Matthew Macfadyen plays Guy Lyon Playfair, who was sent to the Hodgsons house to investigate what was going on.

What attracted you to the project?

Timothy Spall and Rosie Cavaliero, both of whom I’ve worked with before. I worked with Tim on a Stephen Poliakoff drama called Perfect Strangers, and I did Little Dorrit with Rosie for the BBC. It always comes down to the script, though, which was well-written, fascinating and properly scary.

Were they the sort of scripts you could just rattle through?

That’s my litmus test, how quickly I can get through them. You know it’s a chore when you think, oh, I could be doing something else right now.

The Enfield Haunting isn’t just a jolty story about a mean poltergeist, either, is it?

No, it’s nuanced and beautifully written. It’s not a documentary, but a dramatic retelling, so there are bits which are teased and pushed in certain directions for the purposes of telling a story. I love everything to do with Maurice and his daughter. If it hadn’t been so delicately handled, it could have been quite naff.

How much did you know about the Hodgson case before you signed on?

I didn’t know anything about it and, stupidly, I didn’t read The House is Haunted, the book by Guy Lyon Playfair that the series is based on. I came straight from Ripper Street on to this and was a bit frazzled. They kindly organised for me to meet the real Guy, though, which was interesting.

What did you make of him?

He’s in his 80s now and absolutely fascinating. It’s always daunting when you play someone who is real, although I’m not doing an impersonation, that’s not the gig. I’m just taking what I fancy. Saying that, I hope Guy isn’t too horrified at what he sees. I’ll have to write a letter of apology. The Hodgsons’ story is very divisive. Some people believe them, others think they made the whole thing up.

What’s your take?

I have an open mind. I think the sensible stance to take in this situation is to be agnostic and go, I just don’t know. I’ve never experienced anything like it, but I know plenty of people who have and they’re not gullible. There was definitely something going on, it’s just unexplained. I’m certainly not in the ‘that’s all cobblers’ camp. That would be very short-sighted.

Enfield Independent:

Going back to your character, how would you describe Guy?

My Guy is not the same as the real Guy. He’s an odd bod, eccentric and posh. We wanted there to be a contrast with Maurice, so even though he’s quite geeky, there’s also something raffish about him. He rocks up in a velvet jacket and long hair. He’s not brilliant socially, though, especially with the kids. The real Guy was very fond of Janet and the rest of the family and he became good friends with Maurice.

What is Guy and Maurice’s relationship like?

It’s fairly antagonistic at the beginning because Guy comes in under the pretence that he’s helping the Hodgsons out when, in fact, he’s been sent by the SPR, the Society for Psychical Research, to debunk it. Then he realises that something is indeed going on.

How impressed have you been with the younger members of the cast, especially Eleanor?

We were talking about this the other day, the grown-ups that is. Eleanor and Fern [Deacon], who plays Margaret, are superb. They make me feel like an old ham.

Did you find any aspects of the shoot particularly challenging?

It hasn’t been challenging, it’s been fun because the writing is so good and you’re working with fantastic actors. Big scenes can be tough, like the time we shot a seven-page scene, but, then again, you tend to overthink shorter scenes. If you’re allowed to have a three or four-minute take, it feels like you’re doing a play. You forget the camera.

Talking of the camera, how did you feel about the man behind it, director Kristoffer Nyholm?

He’s a great fella and has got the loveliest energy about him. You can tell he actually likes actors. He’s interested and wants to talk. The shoot never felt rushed, like we were being shoehorned into a certain block of filming.