The future is hiding out in Rascafría

New Spanish-British sci-fi television series ‘Refugiados’ will premiere on La Sexta in the fall

The cast of ‘Refugiados,’ from left to right: Will Keen, Dafne Keen, Natalia Tena and David Leon.
The cast of ‘Refugiados,’ from left to right: Will Keen, Dafne Keen, Natalia Tena and David Leon.

The hustle and bustle these days in Rascafría, a municipality of 2,000 residents in the mountains north of Madrid, is every bit as intense as the set of the popular fantasy drama Game of Thrones.

“It’s the countryside. To me it’s just the same,” says Natalia Tena, a talkative actress who cannot sit still. In the HBO production, Tena plays Osha, a wild woman who ends up as a servant and advisor to the Starks.

But now she is in Spain to deal with the future. The British actress, who was born to Spanish parents, is part of the cast of Refugiados, the new series that Atresmedia is co-producing with the BBC for the Spanish network La Sexta.

The actors are English. We didn’t want a mixture of accents”

Ramón Campos, executive producer

The project is as risky as it is new: it is the first homemade work of fiction for the station in three years. And the genre, realistic science fiction – or nearfy, as it is known – is not that common in Spain.

“We are unconventional about most of the things we do. We believe that La Sexta has the obligation to innovate and contribute something. This series is a real luxury for us,” says the network’s content director, Mario López. The station has partnered with Bambú Producciones, who hired a Spanish technical team and a British artistic team, and whose cast includes Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones, Harry Potter), David Leon (RocknRolla, Vera) and Will Keen (Holby City,The Wire).

The story begins with an unprecedented exodus: three billion people from the future travel back to the present fleeing a global disaster. The time travelers have two rules that they have to abide by: never speak about the future, and never come into contact with your own family. But with such a large group of people, there is always someone who is ready to break the law. Álex (Leon) is a strong-willed man who is ready to confront anyone or anything in order to save his loved ones. To do so, he knocks on the door of a conventional family, made up of Emma (Tena), Samuel (Keen) and Ana (Dafne Keen, Will Keen’s real-life daughter). The arrival of this refugee from the future will completely alter the family’s routine.

The genre, realistic science fiction or nearfy, is not well-known in Spain

“We are experiencing many population movements in our time. And we felt like showing how we react to outsiders. And how we would react if those outsiders were in fact our own children or grandchildren. The tone is nearfy at first, then it turns into a thriller, and there is a third sociological layer to it,” explains Ramón Campos, the executive producer at Bambú and one of the creators of the original concept.

The story will begin and end in a single season with eight episodes shot in English in the heart of the Madrid sierra.

“The actors are English. We didn’t want a mixture of accents. European experiences with co-productions where actors hailed from two different countries have not been positive. They always ended up with a voiceover,” explains Campos, adding that they will try to sell the series on the international market.

“But let’s make it clear that when we began with the creative process, we had La Sexta’s audience in mind,” says Sonia Martínez, fiction director for Atresmedia. “They are our main target. This series is more Spanish than it is British.”

To prove it, Refugiados will premiere in Spain in the fall.

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