The Famous Five's James Lance on starring as Uncle Quentin

The Famous Five's James Lance on starring as Uncle Quentin

The Famous Five centres around the bond between a group of children and a dog, and actor James Lance revealed it was a pleasure acting alongside them all, going against that famous industry saying!

In the new BBC adaptation, James, who is much loved for his depiction of journalist Trent Crimm in the hit Apple TV Plus series Ted Lasso, plays the role of Quentin. He stars opposite Moon Knight's Ann Akinjirin, who plays his on-screen wife Fanny.

Together, Quentin and Fanny are parents to George (Diaana Babnicova), an only child who goes on adventures with her cousins and beloved dog Timmy. These characters and stories are beloved among many generations and have been adapted for a new audience.

The first episode will be available to stream on BBC iPlayer on Saturday, December 9, and also on CBBC on the same day at 5.25 pm.

In an interview with What to Watch, James told us all about Quentin's character, whether he'd go for a drink with him or Trent, and why he advocates for working alongside children and animals...

The Famous Five first-look image featuring the young cast

The Famous Five enjoy new adventures (Image credit: BBC)

Quentin is usually described as being a bit intimidating. Is that a fair assessment?

"That is how he's been described, yeah. And he's got a quick temper, and he's quite irritable, with having children around. And all of that. But I do think that there's a little bit extra with this person. 

"We've seen him as someone who is locked off emotionally and spends a lot of time in his study. I was interested as to why he might be perceived like that. And actually, I think that's a lot to do with his own childhood."

Can you tell us a bit more about his childhood?

"So he grew up in Kirrin Cottage. His sister disappeared and that's formed quite a lot of his character. Of what it's kind of trapped and trauma, really. So he's quite locked away, he's quite contained. And I think that when George comes along, he recognises 100% the same spirit that his sister had, which is adventure and going off together.

"He knows that George is going off on these adventures and he wants to hold her close. But he knows that he can't really. It's a really interesting character."

Are there any traits you particularly like or dislike about Quentin?

"I think just going back to the thing about how if you've lost someone. So I became a father five years ago. And just that overwhelming unconditional love that just pours out of everything was a very interesting time for me. And I think that Quentin has that same dynamic with George.  

"So there's a sort of beautiful, familial love going on in the cottage and I really enjoyed that part of him."

Famous Five star James Lance at a BBC event

James Lance (Image credit: BBC)

What else did you bring to the character?

"For me, playing around in the cottage was great fun and I was able to play around with the character too. I decided that Quentin was going to be barefoot for no reason other than having come out of lockdown, and he's kind of permanently locked down himself.

"So you don't really need shoes, and that's just a little something I brought to him having been in lockdown myself."

There's that famous industry saying, 'never work with children or animals'. Here, you've done both! What was that like?

"This idea of not working with either needs to be completely scrapped. Actually, I'd suggest every actor work with children and animals because it is the best thing in the world!

"You can be in the middle of a scene and then Kip, the superstar that plays Timmy, will just scratch and decide to walk off. So that was cute. And then you've got these young people who are just brilliant. I mean, we were in fits of laughter over their brilliant sense of humour. They're just the most wonderful children, they were such fun to work with." 

And what was it like working with Game of Thrones legend, Jack Gleeson?

"Oh, he's pure evil in this! Can I just tell you now, that you're about to see the most amazing, villainous character. I don't want to give too much away, but he's amazing. I was actually laughing about how brilliant he is the other day."

The Famous Five star Jack Gleeson

Jack Gleeson in The Famous Five (Image credit: BBC)

As a Ted Lasso fan, I have a mildly silly question. If you could go for a drink with either Quentin or Trent, who are you choosing and why?

"Oh God, what a question! I'm taking this quite seriously, actually. Okay, so I think if you went out with Trent, it's probably going to end up being quite a long night. It's going to go late and maybe get a little dark at some points.

"You know what, I think both of them, I think they'd get on well actually in a very strange way. I'm actually going to say both if that's allowed!"

Finally, why do you think this adaptation of The Famous Five will appeal to modern audiences?

"I think it might ignite kids to go on adventures more, and not have technology to interfere with it. I was watching it last night and the first 10 to 15 minutes was just so brilliant, honestly. And there's loads more to come. It really does hold up."