Aisling Loftus: Playing the lead role in Dive

Actress

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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