Vicky McClure Talks ITV Thriller Without Sin

Vicky McClure Talks ITV Thriller Without Sin

Four part ITVX thriller Without Sin premieres soon, Vicki McClure not only stars but also co-produces. Here she talks to us about the drama.

How does Without Sin embody what you want to do with BYO Films, your new production company (Without Sin is a co-production between Left Bank Pictures and BYO Films)?
Our slate is very random and varied, from factual to drama to comedy to series to films… Johnny [Owen, partner] is a documentary filmmaker, radio presenter, writer, so the spectrum of what we want to do doesn’t really sit in one place. Some of the drama concepts and developments that we’re working on at the moment are very different to Without Sin, but they certainly sit within a world that we understand and can relate to.

What is special about filming on “your patch”?
Every city says it’s all about the people and that’s certainly the case in Nottingham. I see the amazing talent that’s here – even just the alumni from the Television Workshop – there’s obviously something in it. Yet we don’t tend to shout about it. I want people to see what our city looks and feels like. People will get to know the history behind the Left Lion in the Market Square, the heritage of the market in the Victoria Centre: my granddad was a butcher and had a stall there. It’s going now, but we managed to film a short scene there, which meant a lot to me, to make sure that those places and people aren’t forgotten, to remember where you came from. The fact that I still live here and can now bring my work home is a massive deal to me.

How did you come across Fran Poletti, the writer of Without Sin?
Sian McWilliams at Left Bank Pictures was working with her. We shared the desire to create impactful roles, usually within that bleak, dramatic thriller world. Fran was really willing and understood that we like to question things and pick them apart, so it needed to be collaborative. The story was always there, but the script was moving and shaping as we went along. Sometimes that meant you didn’t know what was coming, so you leant into that realism. There was a lot of play time.

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How would you describe Stella?
Lost, grieving, paranoid, scared, lonely and wanting to be lonely… All those emotions that come with feeling like you’ve got nothing to live for. If ever you outlive your child, it will change you forever – that’s what has happened to Stella. Without Sin picks up her story three years on – you can see a real change in her image and lifestyle.

What is Stella’s initial response when Charles gets in touch?
I’ve heard it said that curiosity is the strongest human emotion, and I don’t dispute that. If someone says, “I’ve got something to tell you but I can’t tell you right now,” that can stop your entire day. Stella has nothing to lose by meeting Charles. We don’t know what questions she’s got, but she would have relived that night so many times in her head, thinking about how she could have done things differently. If ever there was an opportunity for that to be quashed so she might move forward in some way, what has she got to lose? That’s her reasoning, alongside saying “Fuck you, I’ll do what I want,” to Paul, who doesn’t want her to meet Charles. It’s quite a human reaction.

What was family life like before Maisy’s murder?
We do establish that there were complications and not everything was as Stella would have liked it to be, but I think they were happy. She had a good kid and it wasn’t all that bad with Paul. It’s just that Paul has been able to move on and Stella hasn’t. She’s smoking cannabis and trying to block things out, but it is actually creating an active mind and a degree of paranoia, especially once she’s met with Charles. That’s not healthy.

Does Stella have friends or confidants?
Paul does come back into the fold, but Remy has been a confidant to her for a while, as well as her mum in spite of their complicated relationship. Remy always has good intentions for Stella. If things had been different, they could have worked well together.

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Did you do any research into Stella’s story?
Fran did bags of research, and Andrea [Lowe], who plays Bobbi, spoke to a restorative justice counsellor. I didn’t feel the need to speak to bereaved mums. I know people who have lost children and I’ll never know how that feels, but they’ve reacted to it in their own way. This was a particular circumstance, so I reacted to it in a way that I felt was reflective of Fran’s writing and the character that I was forming. I had the opportunity to laugh at times, be livid at times, be sad… Stella’s emotions are all over the shop, because that’s life.

Perry Fitzpatrick plays Stella’s husband, Paul. You’ve worked together several times – did that shorthand make the relationship easier to play?
It’s not about making life easier, although I’ve known him since I was 11 and have acted alongside each other in many different roles over the years, that short hand is always very helpful. I made a point of saying I’m not going to make the final decision on that role knowing Perry was in the mix. They need to have the job because they’re the right person for it: Perry auditioned and got the job on his own merits. It was the same for Johann Myers who plays Remy. I worked with him years ago and said we should get him in, and he really impressed everyone – he’s got that energy and a smile that lights up the entire screen.

What else is going on in Without Sin, beyond the thriller aspect?
It is a very twisty plot driven thriller, but also feels to me very raw and real – we’ve been pretty bold about showing all sides. The way that we’ve shot it, the characters we meet and who inhabit the world, it does have that working-class tone and I’m hoping people see the beauty within that, even down to the house parties.

Would you like to tell more of Stella’s story?
I’ll let the audience decide…

Without Sin will air on ITVX.

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.