Exclusives Interviews 20 February 2024

GRM Exclusive: BBC Three’s ‘Boarders’ Cast Talk New Show, Life As A Student, Character Processes & More

20 February 2024

February sees the long-awaited release of BBC Three and BBC iPlayer’s enthralling new series Boarders. Commencing in Lewisham, five students with an abundant of knowledge are gifted scholarships into boarding school at the infamous St. Gilberts, after a viral video puts the prestigious institution into a spot of turmoil.

The series is written by BAFTA nominee director Daniel Lawrence Taylor who plays Gus, a father-figure mentor who is determined to see his youthful set of learners flourish in their new educational environment. The show epitomises every experience possible for a young student, as the group of five venture through their studies encountering hardship, adversity, and pure laughter on their way to graduation.

The talented cast who seem set for success off the back of the show consist of Josh Tedeku, Jodie Campbell, Myles Kamwendo and Sekou Diaby and Aruna Jalloh who make their screen debuts.

As we speak to the group, we touch on the experience of Boarders, the reality of students fitting into new environments, the different processes of getting into character and much more.

Can you give us a backstory to Boarders, St. Gilberts and what the series entails?

Jodie: “Boarders is a comedy/drama. We’re inner-city kids from London, South to East. We all have our own individual talents, and we get a scholarship to go boarding school. It’s about our experiences there and a lot goes down!”

Boarders showcases the everyday life and events of a student – Which student would you find yourself gravitating towards if you studied at St. Gilberts?

Myles: “Definitely not Femi!”

Josh: “I’m going to stay true to my character, I’m gonna say Zhang. I like computers as well! I like my tech.”

Who would you say has the most enjoyable St. Gilberts experience?

Jodie: “Femi I think.”

Josh: “He’s the definition of adapting, so he had the best experience.”

We see Femi goes against his parents wishes, is there an importance of having your own independence?

Aruna: “I think it’s very important to have your own independence, but I believe your elders do know well as well. It’s taking wisdom from it because there is some truth in what they’re saying.”

In reality, do you think there is an added pressure for those from unprivileged backgrounds who do go to boarding school? Should they feel like they have to adjust to fit in?

Jodie: “Especially now in 2024, these institutions need to make space for different kinds of people entering them. For years, people from different backgrounds have been made to feel like they need to culturally assimilate into a space. Now that we are aware of different cultures, different types of people, it’s really important that these spaces make those changes.”

Is there a process when transitioning into a character? Is it just about reading the script, or do you have a particular method?

Josh: “I think it’s different for everyone you know. I was speaking about this to someone the other day. I said I do character work. For me personally, I just ask myself loads and loads of questions about the character, adapt the mindset and then the emotions rise out of you easily. I know couple of the guys here might write down things on their wall, maybe have a notebook. It’s a different process for everybody.”

Is there times where you have had to improvise a scene?

Josh: “It’s easy to bounce off each other. Me and Sekou gel in real life, it was just natural on scene and we’re just vibin’ as bredrins.”

We’ve seen Toby’s multilingual skills in the show, how was it to learn another language?

Sekou: “It might surprise you to know that I don’t actually speak Japanese! It was a process learning that. We were working on a strict timeframe, high pressure, but I feel like hopefully it pulls through!”

If you had one artist to get you through your St. Gilbert’s experience, who would you choose to listen to?

Josh: “J. Cole helps you get through anything! He’s got music for every day. My second artist, I’m going to lean towards more of the St. Gilberts vibe and say Rex Orange Country. His lyrics really speak to you.”

Aruna: “My two would be Kendrick Lamar, a particular song “Mama” just to ground me. Kojey Radical because he talks about life in different ways and it’s creative and fun. It also has depth to it and keeps me level-headed.”

What advice would you give for young, emerging actors/actresses who are trying to pursue a career in the industry?

Myles: “I would say continue hustling, work hard, stick at it. There will be hard times but there is something beyond the horizon, you just have to stick to it.”

Jodie: “Don’t be put off by rejection because it will happen a lot. Brush it off and onto the next! Every opportunity you get put your all in it. Write what you want to do down. Put pen to paper and put it out there.”

Josh: “I’d say believe in your sauce, don’t be afraid of confidence. Stay humble but walk into every room feeling like you’re the one. If you don’t get it, straight onto the next on and keep grinding. Work on self-confidence and self-love!”

Boarders is now available to watch on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer.