Just when you thought you were safe on land some silly old zombies terrorise the country. The obvious choice is to get out of here quick using a…canal boat.
White Gold actress Leah Brotherhead and Hamza Jeetooa (Being Human, Our Girl, Doctor Who) play Kat, a computer game addict and Sunny who together with two others, try to escape a zombie apocalypse by navigating along Birmingham to London’s Grand Union Canal.
Zomboat stars Leah and Hamza chat to Susie Daniels about gummy bears, swivel chairs and who they would save in real life…
The first episode of Zomboat takes place only two days on from the zombie apocalypse. What is going on with the characters?
Leah: We wake up with riots everywhere but we know it’s not riots. We’re trying to get our heads round everything and we’re running around trying to work out what zombies can do. Kat’s trying to work out how they are different from zombies she’s read about like zombies in Waking Dead. We don’t know how fast it’s spreading.
There are immediate connotations of blood, action and gore when anything is linked to zombies. Are you a fan of zombie movies and shows?
Leah: I’m a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and watched that growing up. I’ve always delved into the supernatural but not necessarily zombies.
While you were filming did you come up with any ideas of a survival plan if there was a zombie apocalypse?
Hamza: I’ve thought about it all the time! What is great about Zomboat and especially on Netflix is that they seem to be really into the end of the world. My first plan would be to go to a supermarket and have lots of food. I would get on a boat as I don’t think zombies are good swimmers. It is painfully slow on a boat so they’ll look at you as you go, biting at their mouths.
Do your characters become zombies?
Hamza: There’s a lot of zombies. We’ve all talked about what if one of us is or becomes a zombie. The zombies went through a lot of choreography.
I believe you can dance Bollywood and Bhangra-style. Wouldn’t an all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood Zombie movie be amazing?
Hamza: Yeah, it would! To be fair, my dancing is questionable and I’m tone deaf but never say never. (laughs) Maybe I should take the dancing off my CV. I’ve been to auditions singing Killing Me Softly within a play where there was karaoke happening. I basically learnt the lyrics. I said, ‘Do you actually want me to sing? and they said, ‘Go on’. It was very much the ‘About A Boy ‘moment. I danced Bollywood in college and we used to dress up. It was very tongue-in-cheek. I really don’t think I’m any good.
After that experience, are there any types of auditions you would avoid like the (zombie) plague?
Hamza: I’ve got an issue that I cannot ever be in an audition when I’m on a revolving chair. If the chair starts to swivel I start sweating profusely. It happened twice in auditions and I started turning in the middle of the scene. I kept thinking, ‘do I keep acting or shuffle my feet so I can get back to the centre?’
So not so good with swivel chairs. What about boats? Do all of you swim and did any of you fall in the canal?
Leah: Luckily I didn’t actually get in the canal. It’s not very deep. It’s like up to waist height (laughs) though I’m only 5 feet 1 so it’s probably up to my shoulders! Hamza had to get in it. We all swim but there were lots of life jackets and we had a full boat team which drove back and forward in between takes and there was a camera boat. At the back on the canal boat it’s tiny so it has to be filmed from another boat. The first time we went to the back we were like, ‘Oh my god!’ Greg the cameraman had to fit into the tiniest spaces like the scene where both the boys are in the toilet.
Do you get to drive the boat?
Leah: All of us get to drive the boat at some point while acting. I saved us from crashing, at one point. If you watch the scenes you won’t know we’re all sh***ing ourselves hoping we’re not going to crash.
What would your ideal mode of transport to survive a zombie apocalypse?
Hamza: An army tank would be good or a small plane with enough fuel. A good Land Rover so you could just drive over the zombies.
What is your character Kat like?
Leah: Kat has fully thought out what she would do in a zombie apocalypse. She plays theses computer games and is fully clued up and her plans go into action. Perhaps she’s not as good at confronting a zombie and that comes as a surprise to her. Her and Jo share a flat and Jo’s a holiday rep who buggered off to Thailand or wherever and she comes in and out of the flat. Kat’s social skills are not so good but if you get a subject she’s interested in there’s no holding her back. She’s funny.
Who would you save if it was a real life zombie apocalypse similar to Zomboat and you could only share the canal boat with three people?
Leah: I’d probably save Cary Grant. He was very dashing. I’d want to save all my family but there’s four of them so Josh Whedon (The Avengers) and Diana Wynne Jones, one of the greatest fantasy writers
What’s the goriest scene we see?
Leah: There’s a scene where one of the zombies is eating his own arm. There’s another where zombies are eating someone who is already dead (laughs). The dead body’s made out of gelatine so it smells of gummy bears and looks disgusting! There’s black goo in the zombies’ mouths that dribble down to the floor while they’re snarling and spraying it all over you. The goo’s mint-flavoured!
By Episode Six do you think they are the best people you’d like to escape with?
Leah: I think it could be the beginning of something wonderful. Me and Sunny can’t decide whether we like each other or not. All of the characters have different things they worry about. Kat and Jo wind each other up no end.
If you could choose four famous people to share the canal boat with in the event of a real zombie apocalypse who would it be?
Hamza: My friend Tom, a Bear Grylls kind of guy, I would choose The Stig from Top Gear to drive really well and my wife as she’s an actress so counts as famous. I would want to save Livvie my dog so I’ll have to make her famous and set up her own Facebook page!
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever acted in?
Leah: I guess the weirdest thing I ever starred in was a play called Lands I took to the Edinburgh Fringe a couple of years ago. It was one hour straight. I was on stage doing a jigsaw puzzle the whole time and the other actress Sophie Steer was on a trampoline for the entire hour.
It was about the breakdown of a relationship and all we’re doing is these two tasks. Sophie is definitely doing the harder task.
You starred in White Gold with James Buckley from The Inbetweeners. What was that like?
Leah: That was so lovely. Lauren O’Rourke also starred in it and she’s one of my best friends. I got to make up my own aerobics instructor routine! Myself and Harriet Web (Pure) are doing sexy aerobics. That was fun. James was great to act with.
You studied at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and then went on to study business. How did that come about?
Hamza: I studied a Masters in Screen Acting in 2009 to 2010. I had a stammer as a kid and when I did drama in year seven at school I wasn’t thinking about my speech and it became a drug to act. I did a GCSE in Drama and studied Performing Arts at A Level. I then did a Business degree at Queen Mary University and an internship at the Department of Trade and Industry. It was then I was just so bored. Some of my friends were doing internships or working in the city but I got into acting.
It looks like you’ve been very busy since you started acting. Have the job offers been consistently there?
Hamza: There’s been a few gaps for about a year or a year and a half. I put my energy into other things producing short films and short corporate films. When I was between jobs I was an acting coach. I teach at City Academy in London. My course puts what I do into perspective.
Zomboat is on ITV2 on Tuesday October 8th at 10pm