When the fifth and final series of Ripper Street begins we catch up with Reid just days after the brutal murder of his long-time friend and colleague, Bennet Drake.
As if this was not enough to break him, Reid has found himself on the wrong side of the law – hunted down by Assistant Commissioner Augustus Dove for his role in the extra-judicial killing of Theodore Swift.
As the streets of Whitechapel echo with his name – terrible rumours circulating and reaching his daughter Mathilda, he fears – Reid knows that he must bring down the rotten heart that has installed itself in Leman Street, must prove the corruption of Augustus Dove, as well as the murderous guilt of his brother Nathaniel.
Bennet Drake’s death demands justice, and peace on the streets of Whitechapel must be restored. But how will Reid do this when he must simultaneously stay hidden from the police?
Here Matthew Macfadyen tells us what we can expect from the season,
Where do we find Reid, Jackson and Long Susan at the start of Series 5?
They’re all pretty shell-shocked really and they end up in the Alexandria, which is Mimi Morton’s theatre, which she acquired and is in the process of renovating. That’s where they hide out. And she allows them to sort of live there; they’re on the run basically.
Reid desperately wants to pursue Dove but he no longer has the arm of the law. How does this feel?
It’s such a rich setup to play, that Richard has created, this idea that Reid as a policeman is a pillar of the law is suddenly outside of it and he’s gone rogue with these two. And certainly with a woman who he regards as a criminal. It’s very complicated; it’s very nuanced and interesting. There are moments when he feels very, very bleak and frustrated that he’s unable to see his daughter and explain to her what’s happened and it’s difficult to see a way how he might be able to prosecute Dove, the real villain of the piece. But also I think there’s a sort of freedom in having gone rogue – there’s a part of them which thinks there’s nothing left to lose, we’re outside the normal conventional police world… it’s good fun to play.
Was it harder for Reid to adapt to life on-the-run than it was for Jackson and Long Susan?
I think in a way Jackson is more serious than Reid in that he really wants to take his wife and his kid Connor, and start again and be happy: get away from Whitechapel. And it’s Reid that is keeping him anchored because he needs him to get Dove; so there’s a sort of reluctance there with Jackson and that’s an interesting thing to have in the mix as well, as he’s torn.
Is Reid’s stubbornness an issue for the trio?
He does have that, which is kind of admirable but also infuriating, and he does it at the expense of other people’s feelings and situations sometimes. I think he feels a terrible guilt about it; I’m sure there’s a guilt about Drake and the way he behaved towards him and perhaps he was quite thoughtless in his treatment of him in sort of investigating the [Rutowski] murders and the Isaac Bloom case.
How does Reid feel about Mathilda’s relationship with Drummond?
That’s been a real joy to play, all that stuff with Reid and Mathilda and they’ve had such an insane journey together. He thought she was gone and then they found each other and moved away to the seaside. Then he grew frustrated and wanted to get back really and now she’s finding out things about her father that she didn’t know, so I think Reid finds that particularly painful that he can’t explain. She learns what he did to Horace Buckley who was her captor, but also her sort of captor father in a strange way. So she suddenly becomes aware of Reid’s capacity for great violence and Reid is powerless to explain. It’s a father not able to be with his daughter so she’s very conflicted. And also she’s falling in love with Samuel Drummond, so that complicates things and Drummond is very much on the side of Commissioner Dove because he’s ostensibly a good man and his superior officer.
How does Reid and Thatcher’s relationship develop in Series 5?
When Reid comes back from Hampton-on-Sea, Thatcher’s very much a cocky, brassy, bright young policeman but then it develops in a lovely way in Series Five because I think Thatcher – who you don’t expect to be sympathetic to the outlaws’ position – suddenly becomes a sort of wonderful ally to Reid, Jackson and Long Susan. It’s lovely working with Ben O’Mahoney; he’s a fantastic, fantastic actor.
In previous series there were several Murderers but now there is only one (Nathaniel). Does this singular focus affect Reid?
It’s a brilliant dramatic device, to have two sides of the same coin with the Dove brothers; it’s such a brilliant conceit. And that they’re not unsympathetic: certainly Nathaniel, he’s a psychopath really, but it’s rooted in this terrible trauma from when they were little boys. As the story develops you see that he’s a traumatised and profoundly wounded boy who’s being manipulated to a degree. It’s not to say that he’s not guilty but it’s interesting and quite moving I think.
What does Jedidiah Shine’s return mean to Reid?
The return of Jedidiah Shine is interesting because he already knows that Dove is up to his guts really in corruption and murder. Dove brings him in as an attack dog in a way. I think Reid finds it really chilling and frightening because Shine’s a frightening man.
How does the conclusion of Ripper Street feel for you as an actor who has been with the show since the start?
It’s been lovely to tell the whole story, and have the chance to do that because Ripper Street’s had a sort of quite a rocky ride. We did the second series and then it was cancelled and then it was revived and then we thought perhaps we would leave it at the end of series three and then we were asked to do more and actually it’s sort of revealed itself into one wonderful big story, which was probably the aim at the beginning. It feels very much like we’ve come back to the beginning, certainly in episode six, which is the last. It’s just a beautifully written episode; so it’s felt extremely satisfying creatively to be able to do that.
Has Reid changed much over the course of five series. Would he recognise himself from Series 1?
That’s part of the beauty of the last episode in that there is this circularity: I think perhaps the question is how much do we really change; how much do we learn… what makes us happy?
Will you miss playing Reid?
I will miss playing it but it feels as though I’ve played him now. Our lovely producer Will told me that we’ll have done thirty-seven hours and that’s enough I think. That’s certainly the longest amount of time that I’ve played one character. But it hasn’t felt like a chore: it’s been lovely; it’s been a really special job; good people, talented people and lovely to work in Dublin.
How does Reid feel about Mimi Morton’s re-introduction?
I think Reid is fairly distrustful of her at the beginning but I think they’re all certainly very grateful to her for looking after them. She has a real connection with Jackson and is probably still in love with him and you know their relationship ended badly in years previously.
Can Reid trust Long Susan – a woman who once shot him?
I think Reid knows he’s not a saint and he knows that she certainly isn’t but I think he knows full well that she’s not a bad person; she’s just sort of ruthless. There’s a real connection between Reid and Long Susan and there’s a real understanding; they’re friends despite everything.
Are Reid and Jackson more honest with each other now that there is a level playing field?
I think they’ve always been pretty robust in their relationship; pretty honest. That’s the wonderfully attractive thing about Jackson, that even when he does hide secrets it’s usually because of the ones he loves, so Reid’s intelligent enough to understand that. There’s a great fondness and understanding between the two of them I would say.
Over the five series, was there any particular low moments for Reid?
Oh god there’s been too many to mention I think… if I think of highs, I think finding his daughter was a wonderful thing and finding sort of peace after he had been shot, but yeah, apart from that it’s pretty bleak for Mr Reid, yeah.
The Miniaturist Interviews: Romola Garai
Romola Garai plays Marin Brandt in The Miniaturist, premiering soon on BBC-1, here she talks about what drew her to the drama and being in a costume drama where she pretty much only gets to wear one costume.
What attracted you to the role of Marin?
I’d read the book shortly after it came out and I thought it was a really surprising novel, really interesting and with very strong feminist themes in it, so I was very excited about it. Time passed and then an email popped into my inbox with the subject, The Miniaturist. I thought it was fantastic they were making it and I was really excited to read the script.
It’s a very genre-bending novel; it appears to be like a costume drama we have seen before, but very quickly we realise that it’s not that. It’s about a woman coming into her own in a society that’s very patriarchal, it’s about a love affair, it’s about discrimination, and it’s about people trying to survive in an incredibly controlled state. It’s a thriller and it’s also a story about political and emotional awakening.
Marin is a particularly interesting character, I think she has one of the best arcs. When I first read the book, she was the character that stayed with me, and when I read the scripts I immediately remembered everything about her. She’s told in beautiful detail in the novel, which John has retained in the script. Marin is just a great character to play, it was a real treat.
Tell us about Marin.
When you first meet her, because the story is told through Nella’s perspective, you meet a woman who seems very cold and intimidating. Then gradually you get this drip-feed of information about her; you see she’s been helping Johannes run the business and you learn that they were orphaned at a young age. She’s very intellectual, she’s very well read, and she’s not married, which is very unusual at the time.
One of the reasons I found her such a fascinating character is that she’s full of secrets and she’s layered; very conflicted and has great faith, but also passions. The house they live in is essentially a tinder box of secrets that Marin has been sitting on to try and stop the secrets exploding out. However although it seems she is trying to keep a lid on it I think she believes that they could subtly break all the rules and be free within the house at least, if only her brother stopped acting so recklessly.
Hopefully audiences will question what is driving her hostility towards Nella. Marin needs Nella a lot to maintain the appearance of being a normal household but it’s also very important that Nella is afraid of her so that she doesn’t try digging and discovering the secrets that they are all trying to keep – because if anyone finds out then their futures are ruined.
What was it like doing the scenes between Marin and Nella?
I loved working with Anya, she’s an incredibly accomplished actress. She’s got a difficult job in this, because Nella has to be very innocent at the beginning of the story, which is always difficult for an actor to play, and also more innocent that a woman of that age would be now. She’s constantly making discoveries, she doesn’t have the information that the rest of us do so she’s always learning new things, and she’s done that with real beauty and subtlety. I really enjoyed doing all our scenes together.
Tell us about Marin’s costume.
Marin only had one costume until a very late stage of the story. Her costume is typical of the puritan values of the period which rejected anything that smacked of luxury or louche values. They also didn’t wear make-up in this period at all, certainly not women of this class and station, and the hair was very simple and scraped back. Her head would have been covered at all times, so I had a black cap that I wore, but to be honest when I wore it I couldn’t really hear what anyone was saying and also talked incredibly loudly because I couldn’t hear myself, so essentially I was shouting at the other actors!
What makes The Miniaturist stand out from other period dramas?
I’ve done lots of historical pieces but there’s something very unusual about this. When you do contemporary novels set in the past the writers are able to do a lot more, and tackle complex themes which writers writing at the time weren’t able to do. More than that, it’s interesting in that it explores a number of different genres. It has elements of a thriller and then it becomes a family drama and then it becomes a polemic about what happens in societies that are so controlling.
I hope people will sit down to watch the show because it’s a pretty costume drama and will be surprised that it is actually rebellious and constantly bringing up important issues – and that they’ll be so engaged they won’t be able to look away.
Trust Me Interviews: Sharon Small
Interview with Sharon Small, who plays Dr. Brigitte McAdams in new three part psychological thriller Trust Me which airs this August on BBC One.
What attracted you to this project?
I liked the character and the premise of the piece – I don’t think we’ve seen this before. And everyone is like an armchair detective, everyone is an armchair actor or doctor, so I thought that people would get off on that and think, gosh what would I do in that circumstance? The audience are the people who are privy to the truth and not us. With my character, Brigitte, I like her neediness, her sassiness – she’s fun and quick-fire talking – and quite honestly I rather fancied myself as a doctor [laughs].
How would you describe your character?
Brigitte is a good person; she’s sassy and is a really good doctor. She has got some issues, but she is trying her best to run this ward and with great intentions, which I think a lot of NHS doctors are.
How did you prepare for the role?
I grew my hair so that I could tie it up – normally I have short hair. We had a fantastic medical training day with Dan and got to do airways and cannulas and stitching and things like that, I loved that. The most important thing for me was to go around the actual A&E department (or ED department as I now know it’s called) in Edinburgh. We met this fantastic doctor – just watching him and really getting to observe what goes on in a ward, the dynamic, what people do and noticing that people are always looking at folders, everyone’s always collaborating and talking to each other. Everyone is always moving around, a lot more than you think and not that quickly. It’s less dramatic than you think.
Is your character challenging to play?
She was. Similarly in something that Jodie mentioned, I had quite a lot of medical jargon to say quite quickly, but I had less of the procedural stuff to do in terms of operational things. As the character is more and more revealed I had to make sure that I took care of how that happened, and that it was subtly done.
What makes a hospital a good arena for a drama?
It’s an ever-changing landscape, a hospital. Every new sort of event that you’re presented with means that you’re having to make life-saving decisions. People’s lives really are at stake, and honestly, my little taste of pretending that I was an ED doctor made me feel quite powerful. If I could fix people so that they survived, that would be an amazing ability.
What are the biggest challenges that you have faced so far during filming?
Saying the medical words Metronidazole – Met-ron-ida-zole, Metron-i-dazole – and trying to make scrubs look even remotely interesting, I don’t rock scrubs like Jodie does, I’m way too curvy for that!
What do you hope audiences will take away from this drama?
I hope that they’ll find themselves in that dilemma of wanting Cath/Ally to succeed, because she’s a good person and she ironically is brilliant at the job. I’m hoping that they’ll see the dilemma that she has, and as you want her to keep succeeding, it means she’s going to keep compromising people as she goes, as well as herself.
Trust Me Interviews: Jodie Whittaker
Jodie Whittaker plays Cath in three part psychological thriller Trust Me which airs on BBC One this August.
What appealed to you about this project?
I was sent the script for the first episode and it fascinated me because it went in a completely different direction to how I thought it was going to. Particularly at the beginning when she’s suspended for whistleblowing and loses her job. It could have gone so many ways, and the fact that she takes on this new identity isn’t the way that I thought it would go. I love the fact that her choices are quite morally dubious – they certainly aren’t black and white. She makes decisions that are quite challenging to justify, even though we know her reasons. I’ve never acted in anything medical before, so it felt completely new.
How does Cath’s lie come about?
Cath starts off by having a conversation with her best friend, Ally, who is a middle grade doctor in A&E and is giving it all up to emigrate to New Zealand. Ally is packing up the life that Cath would have loved to have had, leaving it all behind to go and do something completely different. Suddenly there is an opportunity for her to take on the identity of her friend and in that panic, not necessarily the clearest thinking moment in her life, she does it. Once you set off on a path of lies it’s very difficult to undo it without bringing everything crashing down.
Did you receive any training on medical procedures?
Yes! The writer, Dan, who is also medical consultant and a doctor outside of TV production, showed us a load of stuff that he used when he was training people. He brought in the CPR dummy and showed us how to do a cannula and he, very bravely, let me put a cannula in his vein. I did it right, thank God! Also, YouTube is amazing. The genius of the internet is that you can basically sit at home and Google medical procedures, and TV shows such as 24 hours in A&E, which I watched hours of.
How else did you prepare for the role?
With regards to the technical stuff, we had an on-set consultant so that there was always someone to help when we had to do the procedures. The best thing for me was that my character was also out of her depth and didn’t always know what she was doing, so it kind of covered my own personal fumbles. I’m not someone who likes to over prepare for dialogue scenes, because I think that makes me not listen to what the other person is saying as I’ve already decided how I’m going to do it. It immediately makes it interesting and new and you can’t plan for that, which is great. You can’t ‘wing’ the medical stuff so I had to do my research for that. One of my friends is a Sister in A&E and I sent her a lot of messages asking ‘how do you pronounce this?’ and ‘what does that mean?’, so basically she was my personal medical coach even though she works full time!
Is it challenging playing someone who leads a double life?
Yes, but no more challenging that playing someone who has had something happen to them that I haven’t personally experienced. What’s hard is trying to gauge how good a liar she is, or how in a panic she is. You’ve got to be careful, because you can’t make the other actors seem stupid. These are intelligent, fully formed characters that you’re working with, so it was a fine line of being able to deceive and it not being something that comes easily to her. However, it can’t be that it makes everyone around her feel a bit like an idiot for not working it out. That was tricky, but the director is there to help guide you through it.
Did the uniform help to get you into character?
Yes. It feels odd when you put it on. I did five weeks of studio filming, back to back – all the medical stuff was contained so everything started to become a bit like second nature. The first few times I had to put on an apron, the ‘take’ ended up being about 15 minutes long. Then I worked out that you shouldn’t put the gloves on before the apron! There was lots of daft stuff like that, but you then get into a rhythm. It’s good because it makes you immediately feel like you look the part and then all I had to do was make sure that I knew the lines!
What were some of the challenges that you faced during filming?
I’m not very good with learning dialogue when there are lots of medical terms! I enjoy the adrenaline of being on set because I’m quite good at choreography, I respond well to being taught something physically. That’s why I was terrible at school, because they talk you through things rather than physically show you. I enjoyed doing the different types of surgery as it was fascinating, it’s nerve-wracking but you realise that you can do it. Also, the team who created the props put in so much hard work to make sure we didn’t mess up our bits. I struggled with having massive speeches that involved these medical words. I don’t have a brain for that!
Did you enjoy working in Scotland?
I absolutely loved Glasgow! The crew were phenomenal and the city is wonderful. I could move my family up there and we had a great time as there were loads of brilliant restaurants and everyone was lovely. It was brilliant and I would snap up another job there very quickly, although it does get very dark and cold over winter!
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