Elliot Knight and Estella Daniels interview - Sinbad

Brand new adventure series comes to Sky One on Sunday

This weekend Sky One airs the first episode of new flagship adventure show ‘Sinbad’, which tells the story of the cursed ‘Arabian Nights’ hero banished to the seas of the Indian Ocean. It’s a fantasy tale of magic and monsters, and an expensive gamble for Sky.

Even more so because its leading man, Elliot Knight, is an unknown. This being his first role out of drama school the pressure is on, so we caught up with him and his co-star Estella Daniels, who plays Nala, to find out how filming in Malta was and how the newcomers dealt with the pressure.

Elliot Knight as Sinbad (Credit: BSkyB)

This is your first role and you’re now on the side of buses and on big ads around the country, what’s that like?

Elliot Knight: “It’s a very strange situation to be in when you have pictures of you topless everywhere and people thrusting them in your face all time. There was some training. I didn’t have a lot of time. There was two weeks between me getting the job and being flown out to start filming so it was just two weeks of intense whatever I could do and then in between filming finding a place on the ship to work out, or wherever it was.”

Was it a glamorous filming location?

Knight: “I don’t think glamorous is the word. It had its moments. We did spend the summer sweating in front of each other - which isn’t that glamorous. It was fun. Hard work but fun. When it was summer it was hot, when it wasn’t summer it was not hot at all!”

Estella Daniels: “That tends to be the case when it’s not summer. (*laughs)”

Knight: “Well there you are, so glad you’re here. It was a great place to film, definitely.”

We heard earlier today [at the press screening] that you were running through a shopping centre when you got the part?

Daniels: “He actually took me to the exact spot!”

Knight: “It was my sister’s 12th birthday and we were in the Trafford Centre in Manchester, and I had basically been told, ‘You will find out either Thursday or Tuesday‘, because it was the Royal Wedding weekend I think. It was Saturday so I thought it wasn’t going to be today, but my agent called me and told me I’d got it. I was so not expecting it that I just screamed and ran around. I didn’t know what to do because that never happens!”

This is your first major part out of drama school and now you’re the face of this series and a whole ad campaign. That must have weighed on your mind before and during the filming, how did you deal with it?

Knight: “I knew that it was a role I’d love to do no matter what and if I got the opportunity I’d never pass it up - not in a million years. Most people spend their whole careers looking for a role like that, I know I would have, so I felt really fortunate to have the opportunity.

“That’s about it really. I love doing it and I don’t worry about it because worrying doesn’t achieve anything. I just crack on with the job. It was just a lot of fun mainly.”

How have things changed since the filming? Obviously most people haven’t had the chance to see it but have you been recognised or had more offers?

Daniels: “Well for the first time the other day I was with my sister in another shopping centre and there was one of those stalls for Sky where they sell it to people. We were walking and I saw me, just topless on one of the doors. I was stood there thinking, ‘This is so weird’. And nobody else knows. It’s weird.”

Estella Daniels as Nala (Credit: BSkyB)

What was it like filming with a lot of CGI?

Daniels: “It’s unusual to film definitely, but it’s one of the most fun things for an actor to do if you like it - and I did which helps because I did a lot of talking to things that aren’t there.”

Were you talking towards ping-pong balls or...?

Knight: “No, nothing. They put something there to give you an eye-line and then like, ’Right, look there,’ then they take it away again.”

Daniels: “That’s how tight the budget was! (laughs) Not really though.”

Did you do your own stunts? If so how was it learning how to do them?

Daniels: “I did ALL of mine! All of them! (laughs)”

Knight: “All one of them! I did everything that they would let me do. That’s half of the fun of it for me, I love the physical side so I did everything from jumping off the ship, off the cranes, fight scenes, underwater scenes. Yeah, it’s all part of it, it’s all part of the adventure.”

What wouldn’t they let you do?

Knight: “I wasn’t supposed to climb up the wall but I did. Then when I was at the top the producer came onto set and was like ’GET ELLIOT DOWN!’ But I was already up.”

Any injuries?

Daniels: “Well I did get burnt by some coal...”

Knight: “In an inconvenient place! (laughs)”

Daniels: “But other than that no - plain sailing.”

Any problems with sea sickness or swimming?
Knight: “We didn’t have to worry about sea sickness to be honest because the ship we filmed on wasn’t on the water, they built a ship from scratch which was next to a big deep tank and they shot as if it was on the water with a turn table to spin it round.”

Daniels: “Swimming? Well... I couldn’t. Still can’t. I had to learn pretty fast.”

How was it if you couldn’t swim?

Daniels: “Sometimes if you lie, then you have to get yourself out of the lie. So if you tell a director that you can swim then you better learn quickly! That was basically it, and I’d do it again!”

Cheer up mate, you're a TV star now (Credit: BSkyB)

Does this tell the complete story of Sinbad?

Knight: “Oh no no no, the great thing about it is that there is no complete story to tell. There isn’t set rules about a start and an end point, we can do what we want and we wanted to do what was right. There are a lot of questions that maybe people won’t be aware of that aren’t answered in the first episode or the first series, that hopefully we will get to explore because there’s a lot of depth and magic and mysticism behind all of the characters - especially Sinbad who isn’t even aware of it yet.”

Did you have to turn anything down to do the show?

Knight: “I’d be so lucky! I had to say no to my in-house drama school play, which was tough. I think I got the part four days before we were due to go on so that’s all it really disturbed.”

Anyone at your drama school we should be looking out for?

Knight: “Yeah, in the year above me was an actor called Bradley West who’s currently playing Sam in ‘Game Of Thrones’, so it’s been a crazy couple of years for the school.”

Final question, what’s the body looking like since filming finished?

Knight: “The first week I got back from filming, every night it was a takeaway! Seven days, every single takeaway I could have. And that is my answer.”

Also starring Naveen Andrews (‘Lost’) and Timothy Spall (‘Harry Potter’), ‘Sinbad’ hits the high seas Sunday 8 July at 7pm on Sky One.