In 2015, Ruben Reuter began his regular role of Finn McLaine in the CBBC show The Dumping Ground, and has continued playing Finn over the years, including in the new Series 10, however, he was only able to appear in a few episodes throughout the pandemic due to shielding rules. Recently, Ruben played Dan in the BBC Three comedy pilot Mobility, which can be seen on BBC iPlayer, where he works with Jack Carroll (who co-wrote the show) as Mike and Zak Ford-Williams as Sonny, with Mobility following three disabled students travelling on the same bus to sixth form. Further screen roles for Ruben have included Young Otto in this year’s short film The Puppet Asylum and Shane in Series 4 of Kay Mellor’s The Syndicate. Along with acting, Ruben is also a reporter for Channel 4, and has been involved with the Channel 4 documentary Disability and Abortion: The Hardest Choice as the co-host with Ruth Madeley and the CBBC documentary series My Life for the episodes Breaking Free and The Real Dumping Ground. Speaking to us, Ruben told us about his regular character of Finn McLaine in The Dumping Ground, filming as Dan in the BBC Three comedy pilot Mobility and working with Channel 4.
You play Dan in the new BBC comedy short film Mobility, currently streaming on BBC iPlayer, can you tell us about the film and your character?
Well, it’s a ten-minute comedy pilot for BBC Three. It’s about three disabled lads who travel to sixth form on the same mobility bus. They’ve been friends for a long time and this is their first journey together after a summer break – so there is a lot of news to catch up on. My character, Dan, is easy-going and cool – he’s good at one-liners and enjoys the banter with the other lads.
How was it reading the script for the first time and how was it playing Dan in the film?
When I read the script, I laughed and smiled a lot! It has swearing in it and was very different from anything I had done before. I really loved playing the part of Dan – he’s very Yorkshire and so am I!
What was it like filming alongside Jack Carroll (as Mike) and Zak Ford-Williams (as Sonny) and what did you enjoy most about working on Mobility?
We made a connection straight away because we did some improvisations, which were really good fun. We had a similar taste in humour and made each other laugh and the crew, writers and director laughed a lot too. It was interesting to film because we spent the whole time in the back of a bus. The bus was rigged onto a truck which drove around Huddersfield – we kept passing the end of my road and I could see my house. Once, I even spotted my mum putting the bins out!
Why would you recommend watching Mobility and who do you think will enjoy it?
I think it’s funny – it’s pretty laddish – so if you like that kind of humour and don’t mind the swear words, you should enjoy it. It is unusual because all of the cast are disabled and you don’t see that very often on TV. I really hope they commission a series.
In 2015, you joined the cast of The Dumping Ground as new regular character Finn McLaine, had you seen the show before auditioning and do you remember how you felt getting the role?
I had always been a fan of the show. I did two auditions and had to wait quite a long time to hear whether I had the part or not. I remember being on holiday in Devon when my mum got the call to say I had the part – I couldn’t believe it and didn’t realise how it would change my life.
When I went up to meet everyone for the first time, it was my birthday and all the cast really welcomed me and made me feel at home. The show was filmed in Newcastle so I had to stay away from home and miss school.
How would you describe Finn and what is he like to play?
I love playing Finn because he is friends with everyone. Finn has had some good storylines like the one where he met his imaginary dad or the one where he met his real birth mum. The writers look at what I love to do – like swimming and dancing, and they use that to build my character. In the last few episodes – I love the way the costume department have started to give Finn really funky clothes!
Having originally left the show in 2021, you have recently returned as a regular in the new Series 10, how was it rejoining the show and getting back into character?
I didn’t really leave the show. I wasn’t able to film in Season 9 because I was shielding through COVID. I started filming but then had to stop. It was a really tricky time for me because I was the only one who couldn’t film. The writers brought Finn back in as soon as they could. I was so pleased and quickly got back into being Finn.
What is it like on the set of the show and being part of the cast?
Everyone works like a team – so I don’t get nervous because the cast and crew are very friendly. Honestly, its like being a part of a big family – I have made lots of friends there.
What are some of your stand-out highlights from filming for The Dumping Ground so far?
I loved Finn’s swimming storylines because it gave me chance to show off my real-life skills. Also, I had an episode with Derek Griffiths, when Finn was on work experience in a hospital and Derek played a patient. He was so great to work with – I learnt a lot from him and he was really kind to me.
Is there anything you can tell us about the short film The Puppet Asylum, in which you play Young Otto?
Well, it’s pretty scary because it is a horror film. I loved working with Paul Kaye, who plays The Master – he is cruel and frightening in the film but really lovely and kind in real life!
How was your time playing Shane in Series 4 of The Syndicate?
It was an exciting project for me to work on because it was my first bit of adult drama and I was very excited to work with Kay Mellor, the writer, but also a really good director. What a privilege. Working on The Syndicate taught me a lot and gave me new opportunities to work with brilliant actors like Katherine Morley, who plays my sister, and Kym Marsh, who plays my mum. It was filmed in and around Leeds so I could stay at home and travel in every day.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
My mum and dad run a theatre company, so I grew up watching them do shows and being part of it all. So, I suppose I learnt lots without realising it. I used to be in their shows and videos sometimes, which was fun. The Dumping Ground was my first acting job and before then I had done some presenting work for CBBC.
Alongside acting, you work as a reporter for Channel 4, what is this like to do?
It is really different from acting because there is no time to learn lines or rehearse. It involves lots of travelling around the country and meeting new people. It can be a bit hectic because we have to hit deadlines but I really enjoy it. I love choosing what outfit I am going to wear – I like to look cool!
Do you have a favourite aspect of reporting for Channel 4 and how did you get into the reporting industry?
I work with a filmmaker called Rosie Baldwin, who is really brilliant. We work well together. I love doing different types of reports – I like to meet people with all kinds and types of disabilities but also love the eco reports like going to COP26. I was asked to do the first report after COVID because Channel 4 wanted to report on the effects of COVID on disabled people. I was asked by a production company called Hey Sonny if I could help on the report and it started from there. I had worked with Hey Sonny before on some CBBC projects. After that report, they asked me back to do more and I said yes!
Can you tell us about the Channel 4 documentary Disability and Abortion: The Hardest Choice and how was it seeing the viewers’ response to the release?
It was a difficult documentary to make because the subject is so complicated and everyone has their own opinions. It was important to show all sides of the subject but it was hard not to be controversial. In the end, we realised we had to just listen to everyone’s point of view. I still find it confusing – it’s not as black and white as we thought at the beginning. We thought it was important to get people talking about it and raise awareness.
How did you find the experience filming the documentary and how was it working on it with Ruth Madeley?
I actually got COVID in the middle of filming and so did the producer so we had to reschedule it all –that meant it ended up taking quite a long time to finish. Working with Ruth was great – she is a lovely, funny and kind person. I would love to work with her again because we got on well together and she is very generous and helpful.
We understand you’ve previously been part of the CBBC documentary series My Life, what was this like to be involved with?
I’ve done two documentaries for My Life. The first was when I was only 12. It was called Breaking Free and featured three young people with Down Syndrome – their challenges and achievements. The second one, The Real Dumping Ground, was when I visited institutions for disabled children in Moldova. That made me realise how lucky I am or how unlucky they were to not go to school or have a family to love them.
Do you have any favourite films and TV shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from your career?
My favourite TV series are Merlin, Doctor Who (I am a real Jodie Whittaker fan), Around the World in 80 Days, and His Dark Materials. I love all kinds of films – my favourite film is Jumanji. I love musicals like Hamilton and In the Heights (I love Lin-Manuel Miranda), 21 Chump Street, Kinky Boots, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and my latest favourite is Newsies.
When I am not working, I swim for my local squad, I dance with Northern Ballet’s Ability Group and I volunteer at my local leisure centres teaching disabled children to swim. I keep fit with CrossFit, running and table tennis. I go to the gym and I help in the garden. I love my music technology and film editing. I also play poker!
What are you hoping 2023 brings for you?
I hope to stay fit and healthy so I can try out new experiences like going to a music festival or going clubbing in a big night club! I would love to do a travel programme – my ambition is to go to Vancouver.
I would love to do some more TV acting parts – I am really hoping that Mobility gets commissioned – fingers crossed!