Professor T | Interview with Emma Naomi (Detective Sergeant Lisa Donckers)

What can we expect from the second series?

I think we’ve got a grittier show because the overall themes and the cases we’re exploring are a lot darker this time, but we haven’t lost sight of the comedy. Fortunately Ben (Miller, playing Professor T) and Sarah Woodward (playing Ingrid Snares) hold the comedic responsibility and are absolutely brilliant at that, so I’m learning from the sidelines about how to be funny and what works, without the pressure of having to be funny myself.

What areas does the series explore this year?

Organised crime. That has a longer arc throughout the series than any other case, so it’s the first time we have a case that spans several episodes. The cases are so complex this year, they do lead you on a wild goose chase but it all makes sense in the end, because the clues are all in there.

Is Lisa experienced in that world?

No, I think this is her first time dipping her toe into it. She’s got a lot of experience with murder of course, but organised crime is not their department. Even so, we’re forced to investigate something that’s not really our field and we do tread on the toes of other departments a little.

How has Lisa changed from series one?

She’s trying to learn from her mistakes. Last year, she wore her heart on her sleeve a bit too much and lost the trust of her boss, Christina (Juliet Aubrey). She’s trying to make up for those mistakes and perhaps be more careful in her decision making. She’s certainly looking a lot smarter, making an effort with her wardrobe and trying to be as organised as she can.

How is her dad getting on?

Well, she’s also got a lot more responsibility at home because her dad’s health is deteriorating, so she’s having to navigate her responsibilities at work and at home. She can’t afford to be as messy as she was last year, because there is added pressure on her and a lot of fear. He’s all that she’s got and she is all that he has. She’s terrified of losing him. She hasn’t shared her difficulties with anyone, so all that is bubbling up inside and making things difficult for her.

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There’s always been a bit of will they / won’t they about Lisa and Dan (Barney White). How does their professional and personal relationship evolve this year?

They’re still a good team and there’s clearly chemistry there. The challenge is finding a way to work together when there’s so much pressure with work and Lisa’s situation at home. They get to know each other better and let each other in a little more. But the question, remains: will they make it?

Is Dan a complication she doesn’t need right now?

That’s what she thinks, but she could really do with some emotional support. She hasn’t ever really let anyone in. The only person who really knows her is her dad, so to take the risk of Dan seeing everything she’s dealing with, would be really scary for her. She’d have to compromise somewhere if she pursued something with Dan.

How has working with Professor T changed Lisa’s perspective on her job?

Lisa looks at evidence in a different way. While her gut reactions may tell the immediate story, the professor is really good at challenging her to look again and see what story is really being told, rather than jump to conclusions. It’s not evidence alone that solves the crime, we need to understand why something has happened and the only way to do that is to really understand the suspects and how their minds work.

How does she feel about the Professor being brought back into the fold?

She’s ecstatic to have her mentor back on the scene. First of all, she knows that justice is going to be served, but she also has an opportunity to learn every single time that he’s involved. She can see his brilliance, and she is trying to find a way to emulate that level of independent thinking herself.

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Was there a standout moment from the second series?

The opening scene of episode one is really special, where there’s a fire. The cinematography is stunning, it was really full-on to film and it’s going to start the series with a massive bang. It was actually snowing and absolutely freezing on the day, but on screen it looks amazing.

What do you hope for Lisa’s future?

I’m not sure what the future holds for Lisa, but I think her hope would be that she develops the level of perception that the professor has, without having to consult him. Either that, or maybe one day they can be intellectual equals. We shall see…

What’s next for you?

I am returning to season three of Bridgerton, playing Alice Mondrich. I feel very lucky to be able to do both of these shows, especially because of lockdown and COVID.

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.