Category Archives: Interviews

INTERVIEW Jill Halfpenny, The Drowning

Channel 5 has a new four-part thriller – The Drowning – starting today (Monday 1st February), which stars Jill Halfpenny and Rupert Penry-Jones.

Here, the 45-year-old actress tells us more about the show…

The Killing Times: What were your thoughts on your character, Jodie?

Jill Halfpenny: My initial thoughts on Jodie were that I loved how messy she was as a character. How she didn’t have everything together and how, within the first five minutes of the audience meeting her, she was clearly making mistakes. I like it when characters are immorally vague as it creates an interesting dynamic to play – your intentions can be good and pure but can still be perceived as being immoral and that’s what I was drawn to in Jodie. Her reasons are clear but her actions are wrong and that was appealing to me.”

TKT: Jodie goes on quite a journey in this series…

JH: Jodie does become somewhat erratic, but her intention becomes clearer. She is so sure of what she is doing and why she is doing it and that Daniel is her son. I can only imagine that if your child went missing and you thought you saw that child again, there is nothing you wouldn’t do in order to get close to them or to get actual proof. 

I imagine losing a child has to be the most awful loss one could suffer, that seems very obvious to me. I think losing a child under circumstances where you do not fully know what happened is another layer of torture. Some of her family think Tom is dead and Jodie thinks he is still alive. She feels it clearly inside her. Not only is she dealing with this unbearable grief and loss, she is also dealing with the people and their feelings around her. People who are supposed to love her, be there for her, comfort her and show her compassion and are now imploring her to accept what has happened and to move on.

She is trapped living in this madness where she probably only has one friend she can truly talk to and who truly listens to her. I don’t think Jodie’s family really listen to her- they just try to shut her down and therein lies the insanity of it all. She is completely gaslit by them. They tell her she is mad, that she drinks too much (of which she does) and that she has destructive patterns in her life. This does not mean to say what she is doing now is the wrong path to walk on. I really empathise with her- that she is living in her own madness as well as living amongst these influencing people around her too. That would be my idea of torture. I guess that is why Jodie drinks- to numb the pain of it all, to forget and to make life a little more bearable. Of course, it has its consequences. She is in an unenviable position; I wouldn’t want to be her in a million years.

The Drowning: Monday 1st – Thursday 4th February, 9pm, Channel 5

INTERVIEW: Ioan Gruffudd, Harrow

In a recent interview, Welsh actor, Ioan Gruffudd said that he had been dying to play the sort of characters who appeared in Liar and now Harrow.

In Harrow, Gruffudd plays Dr Daniel Harrow, a forensic pathologist with a total disregard for authority. He has an unfailing empathy for the dead which helps him solve even the most bizarre of cases. Willing to bend every rule, he is determined to give victims a voice and reveal the truth behind what happened to them. Meanwhile, a terrible secret from his past threatens him, his family, and his career.

There are lots of familiar references in the series (think House, Dexter etc) and it starts this week in the UK on UKTV’s Alibi channel. We managed to get hold of an interview with Ioan, but first, a trailer…

The Killing Times: What makes Harrow such an interesting character?
Ioan Gruffudd: Harrow is stunningly complex. Eccentric, smart, incredibly passionate, slightly quirky and a little bit belligerent. A big secret at the beginning of the show rears its ugly head in every episode. It always comes back to haunt Harrow. The secret isn’t revealed until the very end and we’ll grow to understand why he committed this crime.

TKT: So what attracted you most about the show?
IG: For me as an actor, I loved all the relationships that evolve throughout the series. His ex-wife, his daughter, Sergeant Soroya Dass and the relationship with Dr Fairley, who is the comic foil.

TKT: You mentioned his daughter. Could you talk a bit more about that relationship?
IG: Harrow has lost touch with his daughter Fern and it is destroying him, even though he won’t admit that to anybody. He is struggling to win back her confidence and love. Fern is smart, strong and determined, yet vulnerable and Harrow sees himself in her. He has met his match and knows he cannot fool her.

TKT: The show is a big old mixture of everything, isn’t it? 
IG: The show has elements of House and it’s unashamedly entertaining so there are also elements of Quincy. We are not shying away from how funny it is one moment, to the next being tragic and I think the audience will respond to that.

TKT: There’s a new case every week, with an underlying narrative arc. Any of these weekly cases stand out?
IG: In episode three we move from a human cadaver to a crocodile cadaver. Harrow is terrified of crocodiles. Soroya Dass, the woman that he is infatuated with, is gung-ho and it exposes Harrow for his vulnerabilities. Harrow turns into a child and the audience suspects he is not the masculine, clever, funny guy that he thinks he is.

TKT: There are also a few touching moments, too…
IG: There’s an episode where we find the body of a homeless girl in a tree. It’s a tragic story where the hospital proves her baby wasn’t hers. I was floored that this woman had lost everything and lost her life and just wanted her boy back. Ultimately, Harrow discovers that it was in fact her baby. The girl was a chimera, she had two sets of DNA. That was so moving and is my favourite episode so far.

Harrow: Tuesday 17th July, 9pm, Alibi

INTERVIEW: Nicola Walker, Unforgotten

Chris Lang’s cold-case drama, Unforgotten, is the best British crime series currently on television. There’s just simply nothing to touch it. The Missing, maybe? Shetland perhaps? I think Unforgotten is probably the best of the bunch. Over two series it has consistently told strong stories in a sensitive and intelligent way, with core members of the cast and its array of guest stars all performing at their top level. One of those core stars is the ever-brilliant Nicola Walker, and we managed to get hold of an interview with her. Here it is…

The Killing Times: How was it coming back for a third series?
Nicola Walker: I was very excited to come back. The writer, Chris Lang, sent us all six episodes way before we started filming which is really unusual, but I read them all in one sitting. The storyline this year is so different, Chris has managed to give it a completely different feel again and I really couldn’t wait to get back and see Sanjeev too. Cassie seems to be in a good place, but unfortunately, there is a new case and a new body. Her son is in New York, which she is finding a little bit difficult and her father is involved in a relationship that seems to be quite serious. Those things are sort of background noise in her life during the first few episodes, but they get louder and louder as it goes on.

TKT: She goes on to reveal that Cassie’s job has started to take its toll emotionally…
NW: There are some emotional ramifications from the last case that she is carrying with her, so it gets complicated for her as the series develops. This is one of the things that Chris Lang is looking closely at this year. We have spent enough time with Cassie to know that not only were there the two cases that we have seen in the show, but she has had a very long career in the force and it is starting to have an effect. When I was reading the script, I thought she was in a little bit of trouble, but as a viewer, I think you will spot it before she does. There is a voice in her head which is telling her she may have to rethink the way she is dealing with her professional and personal life, but she ignores it and keeps going like we all do.

TKT: The case investigated this series is the most recent to date, with the victim having gone missing on New Year’s Eve, 1999…
NW: There is the complication that everyone they speak to when trying to identify the body is hoping it is their child and that after all of these years they will be able to bury a body. For many, many people it is in living memory and that makes the case incredibly complex. In the past, that distance of time has probably allowed the team to step back a little bit this year, Cassie warns them that they will have to tread extremely gently because it is all very recent.

TKT: As with previous series, the third instalment plays host to more acclaimed Britsh actors. That’s always a good thing, right?
NW: It was fantastic having the new cast members join us. I actually did my first ever job with James Fleet in Four Weddings And A Funeral, which I am in for a blink! I met James there and have done plays with him since. I think he is absolutely remarkable in this show. I had also worked with Alex Jennings on Spooks but hadn’t worked with Neil Morrissey or Kevin McNally before, so that was exciting. That is always one of the best bits about this job, doing those first few scenes when we knock on the door with the new suspects behind it, knowing you are going to go on this interesting and long journey with them.

TKT: This series shines a light on how the press and social media play a role in our lives and in the investigation. How does the series explore this and why it’s such an important subject to show on television?
NW: I think that is what I love the most about this series. Chris is taking the temperature of what is going on around us at the moment and the way we are fed news. It comes from so many different angles now and for the first time, Cassie has to deal with a media advisor. The original case was 18 years ago and it was mishandled on many levels, including the investigation itself, so the police are being scrutinised and Cassie is the public face. Then when you feed that into an age where social media is very quick to get involved, it’s even more complicated and difficult. I haven’t seen this subject handled as well as Chris is handling it in this series because the way we receive news and where we get our information from is changing, and I love that he seems to be listening to the conversa*ons we are all having.

TKT: As ever, Cassie’s working relationship with DI Sunny Khan is at the centre of the drama. Why do you think this friendship is so special?
NW: Their relationship is so unique for a TV drama. I look for it in other shows because it is the sort of thing I want to see – a man and woman who really love and respect each other and are there when the other needs them, emotionally and personally. I think it’s really unusual and it is coming back to their relationship that I always really look forward to. They are the same but different because of the previous case. Cassie is finding it harder to let it go and is starting to push away from Sunny. She treats him in a way you can only treat people you truly love or who you are related to. He sees something is not quite right with her even before she realises it herself. The scene where Chris got them to almost have that moment was absolutely brilliant last year. I laughed out loud when I first read that on the page! It felt like Chris was saying, ‘OK, so normally this is what would happen at this stage in a TV drama, but we are not going to do that!’ I really love him for doing that and that it’s part of their backstory. Cassie thought it was a very drunken, insane lapse of sanity by Sunny and was probably more worried that he would feel embarrassed the following morning. That is the joy of them, they are intimate and so physically relaxed with each other, but it’s not sexual. It’s great to see it because I know it is possible – I have wonderful male friends in my life who I rely on, but you just don’t see it very often on screen.

TKT: Unforgotten has proven so popular with viewers and critics alike and that’s quite rare. Why do you think it has struck a chord?
NW: Chris Lang understands what is going on around us and feeds that into the scripts every year. I find it really refreshing that his scripts deal with the things you have been worrying about. One of the questions asked in this series is how we proceed in an environment where social media gets involved in criminal cases. There are many positives about that, but in our story, we also show how that can be problematic. He also looks at how a high profile case which was mishandled sticks in the consciousness of the whole country. We can all name those big cases, whether they were solved or not. They change the way you feel about the world you live in and that is something Chris has been looking at all the way through. He has publicly said the whole of the first series was prompted by what was happening with Jimmy Savile, and growing up there were too many cases I could name which jolted me and made me wonder how the world works. This is one of those cases. All of those images you see of the reporters back in the village after 18 years, meeting those parents who never found out what happened to their child. They’re really emotive moments and Chris is so smart to notice these.

Unforgotten: Sunday 15th July, 9pm, ITV

Exclusive interview: Thomas Coombes, Save Me

Photographer: Justin Downing

I’ve been enjoying Save Me – Lennie James’s Sky Atlantic urban noir – but I’m not entirely sure that ‘enjoying’ is the right word. It has been one of the most difficult series I’ve ever watched, and after such an intriguing and jovial start, too. The series finale is tomorrow night (Wednesday 4th April), and I managed to catch up with one of the stars – Thomas Coombes, who plays Nelly Rowe’s (James) faithful lieutenant, Goz. He says some interesting things, which you can read after the jump. Continue reading Exclusive interview: Thomas Coombes, Save Me

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Sian Reese-Williams, Craith

One episode in and S4C’s Craith looks set to be the next Welsh-language hit. Its star, Sian Reese-Williams, appeared in other S4C crime drama stalwarts Y Gwyll/Hinterland and 35 Diwrnod, but here she’s the driving force of the show, playing DI Cadi John. Craith has everything you expect from the burgeoning Welsh-language crime drama subgenre, and it feels like there’s more to come. We managed to catch up with Sian, the fruits of which appear over the jump. Continue reading EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Sian Reese-Williams, Craith

Interview: Christina Hendricks, Tin Star

Sky Atlantic’s Tin Star, which starts this week, Tim Roth stars as recovering alcoholic Jim Worth, a British cop adjusting to the quiet life in the Canadian Rockies after moving from London to the quaint,
picturesque town of Little Big Bear with his family – his wife Angela, teenage daughter Anna, and five-year-old son Petey. As the new chief of police, he finds there is little to occupy himself with at work, at least until North Stream Oil sets up a refinery near the town, bringing a wave of oil workers and controversy in its wake. It’s in this state of flux that Jim stumbles upon a possible connection to a murder case, and when his family’s safety is compromised he does what he can to protect them. But he is about to experience a wrath unlike any he has ever known. Also starring in the series is Christina Hendricks, ex of Mad Men, and we managed to get hold of an interview with her, which you can read after the jumperoo. Continue reading Interview: Christina Hendricks, Tin Star