Sharing the screen with top stars like Steffan Rhodri, Sophie Melville and Luke Evans is a dream come true for Performing Arts student Sam Locke, who has landed a plum role in Michael Sheen’s new star-studded TV drama.
Still in his final year at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), 22-year-old Sam is due to appear in The Way, a new three-part BBC production written by James Graham, directed by Michael Sheen and developed by Bethan Jones.
Sam, who comes from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales but has been living in Leicester since starting his degree at DMU, has been filming the family drama at Port Talbot, Wales.
“It’s my first TV role and I was thrilled to get it,” Sam said. “It’s like a dream, a bit surreal, and I can’t wait to see it when it is screened.”
Sam plays the part of Constable Ryan, Sophie Melville’s police sidekick, and appears in the first two episodes of the three-parter.
“I have been filming on and off since the end of April and I am not sure yet when the programme, scheduled for BBC One and iPlayer, will appear. It’s an emotional and darkly humorous story about what it means to be faced with impossible choices,” he said.
Sam can’t reveal too much about the plot of the drama but says it has been described by the BBC as ‘ambitious, powerful and surprising’, featuring the Driscoll family forced to escape the country they’ve always called home.
What was it like working with such a stellar cast? “Well, I was bit nervous about it all, but everyone in the cast was really friendly and welcoming. Michael Sheen was really nice and Sophie Melville is such a fun person to work with,” Sam said.
“Not everyone was on the set at the same time and filming is still going on for the next few weeks, but my role, which is a speaking part but a smaller role, will finish filming in early June. The whole production is due to complete at the end of June.”
Sam is due to graduate from DMU in September.
Sam behind the scenes of short film 'Love Yourself Ben'
“It’s amazing that I have landed a TV role before I have even graduated,” Sam said. “I have been very lucky as my agent arranged for me to audition for a different part in this drama, but I didn’t get it. I didn’t hear anything more for some months and I didn’t think any more about it.
“Then in March, out of the blue, my agent rang me back to say that the producers wanted to give me a different part from the one I auditioned for - and that was the one of Constable Ryan. It was quite a compliment and I’d like to think that I had made a good impression!”
Sam decided on a career on the stage when he was in his first year of his GCSE A-levels in Wales. “I chose to go on to do a BTech course in Performing Arts at Merthyr Tydfil College. The course became part of the University of Arts, London and I got hooked on acting.”
Sam attained a distinction in Performing Arts at Merthyr Tydfil and went on to choose DMU to continue his studies. He said: “I initially wanted to go to drama school but found it hard to get a place. Then, when I was searching for universities, DMU ticked all the boxes.
“It had a very contemporary sort of course and I realised that I preferred it to the more traditional ones offered at drama schools. This DMU course is much more free and expressive, and I also liked living in Leicester and the university’s central location.
“My family always said I was destined for the stage,” Sam joked. “My Aunt Donna has been active in theatre for many years and was a great inspiration to me.
“I have been trained for acting on the stage and have also done a few short films - but this BBC programme is a step in the right direction for my career.”
Once he has finished filming, Sam is planning to continue to audition for roles and is also working with a small group of artists formed of DMU students to create performances by local talent in Leicester.
The Way is made by Red Seam for the BBC in association with Little Door Productions. International distribution is by ITV Studios and additional funding support has been provided by the Welsh Government via Creative Wales.
Posted on Friday 2nd June 2023