Interview with Traitors actor Greg McHugh: “It’s a dense, multi-strand spy thriller with lots of characters operating in a complex post war world.”
Traitors which appeared on Channel 4 (pre-order the DVD here), follows a bold woman (named Feef) who agrees to spy on her own government on behalf on the Americans in order to make something of her life.
Speaking to Telly Binge, Greg (who plays David) says Feef is persuaded to spy in the year directly after the Second World War. “Some members of the American secret service viewed the Attlee socialist Government coming to power as a sign that the UK might be close to adopting a Communism.”
“The Americans of course were not keen on Communism. They still aren’t.”
The show will question your thoughts on the relations between American and the UK. “It examines espionage at a time where the wider public would probably have thought that relationships with the Americans were at their best.”
“It’s a dense, multi-strand spy thriller with lots of characters operating in a complex post-war world.”
The actor plays David Hennesy, a civil servant. “He is in part responsible for employing Feef into the civil service – because he spots her ambition and strength. He decides to take her under his wing.”
“Unfortunately she’s not wholly concerned about post-war house building quotas – but is far more motivated to get out of his department and get deeper into the inner works of the Cabinet office. Feef will do or say anything to make this happen.”
Although the series is set in 1945, Greg felt confident without any further in-depth research. “The scripts mapped out the world so well that I didn’t feel the need to. Personally I put all my efforts into thinking about how I’m going to bring something to the role and how to expand the character.”
“Luckily for me my father was a Civil Servant for forty years, so I did have someone to base him on!”
The debut series was created by Bash Doran, with Traitors being her first original commission for British TV. It stars Emma Appleton, Keeley Hawes and Michael Stuhlbarg.
“It was one of these jobs where everyone was utterly lovely. I’d worked with Rhonda Smith (producer) on Fresh Meat and I think she has a real skill of bringing brilliant actors together.”
“Emma Appleton was a total joy, as was Keeley Hawes and Simon Kunz. There was a lot of laughter, especially when it came to learning the songs.”
Greg himself is known for appearing on shows such as A Discovery of Witches, but it’s Gary: Tank Commander which stands out so far. “I’ll never forget walking onto the set for the first day of filming - someone said to me ‘you created this’ and that was a very surreal moment.”
Looking into the future and McHugh says he’s got the writing bug again. “I’m working on a new idea which I am about to meet broadcasters about. Hopefully one of them will give us a chance to make it.”
“It’s the complete opposite of Gary: Tank Commander – it’s a drama! It’s all about the DWAMA now!! Hopefully we will have a laugh doing it because all decent film sets have laughter.”