Suspects is Channel 5’s first original drama in eight years – but that’s not the only reason it’s worthy of your attention. The entirety of the dialogue is improvised which means protagonists Fay Ripley, Clare-Hope Ashitey and Damien Molony have to come up with lines on the spot, based on a carefully-plotted episode structure cooked up by a team headed up by Paul Marquess.
He’s the man behind Footballer’s Wives and TOWIE, as well as overseeing The Bill for its final four years. But don’t be fooled, there’s little sensationalism here – instead what we get is a refreshing, well thought-out procedural drama that won over fans and critics when it first aired earlier this year.
We chatted to Damien Molony – who plays DS Jack Weston – about the show’s stronger, bolder second series. Here’s what he had to say…
So, welcome back. Series two. What can you tell us?
It’s the same style. It’s exactly the same camera team, same main characters, and the storylines are just as gritty – we’re not shying away from any nasty things or sensitive stuff. It’s truthful, gritty crime stories. The only real difference about this series is the fact that we all came back a little bit more confident and a little bit more assured because of the way the first series was received by audiences.
Suspects gives you the freedom to improvise – have you done any scripted work since finishing the first series?
I’ve done a film and I did a play straight after suspects where I played 27 characters in the space of an hour and a half which was the best thing for me – to go completely the other side of the spectrum. That’s why I love being an actor because you can go from playing an angry detective in an east London office to playing a depressed writer in New York trying to write a play. It took me a while to recalibrate my brain.
Do you think you’ve got a second career as a TV writer?
Absolutely not. I would never begin to understand how talented those guys are. Definitely outside of my skill set.
What about working as a copper?
I don’t think so – I think that job’s too difficult. The day-to-day stuff that these guys and girls see, some of it is upsetting, some of it is rewarding but then it’s long days and I’m an actor – I’m able to get these stories out of my head at the end of every day.
Why do you think the telly-viewing public has such a love affair with procedural drama?
I think it’s the intrigue. The element of whodunnit. Trying to be one step ahead of the show is why I watch procedural crime dramas. It’s curiosity, suspicion, and trying to solve a problem. It’s why people do crosswords.
You starred as Albert Flight in series three of Ripper Street – were you pleased for the show when Amazon brought it back?
It’s such a brilliant thing because the show is absolutely brilliant. I was so disappointed when it was cancelled – after that final episode of series two, it was screaming out for a third, fourth, fifth series. For Richard [Warlow, the writer] and his team, what they’ve done is incredible TV and I haven’t seen anything like it. I get goosebumps even now thinking about that last scene in the boxing ring and I just know series three is going to be a smash hit.
And finally, we couldn’t finish without a Being Human question. Did you prefer the ambiguous ending that aired on BBC3 or the more definitive version on the DVD extras?
We shot the special DVD scene just for fun really. I loved Toby’s original ending – the ambiguous one – because it gives the story over to the fans and the fans can go off into time continuum and decide and theorise about potentially what happened and what didn’t happen and what the origami wolf meant. I just thought it was a stroke of genius from Toby [Whithouse, creator] to give a show that was really heralded and saved by fans over to the fans as a gift like that – I thought that was a masterclass.