Sorry football fans, Dominic Savage’s new two-part drama Dive isn’t a study of Cristiano Ronaldo’s rather disappointing World Cup, but a tale of Lindsey, a teenage girl who must balance a promising diving career with the news that she is pregnant by Jack O’Connell from Skins (playing a young dude called Robert). Will she be heading to London in the summer of 2012 or picking up her child from the creche? Before filming started, the Bafta-winning director examined the subject of teenage pregnancy and got some very interesting answers from youngsters in Margate..
“The research started, and my co-writer Simon Stephens and I talked to young people – from aged 12 upwards – about their perspectives and attitudes today. Not in Margate but from a similar town. We spoke to young people about what they wanted in life, what they felt about sex, about having a family, ambition and their futures.
“One of the more striking things was how quite a number of the boys wanted to stay in their home town, had little ambition, and were interested in settling down as quickly as possible and having a family of their own. The reasons given were that they wanted to replicate the life that they had growing up there, so good had it been for them. A lot more girls however, were interested in getting away from that place and properly achieving something and doing something with their lives. Many of them had already had sex and were having sexual experiences with different partners.”
“It was important that Lindsey and Robert were shown as people who have complex feelings and who genuinely care about each other. I think that’s unusual to show the true emotional side of teenage life. Most films don’t go for that; they go for the stereotypes, the headlines. We wanted to get beyond that and show young people in a mature way, an insightful way, to show young people who are dealing with mature feelings and big life decisions.”
Aisling Loftus is no stranger to big BBC drama having recently played Gemma Adams, in Five Daughters, but in Dive she excels in a more central role. Her character is set to represent Team GB in the 2012 Olympics and seems to enjoy the routine of school and diving practice until she returns home to discover her father has moved out and her mum’s new boyfriend has moved in. Luckily there were some big names on set to help her make the step up..
“I think I struck a chord most with Ewen Bremner and Kate Dickie when we were filming. Ewen said something that’s really stuck with me, I loved working with him. I was finding something difficult and Dom said that he couldn’t see something Lindsey was feeling and I felt like I was feeling it but it wasn’t coming across. And then, Ewen said, never demonstrate emotion on the surface because then you’re not actually feeling it. It looks like you’re just doing some acting; adjust your emotion so that it comes out more obviously. It really stuck me and it’s stayed with me in auditions.”
“Lindsey seemed to have this kind of amazing self possession. She was very self contained, very focused, very driven. Her way of life is very disciplined and structured and that jars with what it is to be 15. I thought that was a really interesting thing about Lindsey, but then at the same time she wants to embrace the excitement that comes with Robert. In some ways she’s very much 15, but she has this parallel life with diving,” explains Loftus.
“Robert’s kind of the antidote to this rigid, structured life and he’s so fun and charismatic and unpredictable and exciting. He just injects this new life into her and the life that she’s got at the moment.”
Luckily for Aisling, she knew her on-screen partner Jack O’Connell from the television workshops they attended when they were younger.
“It was brilliant. I’ve know Jack since I was about 13, but we hadn’t worked on anything together, just television workshops. Obviously, he’s been doing so well and he’s so much fun but at the same time very respectful and a proper gentleman. It was just a blessing to work with someone so talented but so lovely and funny.
“Hopefully people will connect with Robert and Lindsey. They’re flawed but they’re good people. Maybe, it can dispel some of the ideas that go with teenage parents. All these ideas about irresponsibility and not being clever enough to say, no get rid of the baby, which is really silly because at any point in your life it’s a very personal decision and you have to make a very considered judgement. I think people assume the worst of teenage parents.