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Aisling Loftus: Playing the lead role in Dive

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Aisling Loftus Aisling Loftus | 10:03 UK time, Thursday, 8 July 2010

At 15, Lindsey is hugely driven, self-contained, astute and ambitious. In Dive, she is hoping to make it to the Olympics in 2012, representing Great Britain as a diver, and is not the sort of person you expect to be depicted falling pregnant.

When Lindsey meets Robert she's at a point when everything has been turned on its head at home. He's like the antidote to all the structure and discipline that had conditioned her life so far.

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Robert and Lindsey confess their love for each other

It took a while to get my head around that about Lindsey and the daily routine of a diver, what it asks of a person. Hour upon hour of practice, no lie-ins. I don't think I could put my body through that. It definitely says a lot about a person to have that kind of foresight.

All the dives you see in the drama were actually completed by Jenny Cowen, who is training for the 2012 Olympics. All I had to do was go through the motions before the dive.

Chris Snode (an Olympic diver from the 1970s and 1980s) taught me what to do and then I'd swim underneath Jenny. Sometimes she would do some amazing complex dive and the shot would be manipulated so I rose up from under the water and claimed it as my own.

Someone asked me, did I talk to other teenage mums to prepare for playing Lindsey? I didn't, maybe I should have. But I didn't feel like I was representing a demographic in how I portrayed Lindsey.

I felt an affinity with her and approached all the things that happened as unequipped as she was. Dominic Savage (the co-writer and director) kept things very organic like that, letting us just 'be' the characters and helping us to find the truth in them in the most natural way.

Aisling Loftus as Lindsey stands by a swimming pool

I didn't realise how good Dom was until we'd finished - at the time it just felt right. He would make sure Jack O'Connell and I were on the same page and then let the scenes sit with us. He wasn't precious about his script.

We were though- it's so truthful and such personal storytelling, Dom and Simon Stephens, the co-writer, are wicked.

I got cast after a few auditions - my final one was with Jack, who plays Robert. I think that was the point that they chose to have Robert and Lindsey from our native East Midlands, which meant we shot outside stuff in Skegness, which was great!

The rest of it was shot in Eastbourne and Watford. I think it was about getting that small-town feel and I got Lindsey's need for broader horizons keenly.

I loved working with Jack. He's got a real dignity as well as being a proper laugh. We both cut our teeth at the Junior Television Workshop together in Nottingham (along with four others in the cast) and so we had the same kind of attitude.

Ian Smith - Workshop's leader, a mentor, a paternal figure - encouraged us to take risks and only be inhibited by being emotionally truthful. No melodramatics, just get Robert and Lindsey real and honest.

My favorite scene is when Robert and Lindsey are sat at the table in their little flat, which all of a sudden seems too big and overwhelming. And I loved when I was filming with Ewen Bremner, I really value that time.

Lindsey, played by Aisling Loftus, lies on the grass with boyfriend Robert, played by Jack O'Connell

We did a particularly emotional scene together and I was feeling the emotion of it but it wasn't registering on my face, Ewen gave me great advice about adjusting my emotion so that it comes out more obviously. I've kept that with me and use it in auditions.

I don't think Dive has an agenda or casts judgment. It doesn't sensationalise teenagers or plonk an issue in the middle of the drama and have the characters illustrate it. Maybe some people will be less quick to make assumptions about the people behind a set of circumstances.

It's too easy to dismiss it all as naivety. I think it's braver to take that plunge into the unknown, even if it isn't wiser. But wisdom comes with age, I heard.

Aisling Loftus plays Lindsey in Dive.

Dive starts at 9pm on Thursday, 8 July on BBC Two and BBC HD. Please visit Dive's upcoming episodes page to find out dates and times of all episodes.

BBC Switch have been asking their readers to have their say on the storyline in Dive. You can read their responses on the Slink, the area of Switch for teenage girls.

Roger Mosey, the BBC's director of London 2012 has also written about Dive on his BBC Sport blog.


  • Comment number 1.

    Gave it 20 mins, dismissal, music awfully depressing and nothing happened v slow,, switched over.

  • Comment number 2.

    For a drama set in one town i have never heard so many diffrent accents.

  • Comment number 3.

    One of the most pointless things i've seen on TV, half of the time the 2 characters were walking in an alley holding hands. I was expecting it to go into more detail, the whole thing was a complete waste of time.

  • Comment number 4.

    Aisling Loftus for me is one to watch..a powerful drama actress..I really got into the head of the teenager who's life was going through a series of turmoils....loved the music...entirely appropraite and thought provoking...(what is that peace?)..for saure will be checking out the next part.

  • Comment number 5.

    ha! well i liked it. i liked the way there wasn't much dialogue from lyndsey. makes what she does say all the more powerful. heard that particular score a few too many times, but it is effective. some great camera shots aswell. surprised at the negative reaction. good to see a film like this being shown on bbc. i await part 2 with baited breath.

  • Comment number 6.

    I can see alot of people are quite negative about it saying its 'pointless' or 'dismal' but I think both Aisling and Jack have done it really well. As soon as I switched on the channel I couldn't take my eyes off it. Plus, she is really gorgeous :P

  • Comment number 7.

    OMG, re David Crabbietree’s comments above.. He said nothing happened in the 1st 20 mins so he switched off! HELLO.... "This is a two part drama". I guess that sums up today’s society, people looking for instant gratification “ALL THE TIME”. Well nothing much happened in the first 1hr of the “Dear Hunter” nothing much happened in the first episode of “The Wire” did he see those icons? Does he know about them, has he even heard of them?

    This contemporary drama had to show how un-spectacular the charactrs lives were, It's a contempoary drama" it hads to been seen because it introduced the characters and set up the plot for the drama to follow… and what a drama! It's about choices, fear, desire, love and consequences.

    Yes … it had a dark, hum drum depressing feel. However, I watched it to the end of the first episode and found it very emotional, thought provoking, brilliantly acted and brilliantly shot. In HD, the outdoor scene’s were fantastic. However, we did watch it on Freesatt with the descriptive audio commentary which did add something to those many thought provoking moments with Aisling Loftus. Can’t wait for the final part.

  • Comment number 8.

    I enjoyed Part 1, not the sort of show that is usually on primetime. Reminded me (in a good way) of the old Scene dramas that BBC showed in the late 90s.

  • Comment number 9.

    I really enjoyed watching Dive last night. I thought the acting was fantastic! Jack O'Connell, in my opinion, is an absolute superb actor, who keeps delighting me with every performance I have seen him in. Aisling was great too, she played the role of Lindsey so well. This drama brought lots of memories back to me of what it was like at school. Maybe, for some people there was not enough talking between Lindsey and Robert, but thats how most boys and girls act when they first start seeing each other, I know thats what I was like anyway! I'm sure we are going to see a lot more of Jack and Aisling in future roles. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it all ends.

  • Comment number 10.

    For Alans post above; The music used in the opening sequence is.


  • Comment number 11.

    I loved it, it was brilliant. After weeks and weeks of Football and that terrible James Corden's world cup programme, which is all thats ever on in my house, it was such a refreshing change. Loved the two characters very much and even though I am probably out of touch with young people it did remind me of my teenage years and feelings when my parents split up.

  • Comment number 12.

    I enjoyed first episode and look forward to second part. Thought the acting was very realistic. Agree that the music could be better. Does anyone know the name of the song BBC used in the advertising of the programme? as this fitted the clips perfectly.

  • Comment number 13.

    It’s interesting how one person can give something 20mins and another more then 10,000hrs to become an expert, maybe D.C who wrote an earlier comment on this site should take note that this play addresses the ‘dissonance’ between the goal and the journey. I’m not sure that being a a musician and a researcher in social psychology would have changed my opinion of both the score and the plot, to me it seemed so obvious, the music is in fact a key to the plot. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a score more appropriately composed. There are essentially two themes intertwined that appear to be operating at different paces, kind of like the characters who complement each other in a way which demonstrates that having nothing in common but affection, is ‘simply’ all that matters.

  • Comment number 14.

    very moving piece of drama, simple, sensitive and a great portrayal of hope ambition and love. The acting captured the emotions of dealing with responsibility and living your dreams perfectly

  • Comment number 15.

    Absolutely beautiful and heart felt effort...loved it! by the way the music is Max Richter - The Nature of Daylight in case any one is wondering

  • Comment number 16.

    Well it may have been beautifully acted and had lovely music but unfortunately it utterly failed to portray a realistic picture of an elite sporting performer's life. As one who has been involved in elite aquatics as parent/coach/official for many years I found myself constantly screaming at the tv. The pool scenes were ridiculous - at 7.00 am where were the speed swimmers training, the pre-work fitness brigade doing their early morning lengths, the other members of the diving club, the lifeguards? Are we seriously to believe that she did all her training in isolation, one-to-one with her coach, with exclusive use of pool/gym - and that her clueless, uninvolved parents (in reality it completely takes over your life)who were clearly not well off would/could possibly afford the megabucks this would cost? And it also beggars belief that such a passive, not very bright girl with no evidence of the necessary drive and motivation could have got to the elite level - and if she had managed it, by this time her focus on her sport and the Olympic dream would have been so all-consuming that she would have been off to the abortion clinic without a second thought.

    No, as a drama about two ordinary young people it would have worked brilliantly, but to give it the sporting angle with so little attempt to put it in a realistic context was just a gimmick which only served to annoy me and, I suspect, anyone else who has any involvement in elite sport.

  • Comment number 17.

    Fairly uninspired commentary of British teenage life. I can't help but notice similarities in the atmosphere created in most Shane Meadows films. Bleak. Can't fault the acting though, suberb.

  • Comment number 18.

    Thought that this was a moving piece of drama. Superb acting, great music and clever photography. Well done BBC - more of the same please!

  • Comment number 19.

    I enjoyed it, the two main characters were very good. BUT who on earth chose the awful music that kept jumping in at random times like a depressing dirge. Terrible choice of music.

  • Comment number 20.

    A huge thank you to Matt for pointing me to the score.. I have been looking all over for that.

  • Comment number 21.

    This was a very powerful drama about two young people having to deal with the trials and tribulations of modern life. I love gritty dramas and this was beautifully acted by very talented actors. Music was annoying. This aside, I was very disapointed by the writers take on diving. Diving is the happening sport of the moment due to the popularity of Tom Daley, I am sure this had something to do with the writer choosing this sport.

    I am a former international diver myself. I started when I was 7 and had to work my way up winning competitions to get noticed. I had to already be in the top 3 or 4 in the country and have represented GB to be even considered for selection onto the Olympic development squad. It takes year of dedication and money to get to the top. If you do not live near one of the countries centres of excellence, you have to move. It is all consuming and hard work especially during the school years having to balance both.

    You would never train in isolation on a one to one with your coach, it just doesn't happen. You would already be on one of the national development squads to even be considered. No pool anywhere would allow you in on your own with just your boyfriend. As Simon said, where was everyone. You cannot run a diving session without a lifeguard. In one scene, 2 girls were diving and the coach was in the spectators!!! Health and safety would have a field day if this was a real situation.

    The other thing I found strange was the fact that she trained in a pool with only a 1m and 3m springboard. So why did she go to Crystal Palace and dive 10m tower? Unless you have a 10m facility this is almost impossible. They are completely different disciplines.

    This drama could have been set anywhere and in any situation, sport or profission. I am not being harsh on Dominics writing, but if you are going to set a drama round a sport or profession then it needs to be researched. As a drama it was great but thought the dive angle was a disappointment.

  • Comment number 22.

    Loved this - the authenticity of the dive training world didn't bother me one bit - it was enough to show convincingly the commitment. Casting was excellent and it was beautifully shot. Especially good to see such positive representations of young people - especially the end where we find them together, not condemned to a hopeless future because of what has happened - rather moving forward positively.

  • Comment number 23.

    Absolutely loved this drama - as a 47 year old it was refreshing to see a drama told from the young persons point of view rather than that of the typical sterotype parents/adults view. The performance from Jack O Connell who played Robert was truly jaw droppingly good - that lad can act with an ability twice his years and reminded me of a young Tom Hardy with all his talent and more. Aisling Loftus's performance was understated and superb conveying more in one look than most actresses could with a page of script. Take this drama as it is, don't anyalise it just sit back and enjoy it for the superb piece of art it is.

  • Comment number 24.

    I enjoyed it - it was something different. People on the points of view thread I've seen have compared it with the old "Play for Today" from the 60s and 70s - it did have that sort of old-fashioned feel to it, that the drama developed organically out of the situation, rather than having to lead up to some kind of shock every ten minutes or so. I liked the way that all the characters were human - even Robert's brother the alienated, cynical soldier who had been in Afghanistan had more dimensions to him than I feared - after telling his brother to get rid of it, he ended up being much more supportive than his father and gave him some good advice.

    Also, a great performance by the two leads playing the teenagers! Thanks for giving us a different kind of drama, rarely seen these days on the BBC.

  • Comment number 25.

    I've thought about this drama today. Perhaps because I would like to have had that same dilemma in my teenage years. Depressing, for me because I don't have the love these 2 teens have.
    Yes they were stupid fools - straight after the biology lesson!! But that's what teens are - rebels. You get told to do one thing, you do the opposite.
    Yes their parents were right to be mad, and yes they will support them. That's what parents do.
    Ok, at the end of the day it is a drama and it paints a picture of hope, is it going to be a happy ending for them? Maybe?
    Hats of to the lead actors, Aisling is very beautiful, Robert although I didn't like him at first, grew on me. That Mansfield boy accent I guess. I also like the great supporting cast: Gina McKee, Eddie Marsan and Ewan Bremner. And good luck to the real diver Jenny Cowan!

  • Comment number 26.

    i thought that this was brill to watch i loved how i told the stories of both the main characters the parts were played great by jack and aisling they were fab i hope that they do a second part of dive to show what happens and if lindsey carries on with her diveing great acting well done

  • Comment number 27.

    Stunning quality drama, the best thing I've seen on the BBC this year. Fantastic acting from the whole cast especially from Aisling and Jack. Dominic Savage is a genius his work is outstanding. A beautiful piece of work.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hello, just had a read of people's responses. Thank you ever so much for the lovely comments about our performances - I will be sure to pass them on to Jack, he'll be well chuffed. It means an awful lot, it really does.
    I found ManoBanoE14's comment really interesting. I think what I like about 'Dive' is that it's not about titillating or glamourizing or sensationalising what is essentially a very local story. On the grand scheme of things, it's small fleck in a big world. I think thats why the score was kept very simple- there's no attempt at being epic and telling a typical cinematic depiction of love- even if it it shot quite cinematically- as joes_face, HarrisL referrenced!
    I can understand your comments, David Crabtree, Jules28, Splash7, regarding the music. Personally, I feel it works because I can't seperate 'Dive' from the music. I think its intrinsically part of the storytelling- kind of makes me think of a tentative optimism or something.
    Splash7 and Simon- am sorry that you didn't feel the training was accurate in your experience. I won't pretend I know the set up but I can promised you Dom and Simon spent over a year developing the script and we were being advised by Chris Snode who is a GB trainer. Maybe in less populated towns- Skeggy isn't very big- there would be less activity in and around the diving centre? I dunno. Either way I think its in order to illustrate a very isolated place Lyndsey is mentally bbrayshay referred to- hence why everything at home comes as such a shock. Its a pity it bugged you though, am sorry for that.
    And finally, to Matt Leyland, I get what you're saying- but thats the beauty of the East Midlands- (my parents are Irish for one) there's a real mix of accents. I think the 'native' accent was pretty well represented anyway by the younger characters, who'd have it from growing up there. The point was to have that small town feel I think.
    Thank you once again for all the feedback, its cool it got people animated whether they liked it or werent so keen! x

  • Comment number 29.

    Nice to see the comments from Aisling, I for one would like to congratulate you on your performance. I found it stunning and look forward to other performances. As for Dive, like most contributors, I found both episodes compelling viewing. I only found the first episode by chance, so perhaps worth a repeat on BBC1 as many people I spoke to missed it. Both lead actors deserve immense credit for their parts, accurately conveying the confusion and angst of teenagers in that situation. The rest of the cast, being some of our leading drama actors, were also excellent and shows then when good actors are given a good script,what excellent results they can produce. Well done BBC, licence money well spent, please spend more on things like this and The Street rather than aimless game shows!!

  • Comment number 30.

    I thought it was excellent portrayed very well by Aisling Loftus and Jack. I also liked the young boy and am sure we will see a lot more from him in the future. The music score was excellent and in keeping with the storyline. If anyone knows of the music title to the main part of the storyline i would very much appreciate that :)

  • Comment number 31.

    Hey i love this 2part programme and was wondering if its going to come out on dvd? x


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