Rupert Penry-Jones on Silk, Whitechapel and a pirate caper

As the actor returns as Clive Reader in BBC1 courtroom drama Silk, he admits he’d have liked another two parts to explain the end of ITV's Whitechapel

Rupert Penry-Jones is back on our screens tonight as barrister Clive Reader in the third series of courtroom drama Silk.


The actor, who launches the series with a telling romantic clinch, says his character has “got a lot more confidence” this time around.

“He tries to have a few more morals. I specifically asked for that from the creators of the show. If he’s not getting emotionally involved with his clients there’s not much drama there. It’s resulted in Clive being a bit less cut-throat. But he’s still got that nice edge to him.”

While the first episode hints at a ‘will-they-wont-they’ storyline with QC Martha Costello (Maxine Peake), Penry-Jones says the series doesn’t dwell on it too much.

“The battle that seems to be very much in this series is in chambers – what kind of set we’re going to be. Whether we’ll be in prosecution or defence.”

It could even be a battle that signals the end of Shoe Lane Chambers, as Penry-Jones says of a possible fourth series: 

“We as a cast aren’t sure whether its been written in a way that this is it, or whether it’s got more [life in it after this season].

“It feels like everyone gets blasted in different directions at the end of this series. We all sort of end up going off in different ways and no one knows where the other person is, literally,” says Penry-Jones enigmatically.

Would he stay on if Silk did continue? “I’m not going to make any decisions until there’s a decision to be made.”

It’s an understandable attitude given the recent axing of ITV’s Jack the Ripper-themed drama Whitechapel, which Penry-Jones feels was premature.

“We’d come up with such a great idea in the last series, it was a shame not to be able to finish it off,” he says of its four-series run.

“I understand maybe that they didn’t want to do another six-parter. But they could have given us maybe two parts to explain what was going on.

“Unfortunately they put the last series out at the end of the summer holidays. If I was a punter I wouldn’t want to watch Whitechapel in the summer holidays. We didn’t get off to a great start and with ITV overnight viewing figures are what it’s about. It’s not one of those shows that many people want to watch on their own.

“I would have liked to have finished off what we were doing, that was my main gripe with it.”

So what’s next for the star?

“I’m in an American series called Black Sails, which is a pirate caper. I’ve come in in the second series, so I’m sort of wading through that at the moment.”

See Silk tonight at 9:00pm, on BBC1