’Neill who has guided us from the start,” says the 32-year-old actress, who’s previously starred in Fresh Meat, Sherlock and Doctor Who. “Before we started filming we did a few weeks of what we called ‘synth school’.

“Dan and Chris Fry (our producer) really wanted a uniform language of movement for the synths to have, so every actor who played a synth had to go through it.

“As an actor, it was about finding ways to do things that are actually very counter intuitive to how we would traditionally do things: so it was really learning all the basics, how to stand up, sit down, walk, turn a corner.

“It’s really hard actually when you realise how many physical ticks you have and you have to kind of strip those back.”

Gemma Chan as Anita in Humans
Gemma Chan as Anita in Humans (Channel 4)

Dan wasn’t just there to help before filming began, he was on hand throughout the series’ shoot.

“Thank goodness Dan was there every day!” she says. “He would be able to give you notes and say, ‘You know your feet aren’t parallel’ or ‘Your left hand is fidgeting in the shot’, so yeah we really, really needed him,” she said.

Humans begins at 9.00pm on 14 June on Channel 4.