The Version Interview... Luke Pasqualino on The Musketeers series 3.

After four years, a war-torn Paris has become a powder keg ready to explode. Refugees have flocked to the city in search of sanctuary. Food is scarce. Black market profiteering is rife. But the city's governor, Phillipe Feron (Rupert Everett), is only too happy to exploit it all for his own ends with the support of his Red Guard thugs and the amoral gangster Lucien Grimaud (Matthew McNulty).

Minister Treville's (Hugo Speer) repeated attempts to draw the King's gaze to the crisis unfolding all around him have failed, but when the Musketeers briefly return from the war, he sees an opportunity.

Ordered to the heart of this simmering urban precinct, the Musketeers are charged with preventing catastrophe, but they still have their own battles to fight. Aramis did not join the Musketeers on the battlefield due to his decision to enter a monastery. Despite D’Artagnan’s obvious joy at returning home to Constance, both have been irrevocably changed by war. Athos has uneasily taken the mantle of Captain of the Musketeers, a position that comes under threat when he meets disarming revolutionary Sylvie. Meanwhile, Porthos’s battlefield exploits have made him a hero, but he no longer feels he belongs in an almost unrecognisable Paris…

Series three shakes the Musketeers' values to the core. It changes their allegiance to the crown, turns their personal lives upside down and compromises their loyalty to those they love, as well as their loyalty to each other.

Luke Pasqualino tells us more...

Tell us about series three
Series three is set four years after series two, and Paris has been at war with Spain. It’s a completely different place and the Red Guard has taken over from the Musketeers on the streets. However, they are under the control of Governor Feron, played by Rupert Everett. Before, the Red Guards were just seen as a bunch of performing monkeys that were made to look stupid. Although there is still some of this to a degree, the Red Guard is now more of a force to be reckoned with.

What are the Musketeers like after four years at war?
To be able to survive four years at war – they’ve seen death and destruction. They’ve seen people they are close to die, friends and fellow Musketeers fall. However, they have also killed a lot of people, so they are hardened and they are tougher. To come back to Paris and to see the Red Guard running Paris is a bit of a blow, it’s not what they fought for. They fought for a better Paris, a better France. They come home after four years and realise everything they fought for was completely pointless.

Tell us about D’Artagnan in series three
He’s very affected by the state of Paris, it’s not what he fought for and he takes this personally. Constance is now in the garrison with the new cadets that she looks after. D’Artagnan takes them under his wing and I think that’s the birth of him becoming one of the greatest Musketeers ever to have lived, as is said in history, as it says in the books. In series three, he is on a journey to become the best, whether it’s to train other cadets or proving himself in certain situations, he’s fighting for the top and wants to make a better life for himself and a better Paris.

Tell us about the villains in series three
There are different levels of baddies in this series. Rupert Everett, who plays Governor Feron, is brother to the King. He’s a baddie but within the realms of Parliament. Then you have Marcheaux played by Matt Stokoe, who is the captain of the Red Guard and works closely with Feron, then Lucien Grimaud, who is played by Matthew McNulty. They are a trio of baddies but are all different. Grimaud is a dirty slum lord and wouldn’t think twice of killing you if you said his name wrong. He is summoned to Paris by Feron and they try to overthrow the King. There is a real ruthlessness to the villains this year, which has been explored in the last two series, but not to this level.

What about D’Artagnan’s relationship with Constance?
They haven’t seen each other for four years but the wedding ring is still there! They write to each other backwards and forwards over the course of the war. There is still a lot of room for that relationship to grow. At the end of the first episode, there is a very tender moment where he asks if she has missed him. Considering how they got together, it isn’t an unacceptable thing to ask! She’s very different to how she was in the first and second series; she had her husband hanging over her head, and then an adulterous relationship. Constance is a much stronger character as she has been forced to look after the garrison on her own. She’s an empowered woman who has had to fight.

Is the brotherhood tested?
The Musketeers are a band of brothers who will stick together, but loyalties to other people and other ideas do come into play. There are always those moments where they go head to head, but ultimately they will stick together.

What are the sets like this series?
There is a whole harbour set and an incredible market square - it’s great for the actors working on similar sets to work on something new. There is a new level of excitement and they have also built a Paris gate with a wall over the top. It’s a whole new world of how you can play with it. My costume is much hotter this year as its two levels of thick padding, but I like how warrior like I look! Howard said it reminds him of the SAS and I really like all the buckles.

What do you think is the appeal of the Musketeers?
I think it’s the relationships and the foundations, the camaraderies, the brotherhood, the action and the romance. It still continues even though the series has grown and the characters have evolved. All the elements continue to be there and when you put it all together, you’ve got the Musketeers.

The Musketeers return 9.30pm, Saturday, BBC One.

The Version