Detective Inspector Annika Strandhed (played by Nicola Walker) is back in the highly anticipated second season of Alibi series Annika. This time, she and her team from the Marine Homicide Unit dive headfirst into solving a fresh wave of brutal and unexplained murders that wash up in Scotland’s waters. As they encounter murders of increasing complexity, the dynamics of the team are put to the test, forcing them to adapt swiftly.
In this interview, Nicola Walker gives us a glimpse of what we can expect from the second season.
Where do we find Annika at the beginning of series two?
It’s direct continuity from the end of series one. She steps out of the pub, looks at everyone and admits that she has got a real problem on her hands. It’s Annika at her most honest. It took her the whole of the first series to get to this point where she realises that all her secrets are coming home to roost. Now she’s going to have to deal with it all. It’s a really clever way of jumping back into the story.
How does the first episode carry on?
We finish episode one with Annika looking at the camera and discussing the big reveal. Then she steps out and speaks to the other characters in a rather convoluted way about Norwegian myths, but in her head it makes perfect sense!
What do you think is the main theme of this series?
For me, the whole series is about mothers and fathers and children. Later on, we get to meet Annika’s father, Magnus (played by Sven Henriksen) – and what a force of nature he is! Annika’s personality makes quite a lot of sense when you meet Magnus. It is not a good father-daughter relationship. They make the monumental mistake of going away together. Morgan (played by Silvie Furneaux) thinks it’d be good for them to all spend some time together. So, they end up actually going to stay at a camping retreat where Morgan is doing work experience. Morgan sees it as an opportunity to bring her mother and grandfather together for a weekend of joy. But of course, it doesn’t quite turn out that way!
Why does the structure of the show work so well?
What’s lovely is that Annika is about the macro and the micro. On a macro level, something appalling and epic and drama-worthy happens in that episode. But on a micro level, you’re looking at a father and a daughter’s very difficult relationship play out. That’s what’s beautiful about the series. It does operatic, and it does realistic. It blends those two so well. It’s what the writer Nick Walker is interested in – how they always go along together in our lives. The dramatic and the mundane live cheek by jowl.
How hard is it for Annika to continue concealing her secrets?
All families contain those secrets. We try not to unpack them, and we go day to day biting down and burying them. But in this series, a lot of Annika’s family secrets are going to come out. It’s a very fulfilling drama series because it’s not interested in cliff-hangers. It likes to reveal. The whole premise is that Annika likes to reveal – maybe too much! She overshares sometimes. She uses you, the viewer, to work out, moment by moment, both the case and her life. So, there are secrets, but they’re not secret for long. It turns out she’s absolutely dreadful at keeping secrets – which is why I think I love her!
How is Annika’s relationship with Morgan developing in this series?
Annika is now dealing with a grown-up teenager. What became very apparent when Silvie and I were playing it was how needy Annika is with her daughter. There is that point in parenting where you know you have to let your children go because they are becoming more adult. But Annika’s neediness is not even hidden. She’s very emotionally close to her daughter – she always has been. And she really relies on Morgan. They’re very easy with each other. You can see how intimate they are. And I love Annika for not being a grown-up parent.
Can you amplify that?
Annika just loves and needs her daughter. As a parent of a teenager, she is caught in that awful trap. You know you need to let them go out into the world more, but your instinct is to lock them in the house and throw away the key. Annika knows she can’t protect Morgan, but she’s not ready to stop trying. I think Annika is starting to realise that if she doesn’t handle this in a good way, she could be the one that really hurts Morgan.
Can you tell us what makes Annika such a special character to play?
I think Annika is just a very unusual creation because there is no subtext. When you’re doing a normal piece of television drama, you’re hiding a lot from the audience. People don’t give themselves away on a daily basis. That’s right because in drama you don’t always need to know what’s happening. But Annika obviously speaks to you as if you’re a combination of her conscience, her parent, her best friend and her judge.
Have her addresses to camera changed in this series then?
Yes. There’s a whole different tone this time. Speaking down the lens now, she is saying, “I feel your judgement.” Annika was very cavalier in the first season. She felt very safe with you. You were in her corner. You were coming with her on every case. You understood how she felt about everything, including her domestic life. Now, the second time out, she side-eyes you. She throws quite a few looks at you because she knows she can feel you’re judging her and asking her, “Why did you do that? Why did you say that then?”
Can you expand on that?
There is a lot of unspoken communication down the lens to you now, as well as confessing and admitting that she has played things badly. It feels as if she is in a constant state of confession, and I love how honest she is as a result. She’s honest about stuff she is good at, too. She’s not shy about looking to you to confirm her victories as well as her mistakes.
Why are you so passionate about her?
Because she’s got a really good heart. She’s full of faults and along the way she gets a lot of things wrong. But she’s driven by a very strong moral compass to do good. Even though it’s clearly a very artificial construct because she’s breaking that fourth wall all the time, she seems very human to me.
What makes Annika different from other TV crime dramas?
We’re all very used to the device of breaking the fourth wall now. It’s been done superbly in lots of places. But I think what Nick Walker (writer) has done so brilliantly is create something that ostensibly presents as a crime drama, but is actually reeling you in for something else. Nick is being very playful with the whole show. It’s a crime drama, but not really as we know it.
In what other ways does it deviate from more conventional cop shows?
I think it’s self-aware. It’s aware of our obsession with crime dramas. That has always been interesting to me. It plays with those tropes. We don’t do a lot of the things you would expect we would do in a procedural. It’s pushing against a lot of those expectations.
Why do we love crime dramas so much in the UK?
There’s a lot of discussion about why in this country we are obsessed with crime dramas. I am! I love crime dramas. They are how we make sense of things and how we make ourselves feel safe. The world becomes more manageable through a crime drama. Psychologically, part of that is down to us wanting to see the world as safer. We watch crime drama because it adds up. Someone does something awful. Then the good guys catch the bad guys, and the world is returned to normal. Restoring the natural order is a reassuring concept.
What were the scariest sequences you had to film this year?
Some of the scenes on the rib were tough. The weather was a little bit naughty. I am definitely a fair- weather sailor! I like nice conditions in Scotland, flat sea, a little bit of sunshine. But as soon as that rib starts going up and down, there’s definitely a sense of humour failure from me. When it is being chucked around like a cork on an ocean, I don’t enjoy that – mainly because I’m always terrified I’m going to do something wrong and damage this very expensive, beautiful boat. That’s the main terror. I keep thinking, “What will the insurance claim be if I get this wrong?”
What do you hope people will take away from this series of Annika?
Sometimes you do think, “What are we all doing here?” I’m on a loch at a ridiculous hour in the morning as a small plane is being tied to a tree to stop it blowing away or I’m sitting in that plane with five people on the shore bracing it or I’m being asked to drive a really small rib really fast across the loch. But this is all done in the hope that people will sit down and watch it and enjoy it. You do ask yourself sometimes, “What’s your intention here?” And the answer is always: to create joy.
Annika Season 2 Premieres Wednesday 9 August 2023 at 9.00pm on Alibi.
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