What is your personal fear or nightmare?
My name is Fay Roberts, and I play Alice “Daisy” Tonner.
Doing the Buried episode was difficult because I’m not someone who’s great with confined spaces but, you know, I’ve learnt and managed most of my phobias, I have to say. But the ones that have survived, having beaten off confined spaces and swimming pools and wasps – I’m a lot more chill about wasps than I used to be – zombies and clowns.
And obviously a combination of the two, so there’s zombie clowns as a particular ‘get that the fuck away from me’ thing. Some of this comes from a series of nightmares I had – this is going to sound utterly unbelievable – but basically I had a series of zombie apocalypse nightmares, from the year 2000 up to the year 2016, whereupon they stopped – make of that what you will.
So, short version, zombie clowns. It’s that whole Uncanny Valley thing, I think. You can tell from the body language that they’re not happy, but they’re painted to look happy, and everyone else is laughing around you. Nah, that’s disturbing.
I’m Lydia Nicholas, and I play Melanie in The Magnus Archives.
What my personal fear or nightmare is, kind of, depends on how you’re defining the terms. I had developed a really terrible phobia of spiders as a child when I accidentally broke a spider egg sac with my toddler hands, and this wave of thousands of semi-formed spiderlings burst out, and were covering my hands and my face… and the first thing that spiders do when they hatch, is they release a thread so they can float away in the wind. So, of course they, like, floated into my face, and got in my mouth and eyes and stuff.
And I mean, that was terrifying. No doubt. And I was, like, sickeningly, scared of spiders for a while, but I was able to work through it over the course of many years, of trying to push myself to get closer and closer to them. Until eventually I can kind of play with spiders now.
So even stuff that scares me like that, I kind of see a route to overcoming. Even if I haven’t overcome it yet. But the thing that I absolutely cannot get over is [the] sense of eco-terror, of extinction, I guess. The sense of everything being dead, of things being lost that can never be regained or rebuilt. You know, the slow work of millions of years of tiny creatures building up coral reefs, just being ripped to shreds by dragnets. Like that sense of loss is something I still have nightmares about, I guess.
My name is Chioma Nwalioba, and I play Annabelle Cane in The Magnus Archives.
My personal fear is that one day something might happen, somewhere, I don’t know what, that would leave me feeling incredibly lonely, with no friends or family. And, I dunno, it’s something that really scares me because I feel like no-one deserves to be lonely.
Everyone deserves to have someone, and the idea of not having someone… I find so scary.
Hello. I am Ben Meredith, and I play Elias Bouchard in The Magnus Archives.
The one that I am willing to talk about is a fear of the sea, because the sea is terrifying, because it’s huge and absolutely doesn’t care, and will just kill you, really quickly without really any indication.
And also you can’t see what’s in the sea. So, genuinely one of the freakiest experiences is being in shallow water, not wearing any shoes. Because I know about lugworms and stuff, and they’re horrible. And the things that come from the sea are cool, but also have evolved in a completely alien environment to me as a land person.
And so are just deeply, deeply unsettling.
Have you had any sinister or supernatural experiences?
Hi, I’m Alasdair Stewart, and I play Peter Lukas, Tim’s favourite kayaking instructor, the enigmatic aikido sensei who taught martin how to live again, Martin’s other dad, and the unsung hero of The Magnus Archives, that kind of thing.
When I was a kid getting ready for school, my dad and I heard someone flushing the toilet in the upstairs bathroom. Now, given that my mum was getting the car, which was not in the upstairs bathroom, and no-one else was in the house… that was interesting.
Same house, different year, I was drifting off to sleep when a female voice – very sweet, kinda young, definitely not my mum, definitely not my sister or gran who didn’t live with us – said, “Hello.” My entire body locked in a spasm of existential terror. And I couldn’t open my eyes, because what if I did and someone was there? When I finally did, no-one was.
A few years after that, before I learned about pareidolia, the condition where we see or a perceive pattern that is not there, I was absolutely convinced there was someone standing behind a tree, on a wall, outside my bedroom window in our holiday flat in York. Stone-still, slightly larger than a human would be, outlined by the streetlight, and defined by the leaves. Not moving, just watching me.
Oh, I also once saw a ghost flicker into existence, head-to-toe in sections, like a rotating sign. He seemed like a nice chap, he smiled at me. I have no idea what any of these experiences were. I do know there are rational explanations for all of them. And I know, especially at night how the brain can perceive light and space and time very differently. So if these were paranormal experiences, I’m both grateful to have had them, and even more grateful they were finite.
Hello everyone. My name is Evelyn Hewitt, and I am the voice of the Not!Sasha on The Magnus Archives.
One summer I was given the summer job of painting an atrium at a large countryside hotel. This was one of those large country mansion wedding venues, and they wanted beautiful lime/lemony sandstone vista painted in their hallway to look like some sort of Mediterranean courtyard.
So I was painting bricks all day, but at night I was allowed to stay in the hotel. So that I could get my full day’s work in, and save me having to get a lift from my dad back and forth each day. So… at night, I would sleep in this hotel alone, say for the caretaker who lived in a little house off-site, and I would have the run of the place.
And it was echoey long corridors, dark corners, small noises and creaks, and sounds in this very, very old house. And I even found – I hadn’t known about this – but I found a secret corridor, behind a bookshelf. Very, very spooky. I thought I’d discovered it for the first time, but when I found the accounts boxes hidden away in the secret cupboard, I realised it was just a storage cupboard rather than some forgotten tomb or anything like that.
I’m Ian Hayles, and I get to play the wonderful Trevor Herbert in The Magnus Archives.
I lived in a place that was very, very old, and we had things happen, you know, doors would open by themselves… One really weird thing, an entire cabinet of glassware filled with water, not the cabinet, but all of the glassware filled with water, and it wasn’t like, oh, there was a leak in it.
I remember this so vividly. It was when I was a child, and all of the glassware filled to the brim with water. We spent, like, the afternoon having to clear it out. That was a weird one. Yeah, I’ve, I’ve had spookiness. I’m spooky…
Do you engage with horror as a genre?
Hi, my name is Mike LeBeau, and I play Timothy Stoker in The Magnus Archives.
[Laughingly] No! I, no, I do not engage any more than I have to engage. I really don’t like horror. It’s not my genre. Like, I appreciate horror. And when my friends want to go watch a horror movie, I’ll go with them. When they want to watch one on Netflix, I’ll watch it. Like, during Halloween, I will play scary games on Twitch, but as a person, do I choose horror?
No, no, I absolutely do not choose horror as a genre. Genuinely no.
Sue Sims, I play Gertrude Robinson in The Magnus Archives.
I like some horror. For me, it’s a sub-genre of fantasy, and I do enjoy fantasy a lot. I’ve never been a great fan of what you might call ‘flesh horror’. Horrible things happened, you know, people get skinned alive, and all this sort of stuff.
I was teaching once in a comprehensive, in outer London, in Barnet. Seven times a week English wasn’t fun, particularly this Year Eight and then Year Nine class. I had them last thing on a Friday afternoon, which any teacher and many pupils will know is not really a time you get the maximum benefit out of actually teaching.
So, in order to control this rather rowdy class, I used to promise them that if they behaved well during the week, I would read them a horror story that Friday, each Friday afternoon. They adored horror, and the grimmer and nastier and fleshier the horror, the more they liked it. I used to go around all the charity shops, buying things called The Second Pan Book of Great Ghost Stories and… and The Third Fontana Book of Terrifying Horror Stories and things like that. And I would actually look through to find the nastiest stories I could find, and they absolutely lapped them up. The more intellectual type of horror, they didn’t have any time for at all, which I prefer.
My favourite author in the genre is M.R. James, who I think is astoundingly good. I loved Lovecraft when I was in my twenties or late teens, early twenties. I think I’ve rather grown out of him now. He’s too fond of emotive, empty adjectives – words like ‘horrifying’ and ‘terrifying’ and ‘gruesome’ and all the rest of it. And I prefer the slightly more subtle way of presenting things.
I love horror. I have a thesis that horror is the first genre that we engage with as human beings, because most of the fairy tales we know are horror tales. You think about Little Red Riding Hood. That’s a horror tale. That’s basically a slasher picture with a final girl. You’ve got things like Snow White being poisoned and being brought back to life.
And when you actually read the actual original Grimm’s Tales, it’s even worse. There’s some even worse horror tropes in there, especially with Snow White. So, yeah, absolutely. My favourite horror films are things like Poltergeist. It’s a brilliant horror film, very scary for something that is supposedly a family film really. Love that kind of thing. I do engage with it.
My name is Sasha Sienna, and I play Georgie Barker on The Magnus Archives.
Being married to Jonathan ‘Spooks-a-lot’ Sims, it is very hard not to engage with horror as a genre.
I used to be a primary school teacher way back in the years of distant past. And so I have a very good understanding of Goosebumps, which has actually made me surprisingly genre literate. I really have a lot of time for Goosebumps, and I’ve always enjoyed quite a traditional spooky ghost story, of a kind of Victorian Christmas fire type. But I’d say since being involved with Magnus, and obviously since living with Johnny, I have become a lot more genre-aware and, by necessity, a lot more kind of immersed in the wider genre.
I really like horror that’s also comedy. I’d say that’s my favourite. I really liked things like… What We Do in the Shadows is really more comedy that’s about horror tropes. But things like a film called Housebound, which is more like a horror film but that is funny. I really enjoy stuff like that.
What is your favourite or a funny memory of being involved in The Magnus Archives?
This is Frank Voss, and I voice Basira Hussain in The Magnus Archives.
[Deadpan] No, I’ve never once had fun. It’s been dreadful, nothing enjoyable has ever happened.
[Laughs] No. Casper stealing a bag of treats from me or something. That cat is wily. He laid down in my lap, was being super cute. And then the second I let my guard down, he snatched the treats from like next to me and ran off.
What I’ve been enjoying recently is hearing the outtake stuff, some instances of which I’d actually forgotten. So it’s been really nice. ‘Oh yeah. That’s mine. That’s me. Okay.’ Sometimes in Daisy voice, sometimes in me voice
But I have one which I’ve shared on social media again recently, where it was the scene with Breekon and Hope, the one where Daisy gets chucked in the coffin. And I had to do hysterical laughter on cue, which turned out so realistic that they, at least one of the actors thought I was corpsing, and was put off and thought that we had to start the scene again.
And like, after a while, he was like, “Oh, oh, you’re, you’re acting.” “Yes. Yes, I am.” “That’s really realistic.” So that one kind of stays with me, but in terms of favourite… [giggles] Oh, it was for my first recordings of Season 4, and Entombed was as intense to record as I’m sure you can imagine, it was a lot. So I came downstairs, going, “Need a cup of tea. I’m not going to drive home straight away.” And people had gathered to be recording Rusty Quill Gaming.
And that was the first time I met Helen, and she had said that she’d started getting into Magnus as a fan. And then there’s a bit where we realised that we didn’t know each other – and I think it was either Johnny or Alex introduced us – and she did a full Macaulay Culkin / The Scream, clasping her hands to her cheek and rocking backwards from where she’d been sitting on the floor going, “Daisy’s alive!”, which was the best, best response. I think I just went, “Spoilers!”
I think my favourite memories of Magnus are the early ones. Me and Johnny under a blanket, just making each other absolutely crack up, while Alex begs us to stay on track, and then getting him to actually crack himself a few times.
I think it’s incredible how with the work of editing and, I mean, it’s always the case, I suppose, in media production, the amount of fun that we have doing it, doesn’t always come across in the immediate format where all the characters are so serious and scared and angry, but I think the fans still have picked up how much real joy we get out of working together.
So somehow that comes across and, yeah, that means most of the memories are me laughing with my mates over stuff that, honestly, doesn’t work as a story because it’s just, just being daft with people I love.
There are loads of times in the studio where funny things happen, like, you get things like flubs and stuff like that. Or, you know, if someone screws up a line and you’re like ‘ah, ha ha, what did you say there? Ha ha ha’. You know, there’s stuff like that. And that’s always a good time. If I were to pick a specific memory. It’s a little bit morbid, but one of my earliest funny memories of Magnus was in Season 1 when Lottie’s character, Sasha, became the Not!Sasha.
And I remember being there when we were literally piling so many duvets on top of her. I don’t know if at the point this is released, the Rusty Bits episode will be released, but there is actually footage of that happening that I shot on my phone at the time. And, I just remember, like cocooning her in these blankets, and me and Ben and Alex were just stood there, looking at each other the entire time, like, ‘Is this going to be okay?’
Like Alex had to pre-warn all of his neighbours that this was going to happen. And then we had to get very serious, obviously, because Lottie had to do the scream, which we were all inevitably waiting for. But yeah, when she came out, she was just, she was just so humble. She was like, ‘Can you get me out please?’ Or something like that. I just broke down laughing. I, I can’t believe, I didn’t record that bit. I actually only recorded the scream, but like, it was ridiculous, and we all laughed about it, like, loads and loads afterwards.
So if I were to pick one particular memory, that would probably be the one, like there was so many in between, but that would be the one that stands out for me.
What are your thoughts on the fan response to your character?
Astonished joy. Yeah, I think that about covers it. The direction Alex gave me for the character the first time I sat in for him was Kilgrave from Jessica Jones as played by Stephen Fry, and I absolutely ran with that. I don’t think either of us expected Peter to be anything more than a one-season character, that everyone would be really happy to see yeeted into the heart of the sun, but he’s still here.
And it’s great. The nights of the big Peter, the fan response, the glorious fanon about Peter and Elias. Shout out to my Internet Husband, Ben, it’s all been so welcoming and so enthusiastic, and it’s all just so ridiculously well done, that I’ve been in a state of pleased awe for basically the last two years.
So many amazing fans have done nothing but make Marguerite and I feel welcomed, and that’s astounding and it’s brilliant. And did I say thank you yet? If not, thank you.
Hi, my name’s Imogen Harris, I play Helen Richardson. The fan response to my character is, I’m just blown away. It’s extraordinary. The level of creativity and imagination and collaboration and brilliance of the fans, I just…
I suppose my route to Magnus was through improv, which is how I came to know Johnny and Alex and Hannah and everyone. And as I’m sure you know, the golden rule of improv is ‘Yes, And’. So you take what someone else has done, you affirm it, and you add to it. And the fans are just the most beautiful example of ‘Yes, And-ing’ that I’ve ever seen. Just the way they’ve built on and enriched and enlarged and expanded. It’s just, it’s really amazing. And it’s, it sounds like a cliche, but it such a privilege to be a tiny little part of that.
It has been absolutely lovely. I’m feeling so overwhelmed by how loved Annabelle is. And I just think it’s so brilliant when I look at all the fanarts that come out of it, I’m just like, wow, everyone’s so talented. Annabelle looks stunning and I can’t wait to dress up as her one day because she, obviously, she’s got so much style. She’s amazing!
Unsurprised, I would say because everybody loves a good villain, don’t they? You know, if you think about Jafar or Scar or, to a certain extent, Gaston or, you know, any of the sort of like classic sort of Disney villains, and the general fan response to those.
Yeah. I am broadly unsurprised by it, and I think it’s lovely that people enjoy the character that I play. I mean, I don’t want to be specifically told about everything that they enjoy about the character that I play, but the fact that they enjoy it, is fine. [Laughs]
How did your first recording compare to your last?
My first recording was very different to my most recent recording, because, apart from anything else, we were in a studio and now we’re all recording at home. So it’s a very different situation. In my first recording, it was the first bit of audio voice acting that I’d ever done before. Mostly I’d been performing live on stages and things.
So I came to it with – I don’t think that Alex or Johnny would have said the word stilted, but only because they’re being quite polite, but there’s a particularly different way of speaking when you’re acting live on a stage to, when you were acting, doing voice audio work, because on audio work, you want to make her seem more naturalistic. So I think the first time that I did that, I did the recording, it sounded probably quite put on in context.
When I first started recording with Magnus, it was nearly four years ago, now. It’s really gone so quickly. And it’s strange to look back on those memories of recording in people’s living rooms and under duvets and people’s hallways, and look to where Magnus and Rusty Quill have arrived now… it feels genuinely like the end of an era for this show that really started out as a passion project, and has just come a very long way.
A lot has changed between first recording and the last, for instance, in the first one, I was in someone else’s house with a blanket over my head. And right now I’m in my own home wrapped in a blanket. So it’s a continual process of evolution and change. Yeah.
The first recording I did, and indeed one or two ones after that as well, were in a situation where there was really no proper recording studio. The first place I went was a flat in Hackney belonging to a friend of Alex. The actual recording was in the little corridor leading from the living area to the front door and the bathroom was off it. And in order to get a really nice absorbent – what everyone’s calls it – soundproofing quality, they were duvets hung all over the place. One point, one of the duvets fell off. Then we had to stop the recording and start it again. So, yes, well that was a very different situation.
Give a ten second pitch on why your character should survive, or be resurrected, for the Season 5 finale.
They’re on their way to destroy a wannabe good that has destroyed reality. What possible word could better describe John, Martin and their merry band than being, oh, so very lonely.
You want Daisy because Elias is a loose thread. She’s already proved that she can hurt The Beholding. So you want her. You really do.
[Helen-voice] Do you need a door? Come on. You always need a door.
It’s fucking Tim. [Laughs] Am I, am I allowed to say that? Am I allowed to leave that as my answer?
It’s Tim! Like, duh, of course he should be resurrected for the final.
Gertrude is rather like the Coward in… described in Julius Caesar. “The coward dies many deaths before his own. The brave man dies but once.”
But I don’t think Gertrude is a coward. And I think the fans like her, so I think I ought to come back. And if I didn’t, I might just come to visit you.