Adjoa Andoh has said she is happy to be “the gateway drug that takes [audiences] from Bridgerton to Shakespeare”.
The actress is known for her work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as her role as Lady Danbury in Netflix's hit series Bridgerton. Reflecting on the variety of characters she has portrayed, reaching a wide range of audiences, Andoh told the PA news agency: “I think if it’s a good story, it’s a good story, full stop.
“So I really like audiences to step out of their comfort zone and be surprised by something new perhaps. And if I can be the gateway drug that takes them from Bridgerton to Shakespeare, let me be that person. I’m really happy to do that.”
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For her latest project, Andoh narrates the latest series of the BBC’s Serengeti. The dramatised natural history programme follows the “love and loss, jealousy and rivalry, tragedy and triumph” of the animals living on the Serengeti in northern Tanzania.
As the narrator of the programme’s third series, Andoh reflected on why she thinks she was chosen for the role. She said: “I can do voice stuff. I can do it in my sleep."
“I love it because if you want to test your acting chops, when you’ve only got your voice you can’t do a fancy dance, or pull a face, or cry. It’s a real challenge because you have the be the narrator, and is that a narrator with an opinion? Are you doing a science fiction? Is it set in Africa? Is it set in Wales? Is it a crime? Is it romance? I can do all of that because I love all of that stuff.
“And I love putting myself in the story and thinking… It’s the imagination of the writer translated through my voice into the listener’s ear and it’s so intimate, and there’s nowhere to hide.”
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Andoh, who is also the voice of the BBC adaptation of The Smeds And The Smoos, explained how her background as a stage actor found its way into Serengeti, adding: “You know, one of the glorious things I find with Shakespeare is there is a Shakespearean quote or speech or story to every occasion of your life.
“Whether it’s the greatest joys or grief or rage or confusion or revenge or hurt or thinking about nature or thinking about time and what it is to get older, young love. Everything’s in there. So I guess I think about life and there’s always a Shakespeare thing that attaches to it for me."
The upcoming series will see an enormous fire rages across the Serengeti plains, forcing all the animals to flee or seek shelter. In the wasteland left behind, Bakari the baboon, Kali the lioness, and Mzuri the leopardess must draw upon all their resources to stay alive.
Familiar characters from previous series are joined by new cast members, such as Utani the mongoose babysitter and Mafuta the baby hippo. More than 1,000 days of filming were used to capture the behaviour of the animals in the series, with the narrated storylines designed to illuminate their daily struggles from a first-person viewpoint while ensuring they reflect their real behaviour and are faithful to the known biology of the animals.
The series, created by Emmy-award winning producer Simon Fuller and directed by John Downer, was previously narrated by Star Wars actor John Boyega.
Serengeti III starts on Sunday, BBC One, 4.35pm