The Walking Dead is ‘a soap opera like any other’

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The actor who plays Jesus in The Walking Dead has told Newsbeat “it’s a soap opera like any other” – and could continue for a long time to come.

The show has passed the 100th episode mark and is nearing the end of its eighth season.

But with viewing figures taking a significant hit some fans are questioning whether the format is starting to wear out.

Tom Payne, though, insists that’s not the case.

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British actor Tom Payne has played Jesus on the show since season six

“People die, people laugh, people cry – it’s just like any other show”, he’s told Newsbeat.

“It’s like Eastenders… with zombies.”

“Days of Our Lives is on its 45th season now. I don’t know whether we’ll get that far, but I’m sure they’ll try.”

“It’s a universe now. We have two main shows (The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead), there’s video games – and I’m sure there’ll be many more off shoots to come.”

Eastenders has been on TV since 1985 – airing more than 5,000 episodes.

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Tom, who’s 35 and originally from Essex, made his name on The Walking Dead. Even so – he says he’d be hesitant about signing up for a spin-off based around his character.

“One of the reasons why I’m an actor is that I don’t want to do the same thing every day.

“Being in a long-running series is great because it gives you so many opportunities – but at the same time it’s a bit desk jobby: you go to the same place every day, you do the same thing and you play the same character.

“So unless you have a strong storyline you’re kind of just turning up and being there.”

The TV show is based on a comic book of the same name but the two aren’t strictly bound to each other – many characters feature in the show who aren’t in the comics, and vice-versa.

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Pollyanna McIntosh is another Brit in the cast – she’s from Edinburgh

The Walking Dead has amassed a huge cult following since its first series aired in 2010 – and this means, for fear of leaks, even the cast are kept in the dark about their characters’ fates.

“Working this way is scary and confusing and challenging,” Scottish actress Pollyanna McIntosh – who plays Jadis – says.

“On other shows I’ve always known what the ending was for me.”

Steven Ogg, who plays Simon, agrees that being on the show changes things for an actor.

“If you like working in the moment it’s great because you have no choice – you honestly don’t know what’s going to happen,” he says.

“So when people ask me why I play the character like I do, that’s not me being a great actor – it’s just me trying to keep the playing field open.”

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Steven Ogg says the cast are ‘very lucky’ to work on the show

With a big following often comes some more extreme fans.

Many cast members have stories of viewers getting their signatures – or even faces – tattooed on their bodies.

The actors say their experiences are mostly positive.

“We have these amazing moments where people come up and tell you about someone they used to watch the show with who’s now passed away,” Tom says.

“More than once people have walked away and I’ve had to take a moment to stop myself from crying.

“It’s bigger than a TV show to a lot of people – so any time I turn up to work and I’m moaning about some stupid thing I just think about that.”

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“I used to not get it,” Steve adds, “but some people go to football games and it brings them great joy – and this show is just like that.”

“So, hey, wow – to be part of that is something very special and we’re very lucky.”

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