Hotel Babylon – second series coming soon to BBC One
Michael Obiora plays Ben Trueman, Receptionist
Michael Obiora's girlfriend noticed some distinct changes to his character during the filming of the first series of Hotel Babylon.
"Playing the gay character of Ben really brought out my feminine side and my girlfriend really liked it," he declares.
"She said I smiled a lot more and in particular gesticulated and used my hands more when I spoke as well as being more considerate to her, so she really liked my camp side" he laughs. "She also thinks I take more time over my appearance now which is really interesting."
"The whole show is heightened in every sense and I must admit I was tempted to really 'Will and Grace' it but I had to pull back from totally camping it up."
"It is great to be back in Babylon and knowing that audiences really liked it is just so encouraging. We aren't as nervous as we were the first time round and we are having fun celebrating a successful show ... and just having an opportunity to expand the characters is cool!"
"I feel like I've completely settled into the character of Ben – the first series I spent getting to know him but I feel we see a new confidence emerging in him now and he gets his own strong storyline this year which pushes Ben to the limit," he explains.
"Being able to expand on Ben's background and bring it into his workplace gives Ben a history that allows the audience to learn more about where he comes from and what he believes in."
Essentially Ben's sexuality is tested when an old friend reappears at the hotel and Ben is forced to hide his gay identity to protect himself.
"For the first time we really see Ben pushed beyond his boundaries – he is vulnerable and on edge and doesn't like what he is doing to himself. Essentially he wants to be true to himself but when his friend turns up he is thrown drastically off-course and it takes all his strength and character to pull himself back ... it surprises his colleagues," he declares.
Ben gets on with most of his colleagues, but finds his ultimate partner in crime is still Anna.
"He is a great character to play and has a lot of fun on reception particularly with Anna and this year they understand each other a lot more.
"He respects Anna's bitchy side and as a gay man he can totally appreciate where she is coming from, her sense of glamour and her desire to be adored. And there is a glimpse of her caring side when she brings Ben food when he has to work during the Christmas party."
Michael's love of acting began early when he landed a role in the much loved children's drama Grange Hill.
"I have been acting now for 12 years, since I was seven, and working professionally from the age of 9 when I got a part in Grange Hill as Max Abasi who played the Tuba in the school band – he was a real geek. I ended up there for five years."
But it was watching Michael Jackson's Bad world tour that really cemented his love for performance.
"I was three years old and I remember asking my mum why Michael Jackson had to jump over a fence to get away from all the people chasing him – they were fans – and mum said he does something that everyone likes ... which stuck in my head," he explains.
"I remember going to Nigeria where my family come from and I jumped at the chance to perform on stage. Afterwards the villagers pressed money upon my skin which stuck to me and my mum immediately sent me to drama school when I got back to the UK."
Michael has been amazed by the reaction to Hotel Babylon around the world and is still getting used to being recognised in the street.
"I was so surprised and unprepared for the recognition and the fan mail that came from Australia as well as here. Apparently the Australians loved it!
It's really great to know that so many people appreciated the show. I hope they like the second series as much as the first," smiles Michael.