Disney’s The Lodge: Sophie Simnett and Thomas Doherty on starring in ‘the new High School Musical’

Ahead of brand new Disney series The Lodge, its lead stars who play Skye and Sean tell BT TV about rock climbing, mountain biking and looking up to Olivia Colman.

It was exactly 10 years ago that Disney spectacular High School Musical burst onto our screens, creating overnight stars of its lead actors Zak Efron and Vanessa Hudgens.

Now this Friday, The Lodge is hoping to do exactly the same. Airing in over 100 countries around the world, the cast of this brand new 10-part musical drama is headed up by Sophie Simnett (Skye) and Thomas Doherty (Sean).

Before they’re catapulted to superstardom, BT TV sat down with the pair to discover what’s in store for them in The Lodge…

Hi Sophie and Thomas! Can you tell us a bit about The Lodge?

Sophie: So The Lodge follows the story of Skye, who’s my character. She’s a city girl and moves from the city to her family’s country lodge The North Star with her dad after the death of her mother, and you see throughout the series her navigating the way through everyday teen issues. So she gets into a love triangle, she has to deal with making new friends as well as running her own lodge – as well as having a song and dance and a bit of rock climbing and a bit of mountain biking.

The Lodge

What about your characters, Skye and Sean?

Thomas: Sean and I are quite similar. I think when I was 15 I feel like I was very similar to Sean. Very active, I’ve always been really active – and quite a cheeky chappie, which is nice. He’s carefree, he comes from a very wealthy background. And I’m quite a carefree person – I don’t let stress get to me. But he’s a sensitive guy and you see that in the series – he does have a soft spot which is nice!

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[Disney's The Lodge: Skye introduces us to all the characters]

Sophie: I think I’m quite similar to Skye, too. She’s tomboyish and she’s gawky, a bit of a geek but her friends are really important to her, and I’m the same as that. The only difference is I think she’s a bit more sensitive than I am!

The Lodge

High School Musical had dancing… The Lodge has adventure sports!

Thomas: Definitely. It’s a massive part and is a big theme within The Lodge. Sean wants to be a professional mountain biker, so that’s heavily-featured. And we’ve got rock climbing as well, there’s kayaking at some point and then obviously there’s dancing as well, which has been amazing.

Could you do mountain biking or rock climbing before, or did you have to learn them from scratch?

Sophie: I had to learn to rock climb, which was very eventful! I’d never done it before and myself and Luke Newton who plays Ben went to a climbing centre in London to practice, and on the first day I was so scared I said to them ‘I’m not going past halfway’.

The Lodge

Obviously Luke’s much bigger than I am, and we didn’t take this into account and the fact that I have to pull him down so once Luke got up and he pulled me, I went shooting up one side of the climbing wall! But actually I ended up really enjoying it and I would really like to go back and do it again. When we actually went outdoors and shot it was so much more enjoyable than doing it indoors…

Thomas: I learnt completely from scratch. I was saying to the guys, when we were told about the series we knew it would be quite active – obviously the first thing you compare it to is High School Musical so we thought it’d be a sport like football or rugby or something, so when we were told it was mountain biking it was quite surprising. When I first heard it, I thought it would be quite easy. But we had about six weeks training just outside London doing mountain biking and it’s really hard – so hard! I had rock climbed before (although not properly!) and kayaking was amazing but very cold. Although I am from Scotland, so I am used to the cold!

The Lodge

Right from the start there have been comparisons to High School Musical. How does that feel?

Sophie: 10 years ago when I was seven was when it first came out. That was just the life – that’s all we talked about at lunch! It meant so much to me and everyone at school. So to be able to be part of a show which might have that impact on kids and teens is just huge.

Thomas: It’s exciting! It’s very different to High School Musical because it’s a British production, if you like, it’s quite different in that sense. But it’ll be nice to compare parts and stuff. I’m glad it’s not the same – I was quite worried it would be very, very similar to that, so it’s nice to make your own stamp and do your own thing.

Are there any Disney stars that you both look up to?

Thomas: Zak Efron. He’s had such a wonderful career and is so cool.

Sophie: From seeing Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens go from Disney to do really serious roles – it’s a good jump and I’m really inspired by that and to do such varied roles. I quite like the idea of setting my own path and I also get inspired by actors like Olivia Colman.

The Lodge airs on Friday September 23 at 5.30pm on Disney Channel (BT channel 480).

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