Gugu was born in Oxford, England, she appeared in TV series Bad Girls, Bonekickers and Doctor Who. In 2013 She starred in Amma Asante's film Belle.Followed by starring in Gina Prince-Bythewood's film Beyond The Lights. Also starred in Jupiter Ascending, Concussion, Free State of Jones, Miss Sloane and Beauty and the Beast.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, best known for portraying Martha's sister Trish Jones in Doctor Who, plays Viv. She is the new intern who joins Gillian's group of archaeologists fresh out of university.
Viv is an idealistic enthusiast – wide-eyed and eager. But she also has another, secret agenda, which is linked to Gillian. Viv and Gillian's destinies are intertwined, and Viv gradually becomes more mysterious and suspicious…
Gugu gives her own description of the character: "Viv tries hard to make a good impression on the team and to get as much experience as possible. So she's very enthusiastic and keen to fit in. But her relationship with her boss Gillian can be tricky.
"Gillian seems to regard Viv as a bit of a whippersnapper – she doesn't have much time for her and can be a bit cold towards her. It is fair to say that Viv's main challenge through the series is to prove herself to Gillian."
How does Viv evolve as a character, then? Gugu, who has also featured in Spooks, says: "Viv develops by gradually becoming more accepted within the team. When she arrives, she's unsure of how to fit in with the team. She's observing a lot of the time because of her lack of confidence and knowledge. But she does eventually have her 'hero moments', and they help shape her place within the team."
While Viv's relationship with Gillian is a challenge sometimes, she finds support from other quarters.
Gugu reveals: "Ben is a little warmer and more supportive towards Viv, and Gregory is old-school charming - a bit lechy sometimes, but in a lovely way! Gregory's also a very good teacher; he has read Latin and has great knowledge. He's a teacher with a twinkle in his eye."
Gugu has a lot of experience with history teachers, having studied the subject at A Level. So, in her expert opinion, what makes Bonekickers such an effective proposition?
She says: "The originality appealed to me, and I was also moved by it. I love history, it's a subject of tremendous interest to me. I really enjoyed studying it and so to see it work in this way as a drama is great."
She goes on to talk about the influence history has on how we live today. "It's so important to find out about our past to understand who we are now, otherwise we go around in circles. Bonekickers makes continual references to the past and the present – that's what archaeology is all about."
The actress reckons there is a lot in this series that viewers can identify with.
"The public are really interested in archaeology now," she says. "It's about the possibility of doing it yourself, the prospect that you might find something right under your feet, that you personally can actually touch history, hold it up and see where it came from. That's amazing."
So, will we be seeing Gugu anytime soon in a field near us?
"It has sparked my interest, and I did watch a few Time Teams!" the actress confirms. "But I'm also working on the Channel 4 drama Fall Out written by Ray Williams, so there won't be time for much digging in the near future!
"But thanks to Bonekickers, my eyes have been opened more to history and archaeology – especially when it comes up in the news. While we were filming, there was a piece in one of the broadsheets about some tablets that were found – which just makes you realise how much the history beneath our feet is part of our world today. It continues to be so important. And that's why Bonekickers will have such resonance."
BBC Drama today announced full details of an all-star cast for Bonekickers, a new six-part drama series for BBC One.
Julie Graham (Dalziel & Pascoe, William And Mary) is Gillian, a feisty Celt who heads up a team of archaeologists working out of Bath University.
Adrian Lester (Hustle, Ballet Shoes) is Dr Ben Ergha, a forensic expert who brings an objective understanding to the team, Hugh Bonneville (Miss Austen Regrets, Tsunami) is the encyclopaedic but terminally louche, Professor Gregory Parton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Spooks, Tish Jones in Doctor Who) is the eager, young, post-grad intern, Viv Davis.
As a team their skills combine under a variety of imperatives to extract bodies, books, weapons and all manner of artefacts which lead them into an investigation of the past that will unlock dangers and mysteries in the present.
From the excavation of murdered 18th century slaves to the possible discovery of the True Cross, each episode is a window on a period of history but, more importantly, a reflection on how we live now.
Running through the series is a greater puzzle that Gillian keeps to herself for fear of ridicule – the hunt for the greatest treasure in the history of Man, a hunt that drove her brilliant mother insane, a hunt that pits her wits against her academic nemesis, the arrogant, urbane TV historian Daniel Mastif, and that will culminate at the end of series one in a desperate race for glory which may destroy her in the process.
From Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah (Monastic Productions), the writers and creators of the hit series Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes, and Michele Buck and Damien Timmer of Mammoth Screen, Bonekickers is a thrilling adventure series packed with historical mystery and contemporary relevance.
Based in fact, the series has on board the expertise of Dr Mark Horton, Head of Archaeology at Bristol University, a specialist in the archaeology of historical societies around the world and Bonekickers consultant on the factual evidence and background to the relics featured in each episode.
Polly Hill, BBC Commissioning Editor for Independent Drama, comments: "Bonekickers takes history and archaeology and makes it sexy, accessible and exciting."
Bonekickers is being produced by Rhonda Smith (Fairy Tales, Marie Lloyd) and executive produced by Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah of Monastic Productions and Michele Buck and Damien Timmer of Mammoth Screen.
The drama is commissioned by Jane Tranter, Controller, BBC Fiction.
Bonekickers begins filming in and around Bath this month and will transmit on BBC One in spring 2008.