With the new TV series A Kind of Spark releasing on BBC iPlayer and CBBC earlier this year, Caitlin Hamilton played Nina, one of the lead characters in the Elle McNicoll screen adaptation alongside her on-screen sisters Lola Blue as Addie and Georgie de Gidlow as Keedie. A Kind of Spark marks Caitlin’s first regular character on screen, and she attended the show’s premiere as well as being a guest on BBC Breakfast and CBBC HQ. Last month, Caitlin appeared in an episode of EastEnders as Becca, and with previous stage experience, she appeared in the UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In 2019, Caitlin joined the National Youth Theatre, and she graduated in 2021 from LAMDA, having studied their foundation Acting course. Speaking to us, Caitlin told us about working on A Kind of Spark, having Nina as her first regular character on screen and performing on the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat UK Tour.
In the new CBBC/BBC iPlayer series A Kind of Spark, you play Nina, can you tell us about the character and what is she like to play?
Nina is the older sister to Addie and twin to Keedie. Unlike her sisters, Nina is Neurotypical and feels left out from the special bond her sisters have. She is popular at school and has her own makeup channel that she LOVES. As we go through the series, we see Nina’s vulnerability emerge and the cracks in her “super confident” appearance begin to show. Through meeting Frank, Nina becomes less guarded and discovers how her behaviour hasn’t supported her sisters and actually created more obstacles for them. To play Nina, I modelled a lot from my sister. I am autistic myself and my sister Neurotypical. Due to this, I could structure the relationship of the sisters around what I had seen between me and my sister – only with Nina, I was acting in my sister’s position.
How did you find the experience on set of the series and what was it like working with the rest of the cast, including your on-screen sisters Lola Blue as Addie and Georgia de Gidlow as Keedie?
I have been extremely lucky with this cast and crew. Everyone was a joy to work with and very empathetic – which I think creates a beautifully positive work environment! Lola and Georgia are truly like my family. As soon as we first met, I felt a deep connection. With us all being autistic women, there was an unspoken understanding of each other through mutual struggles we had faced before even getting to know each other. I think that chemistry translates on screen through our relationship as sisters.
Had you read the Elle McNicoll book before auditioning and was there anything that drew you to the role of Nina?
I actually hadn’t read the book before auditioning! As soon as I booked the role, I read the book straight away in one sitting; it was incredible. I actually related a lot more to Addie than Nina, having dealt with Miss Murphy-like situations myself in the past.
How did you feel finding out you’d booked the role as your first regular character?
I was ecstatic! I had been auditioning for four years before getting this part. It was a journey of many rejections, so, when I booked this role, I was overcome with emotion and pride. Not only had I booked a series regular role, but it was for a show thats subject matter was so close to my heart and had a wonderful message. A glorious day.
What has it been like seeing the viewers’ response to the series and how does it feel telling the A Kind of Spark story?
It’s very moving. Lots of people have commented about how they can relate to what Addie experiences and see themselves in her. The fact that they feel understood is something I really could have done with when I was younger and may have even led to an earlier diagnosis for me. I felt very alone when I was younger and having a role model on television to normalise my experience, would have given me far more confidence.
How was it attending the show’s premiere and being a guest on BBC Breakfast and CBBC HQ?
Everything I could have dreamed of. I have found that I rather enjoy an interview! BBC Breakfast and CBBC HQ were big on my bucket list and to go to my first ever premiere was magical. All I can hope is that there are many more experiences like this to follow.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from your time filming Series 1 of A Kind of Spark that you can tell us about?
I think there were far too many brilliant moments! What I really enjoyed though, was going with Georgia to film Nina and Keedie’s shopping montage. It was just so fun to run around and be silly with each other – for work!
Why would you recommend watching A Kind of Spark and who do you think it will appeal to?
It is for everyone! We talk lot about the representation within this show, but you certainly don’t have to be autistic to enjoy it. The main story is an adventure and mystery – will Addie find out what happened to Maggie Frazer? Hopefully, through all the characters, everyone can find someone they relate to, as we cover the reality of many different aspects of being a teenager in the village of Juniper.
You played Becca in an episode of EastEnders last month, what was this like?
It was wonderful to have another role to play so quickly after Nina. Becca was fun to embody as she was studious, sweet and yet knew her worth when it came to dating! I was definitely more like Becca at school than Nina. I was slightly nervous about filming in EastEnders; I knew all of the cast had worked with each other every day for years and so I was worried I might struggle to slot in. However, everyone I worked with was lovely and spoke to me like I’d always worked with them.
We understand you performed on the UK Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, what do you remember most from working on the musical?
Honestly, the harmonies from all the songs! They are still ingrained in my brain even though it has been years. I think they might stay in my brain forever. I loved the atmosphere of being on stage; there was a big sense of unity amongst the cast.
Where does your love of acting come from and was it something you always wanted to do?
My love of acting comes from a lack of understanding social interaction and behaviour when I was younger. I didn’t know I was autistic at this point, but I was always extremely inquisitive and so I took it upon myself to learn this thing that came natural to others through watching films and copying out the scene in my living room at home. Once I had perfected all the expressions and timings, I would summon my parents to watch – as I was very proud. I enjoyed this and it made me feel like I could cope with life using this system. Little did I know, I was teaching myself how to mask. Turns out this is really useful for acting and, after doing a few youth group acting classes, I realised I had a talent and passion for acting.
Can you tell us about your acting training and about some of the other projects you’ve been involved with over the years?
Well, my first project was somewhat accidental. I played Jess Rush in Doctors at six years old. I was signed up to a modelling agency at the time and attached they had an acting agency that were looking for a little girl to play this part. They couldn’t find anyone on their books that looked enough like the mum and dad in this episode and so asked my mum if I would be interested in doing it. Of course, I thought this sounded very fun at six and agreed to take part and from then on, the acting passion was born.
In terms of training, I got into National Youth Theatre in 2019 and trained at LAMDA on their foundation Acting course, graduating in 2021. I was part funded by The Black Heart Foundation charity in order to pay for LAMDA – for which I am extremely grateful.
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch?
Killing Eve, Fleabag, Normal People, The Imitation Game and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I like to spend time with friends and family and my favourite thing to do is sing. I like to sing to de-stress and it’s fun to find new songs to learn. Also, now that I live in London, I enjoy going on walks to cafés and people watching with noise cancelling headphones on. I think next, I want to start doing archery more again!
What are you hoping this year brings for you?
I am hoping this year we get to film a Series 2 of A Kind of Spark and that I will also continue to be cast in many more fantastic roles!
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