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The Musketeers - Simon Allen and Simon J Ashford Q&A

6 May 2016

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© BBC Pictures

Many thanks to showrunners Simon Allen and Simon J Ashford who generously offered to answer fans questions about Season Three. Please be aware that as some, or all, episodes have aired in various countries already, there may be some spoilers in the comments below from other fans. There are also some teasers in the interview itself due to the kinds of questions asked. So if you are wanting to remain unspoiled whilst waiting for it to air in your country, please take care.

What shows, either current or ended, have inspired you in your work, and are there any that you wished that you had a hand in making?

Simon J Ashford: I grew up with great action-adventure genre TV (for its time) like ‘The Avengers’, ‘The Saint’ ‘Robin of Sherwood’, the old ‘Doctor Who’ and of course the original ‘Star Trek’ – all those things filter into your soul. Make you’re the writer you are today. But today is a golden age for great TV drama – we can all learn from Breaking Bad or Games of Thrones…

Simon Allen: We’d both would have killed to have written ‘The Sopranos’.

Aramis and Porthos friendship – they are my favourite pairing in the show, will there be much Portamis interaction this year?

Simon Allen: Keep watching – episode one answers some of that…

Simon J Ashford: we mix it up a little this year but that playful antagonism still there…

How involved are you with the casting of the guest roles, and are there any teasers you can give us about any possible returning characters?

Simon Allen: Episode 4

Simon J Ashford: James Callis!

Simon Allen: And a former Doctor Who in the same episode!

Are there any cameo appearances by the crew, or any other ‘Easter Eggs’ we should look out for?

Simon Allen: Lots of Easter Eggs actually!

How would you sum up the character’s journeys this year?

Simon J Ashford: Each of the Musketeers goes on a journey of self-discovery and eventually find a new and different place in the world beyond the Musketeers (though if the call should ever’ll always be all for one!).

Simon Allen: I’ll give you one word for their journey: EXCITING!

What are the showrunners most excited for the audience to see this upcoming season?

Simon J Ashford: Lucien Grimaud played by the brilliant Matthew McNulty - and the new world we and the cast and crew have created. Paris is a character in this series.

Simon Allen: The Villains of course! They’re our babies. But how our wonderful regulars react to the meanest bastard they’ve ever come up against.

What's in store for Aramis and Anne? Since they have a child together, I guess they will always be bond to each other, so will we see their relationship develop in series three or did their storyline end in the series two finale?

Simon J Ashford: They thought it was all over. Aramis ran away to a monastery for goodness sake! But they have such a fundamental connection there’s a whole third act to their love affair…

Simon Allen: It’s beautiful to watch it unfold.

Angie Hewitt
How does the third series compare with the other two series in terms of the dynamic of the lead characters - will we see a return to seeing the brotherhood and friendships that typify what the musketeers is about and more stories about their relationships with each other?

Simon Allen: It’s a new world. A seething, rebellious Paris, at odds with itself, is our backdrop now. What the Musketeers have seen in the war has changed them and what they come home to (the thing they’ve been supposedly fighting for) unsettles and disturbs them.

Simon J Ashford: They’ll have different opinions about what’s going on and how to deal with it. But the bond between them is deep and solid. The brotherhood endures.

Will experiences of war make d'Artagnan move away from being regarded as the young hothead that he was in S1 and S2?

Simon J Ashford: He’s still impulsive and quick to action but his judgement has matured. War has made him grow up.

Simon Allen: There’s still that passion but it’s been tempered by experience. He’s an even more formidable fighter now.

With reference to the rumoured time jump/s, is S3 more horizontally plotted in order to follow more the central characters vs the single ep storyline?

Simon J Ashford: It’s much more serialized.

Simon Allen: The time jump to four years later has given us the opportunity to reboot the world - but the complicated relationships and their consequences (as with Anne and Aramis) remain.

What challenges did you face taking on the role of lead writers and show runners for a show that's in its third season and what are your ambitions for this series?

Simon J Ashford: Adrian Hodges left us with a fabulous sand pit to play in. Inevitably we’ve moved the sand around and built our own castles. The world has changed but the characters we all love are still at its centre.

Simon Allen: We’ve given the show a real boost of energy, excitement and danger. Nothing can be taken as read in this world.

What’s in store for Porthos?

Simon J. Ashford: A lot! Porthos is the musketeer that questions his role away from the war, away from being a soldier defending his country. He doesn’t know why he’s been dragged back to Paris when there’s Spain to defeat.

Simon Allen: But there are major enemies in Paris! And if Paris falls – France falls. It’s a massive mission.

Simon J Ashford: He even finds a little romance as the series progresses…

Black Canary
My question is whether there will be further background stories (maybe even flashbacks?) of the characters

Simon J. Ashford: Somebody from Aramis’ past appears in Episode Four and Bonnaire returns of course.

Simon Allen: But we wanted Series Three to have lots of forward momentum. It’s very much about the here and now of a divided Paris.

Would the producers/writers/actors be open to the idea of returning to the world they've created in the future to fulfill some of the later material (ie. Twenty Years After, The Man in the Iron Mask)?

Simon J. Ashford: We’d love that!

Simon Allen: Grimaud was originally going to be the Man in the Iron Mask.

Simon J. Ashford: But I shot that down VERY QUICKLY. But if we could get the gang back together one day – yes please!

One thing I'm very curious of is the dynamic between the Queen and the Musketeers. In S1 the boys and Treville have unmasked the Cardinal and his attempt to kill her, exposing him to her, while the King was left oblivious. In S2 things went some steps ahead since the Queen referred at the Musketeers as her friends and they basically plotted together on how to proceed with Rochefort. I REALLY liked the way it all had been handled, and again the King was the last one to know. (And not even the whole truth, luckily and obviously.) So I was wondering if in this third season we will see another progression or simply the result of this "special bond" between the Queen and the boys (plus Treville). It's like they gained the privilege to talk to her in a more direct and honest way because she knows she can trust them under any aspects.

Simon J. Ashford: There are many times in this series where the Musketeers are her only friends. And there’s the Aramis story to deal with….

Linda Groundwater
How much input the actors have into the actions/dialogue of their characters? Do they suggest changes?

Simon Allen: Oh yes!

Simon J. Ashford: We had a very good rapport with the cast and were always collaborative. We always listened and, to be fair, so did they.

Simon Allen: I think my favourite notes came from James Callis. Jess Pope and I did a wonderful call with him on a Saturday night where we went through Episode Four line by line. He really went for it in that episode as you’ll see! During the call, my wife kept bringing me cups of a tea and I was constantly mouthing ‘it’s Gaius Baltar! I’m talking to Gaius Baltar!’

How do you deal with re-writes that need to happen throughout the show due to different circumstances?

Simon J. Ashford: It varies from block to block. On a show like The Musketeers it’s common practice for showrunners to give every episode a polish before it goes into production.

Simon Allen: And for us, as showrunners, to field the notes from actors.

Simon J. Ashford: That’s mostly about tone and whether or not the characters sound authentic. We created the storyline for every episode with our Story Producer, Script Editor and Exec Jess Pope. These were then given to the guest writers.

Simon Allen: And there a couple of difficult scripts that needed a complete rewrite but that was more about the process than the writers involved.

Dee Binkies
I want to know if there's a chance for season 4, and whether or not someone dies in season 3. I want to know if the show really has a 2nd time jump after the initial 4 years.

Simon J. Ashford: No chance for Season 4 I’m afraid.

Simon Allen: We knew this was the final season as soon as we got the greenlight. We can’t say anything about deaths.

Simon J. Ashford: Other than the fact that there are some!

Simon Allen: And there’s no second time jump!

Debz Anstey
What were your favourite episodes from Series 1 & 2 and also what are your favourite costumes?

Simon J. Ashford: the new Musketeers uniforms in Series 3 are pretty sexy.

Simon Allen: I liked ‘Commodities’ from Series One (which is why we wanted Bonnaire back so badly). And I love all the costumes! We’ve been so lucky with designers - first Phoebe then Hayley. Amazing!

Simon J Ashford: ‘Commodities’ was a great favourite with us all and I loved ‘A Marriage of Inconvenience’ in Series 2.

Milady's return was quoted as 'later in the series' intrigued to know where in the storyline she returns and what impact that has on the future episodes.

Simon J. Ashford: When we first started planning Series Three (way back in November 2014) Milady was a huge part of the story. We were going to see her get everything she’s ever wanted: wealth, status, power and then lose it all again! And thing about what might’ve happened when she found out Athos had a new lover...!

Simon Allen: When we got the news that Mamie wouldn’t be available for most of the season we had to rethink. We were delighted for her as friends but devastated as showrunners! We stayed in touch with her and everybody moved Heaven and Earth to try and get her back.

Simon J. Ashford: We’re so grateful to Mamie that she was able to give us a few days in the final block. She returns in Episode 8 and we pick up where we left off.

Simon Allen: There’s a question mark over her - is she the cold-blooded killer the world takes her for? Or is she more? That story runs right through to the last moments of Episode 10.

How is the relationship between the King and Queen since season 2? Does any of the Queen's Family/ Friends from Spain or Austria appear in season 3?

Simon J. Ashford: It’s strained. Louis is focused on the Dauphin. He’s investing everything in his heir, the future of France and so he’s neglecting the Queen.

Simon Allen: Louis’ brother Gaston joins the show in Episode Three - he’s played by Andre Flynn who is brand new and amazing!

Simon J. Ashford: And his sister appears in Episode Four.

Gabriele Fritz
Will the 4 musketeers have the same connection to each other even when Athos is captain now? Will there be any promotional activities with the actors before starting Series 3 or perhaps live tweets when airing single episodes with the actors?

Simon J. Ashford: They’re still friends and brothers but we do play a tension between them. Athos makes decisions that the others don’t always agree with.

Simon Allen: Quite early in the series, the Musketeers begin to realise that they may be on the wrong side of the fight. They are still men of great honour but their journey across Series Three is all about questioning what that means.

Simon J. Ashford: They go from being the King’s Musketeers to the People’s Musketeers!

Simon Allen: As for promo activities, we have a press screening this very week with Luca, Tom, Matthew McNulty and several other cast members. I believe Rupert is going to do some interviews for us and there’ll be a trailer on BBC One in the next couple of weeks.

Simon J. Ashford: Other Simon does twitter, I don’t. I have a life.

Simon Allen: That’s true! I’ve seen it! I’ll try to live tweet if I can.

Jutta Freudig
Will The Musketeers start on BBC America before any other country airs it? Do you know which other countries will be airing season three?

Simon Allen: We’ve been so remiss in answering these questions that it already has transmitted in lots of other countries! From what I gather, we’re going out on Hulu instead of BBC America.

Simon J Ashford: I understand this was a commercial decision made by BBC Worldwide who financed the show.

About the Author - Sandi
Sandi is part of the Senior Staff at SpoilerTV having been a contributor from back in the Lost days of DarkUFO, and who now writes previews for Banshee, The Musketeers, Poldark, and other UK shows. She also enjoys watching and commenting on other shows such as Vikings, Orphan Black, Game of Thrones and The Flash.
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