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Sinbad s Magic
Elliot Knight (centre) as Sinbad

It's the kind of acting job a bloke can only dream about. Not even done with acting school and already you've landed a plum role - and a lead one at that.

Elliot Knight can't quite believe it, but there's nothing like having nine months of filming in picturesque Malta to convince yourself you really are living the dream. Knight is the lead character in Sinbad, a modern and magical 12-part reinvention of the famous legend from Arabian Nights which starts this weekend.

Sinbad is a young man convinced he knows it all until his life is shattered; he's cursed and forced to take to the sea for redemption. He realises his knowledge is but a few grains of sand compared to the size of the world's hourglass.

Knight has also cornered the market on cheesecloth pantaloons and black eyeliner, the two things you see him in most, given he spends much of the series shirtless.

"I love the character," Knight says affectionately. "I think he's great. But you'll either love him or hate him. There's an element of cockiness about him. Sinbad is very self-assured and thinks he has himself sussed, but that couldn't be further from the truth. He's a young man doing his own thing, but in reality he's a boy who doesn't know anything about the world."

The 22-year-old English actor, who has now graduated from the Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre after growing up in Birmingham, says scoring the role was exciting and he just jumped right in without thinking too much about the pressure.

"At first I thought,'Oh no, I haven't finished drama school'. But then I figured if they have chosen me then I had to go for it," Knight says from London.

"I'm not actually based anywhere at the moment. When you are filming something for so long it was nice to come back and get grounded, see friends and family and realise I'm not Sinbad, I'm just Elliot whose mum is telling him to do the washing up."

Although the show is named for the character of Sinbad, Knight says it's very much an ensemble piece with each character - including Anwar the doctor (Dimitri Leonidas), Viking warrior Gunnar (Elliot Cowan) and the insightful Cook (Junix Inocian) - trying to find their way in the world to slay their own demons. Lost's Naveen Andrews also stars.

"Destiny is a huge issue for these characters. There's a nice irony when Sinbad realises he has one and he's meant for something bigger. Until then, he's going to be just fine. Equally, it gets him into trouble a lot!"

With grand, colourful sets and plenty of magic, there's swashbuckling fun to be had with Sinbad. Knight says he did his own stunts, though he's not sure how much of him actually makes it into some of the scenes.

"In one of the episodes I remember diving into the water and I do have a little thing with heights. I did it after psyching myself up and when I came out of the water I thought there would be all this applause. Instead I came up and there was silence and I just walked back to my trailer. But I gave everything a go and did all the fighting and running parts myself."

The first season, created by the makers of Primeval, is about to finish in the UK, and while viewers dropped off a little during the Olympics, Knight is confident of a big finish, a possible re-screening and a potential second season.

"The scope of the show is unparalleled for UK-produced television and it's exciting to be part of it. So far it has exceeded expectations. Plus, this type of role doesn't come around very often."