This coming Tuesday night, BBC One broadcasts the first episode of In The Dark, Danny Brocklehurst’s four-part adaptation of Mark Billingham’s two Helen Weeks stand-alone books (Time Of Death and In The Dark). It’s good stuff, with Ripper Street’s MyAnna Buring taking the lead role (her first lead role maybe in a TV series? I’ll have to check) as the driven detective. We managed to get hold of an interview with the Swedish-born actress, which you can read after the jumperoo.
The Killing Times: Tell us about your character, Detective Helen Weeks
MyAnna Buring: Helen is a detective and is very driven by her work. She is doggedly dedicated to unearthing the truth for a living, yet like all good heroines she has her own dark secret buried deep in her past. The series is very much a tale in two parts – in the first two episodes Helen’s secret resurfaces to haunt her, and she must confront and face the demons from her past. Then in the last two episodes we join her as she wrangles with her present and her future. There’s a toughness to her, and a maverick quality. I think Danny has brought that sense of maverick-ness out in a lot of the characters – they don’t always follow the rules but they have a strong moral code. Characters are always so much more fun that way. Helen is witty, determined, and, compassionate. A woman who left the small town she grew up in as soon as she could to carve out a new life for herself in the city. Danny’s scripts allow us to follow her and her loved ones as they navigate incredibly difficult, emotional territory. She definitely goes on a journey.
TKT: What do you hope the audience takes from In The Dark?
MB: What I hope we have been able to achieve is a plethora of characters that audiences can really invest in – that they can go on a journey with, care for, be moved by. In this series, we are dealing with so many different issues and crises; it’s a roller-coaster ride of a thriller. I feel very much that all the characters are real human beings – they are flawed, they’re not perfect and that is what makes them interesting – not only to play but also to watch. Mark Billingham has created this sprawling universe that is so suspenseful and he’s managed to create this across so many books. With In The Dark, Danny Brocklehurst has taken just a few of these stories and beautifully distilled them into four cracking high octane episodes. Helen has very much been highlighted from the books and she’s a character that for me was really interesting and fun to invest in, and I hope, will be interesting to invest in for the audience too.
TKT: How did you prepare for the role?
MB: As always, I get most of my information from the script. It was Danny’s script that informed the structure that I hung Helen’s coat on (so to speak). Then I went to Mark’s books to add in more layers. There were certain elements that had changed in Danny’s interpretation of Mark’s books and in this instance it felt good for me to know that difference and find a truth between the two. I also researched what pregnancy was like for different women. And then cherry-picked for myself what possible aspects fitted best with Helen’s experience and what we needed her to be able to do: how pregnancy affected her physically and emotionally, how she would feel about being pregnant. I did some research into abuse and grief, particularly looking into what that might mean for somebody working in the police force. I found interesting a sort of gallows’ humour that exists within the police force. It seems characteristic of working in a job that isn’t always pleasant or easy. In order to deal with the horror, humour and sarcasm can be useful tools. I think this comes through in the script too – Helen has a wry sense of humour.
TKT: What was it like working with French director Gilles Bannier and Norwegian director Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen?
MB: With In The Dark, you have two stories that are absolutely connected yet they are very different. So to have two directors on board was actually really helpful. We got to really explore that difference. The police thriller genre is one that both the French and Scandinavians have done incredibly well and are well known for across the world. So it’s great to have a real celebration of that. We were interested to see if new things would come to the surface by having different directors look at this part of Britain with foreign eyes – if different elements would pop up in the storytelling. You’ll have to watch and decide for yourself if you think it does.
In The Dark: Tuesday 11th July, 9pm, BBC One