Honor Kneafsey interview

Honor Kneafsey Plays June Mottershead

June Mothershead
Honor Kneafsey as June Mothershead

Tell us about Our Zoo.

It’s about a family who has this passion to make a zoo, make Chester Zoo a place where families can spend time with each other.

How would you describe your character?

June is fearless; she doesn’t care if she gets bitten by the animals. She worries about the animals more than getting hurt by them.

Tell us about the family?

We’ve got Lee Ingleby, he’s playing my dad, George Mottershead, then we’ve got Liz who is playing my mum –– then we’ve got Anne Reid who is playing my grandma, Lucy. Then we’ve got Peter Wight who is playing my granddad, Albert and Amelia Clarkson who is playing Mew, who is my sister and then you’ve got me.

What’s June’s story in the show?

She wants to have a zoo, she wants all these different animals and is determined to help her Dad. At one stage she gets a bit down and doesn’t really want to help her dad because her dad is getting a bit stressed about it but at the end, she really wants to have a zoo, see all the animals and have all the animals in her life. She wants the same opportunities as her dad, she’s determined to get this zoo opened, and she will do anything to get this open, have all the animals, make sure it’s safe. She doesn’t want to lose. She wants to show that Chester can have a zoo and is really determined to make it work.

How did Mortimer come in to June’s life?

Her Dad saw these two animals and they were going to get sold and he didn’t want that to happen so he took them. That’s how Mortimer came in to the story and June obviously just liked it and became big friends with him. Like an instant bond, like it was going to happen, it was destined to happen.

Were you excited to work with so many animals?

I didn’t know how I was going to be with Mortimer because it’s not the normal thing where you just have a monkey on your shoulder. The first meeting I was a bit shocked because I was not sure what it was going to be like, but I worked with him for quite a long time now and I’ve got so used to him.

How did they train you to work with the monkey?

We went to the Amazing Animals and I got to see him. The first time I was just walking around to get comfortable with him. I did have my shoulder up a bit wonky because I didn’t know what they were going to weigh. They were heavy first of all for me, I thought monkeys were going to be quite light. It was heavier than I thought.

Have you met the original June?

Yeah she’s just so lovely. Just listening to some of her stories that she told me. She took me to the zoo and showed me the house she lived in.