Kevin Doyle is fed up of playing serial killers. And servants (most famously as Mr Molesley in ITV’s Downton Abbey). BBC1’s new WW1 drama The Crimson Field affords him the opportunity to step into some alpha male shoes as Colonel Roland Brett, and he’s relishing it. “It’s nice to be giving orders rather than receiving them,” he told RadioTimes.com. “It took me a while to get used to being a figure of authority – to have someone with quiet authority who is rather placid.”
But besides acting creepy, it turns out there are other downsides to being typecast as a murderer. “I played a killer in the Lakes a few years ago and somebody screamed at me on the tube once. I thought, ‘Oh god, have I got to get used to his now?”
And when he’s not giving viewers a fright, he’s getting mistaken for a handyman. “I got somebody who asked me, did you do my central heating last year?” Lord Grantham would never have to put up with this…
Set in a field hospital on the Western Front, The Crimson Field sees Doyle’s character battle to save the gravely injured soldiers fighting in the trenches. Co-starring Hermione Norris, Suranne Jones and Oona Chaplin, the six-part drama from Great Expectations writer Sarah Phelps is part of the BBC’s World War I season and focuses on the female nurses thrust onto the frontline of a war like none they’d ever seen.
“To suddenly have young men with legs missing, their internal organs out, how do you cope with that?” questions Doyle. “Apart from patch it up and just hope for the best. They didn’t have the expertise, they didn’t have the experience, they didn’t have the medicine to cope with that.”
Next up for Doyle is the fifth series of Downton Abbey – “it gets more interesting, there’s much more to come” – and if its a hit with audiences, a second series as Colonel Roland Brett in 2015.
The Crimson Field begins on Sunday at 9:00pm on BBC1