Scott & Bailey: Suranne Jones on series four, growing up and Rachel’s new love interest

"Rachel has a new lover that you don't initially find out about. So she has got a spring in her step," reveals the star of ITV's hit police drama

Crime-fighters Rachel Bailey and Janet Scott are to find their working relationship tested once again as they both seek the same promotion to Detective Sergeant. The new series of the popular ITV cop drama will see the women go head to head, but what does this mean for their future within the team? And is the volatile Rachel now mature enough to deal with the possibility of getting a senior post? Actress Suranne Jones talks to us about all this – and the new mystery man in her character’s life…

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Do you think Rachel is more grown up this time around?
Yes, definitely. In the first series, she had man trouble. In the second series, she had drink trouble. And in the third series, she had the bad marriage and the mother and brother trouble. So I felt that if we were going to do a fourth series, then we couldn’t have a character who was continually at odds with herself and her past.

Was there a danger that she was becoming too dislikable?
Hopefully you can see why she’s turned out the way she has. After all, her dad was an alcoholic, her mum didn’t want her as a child and her brother is now in prison. But she is good at her job and she does have a good heart. And it was time that she grew up. But she’s still a bit immature and a pain in the arse.

Is there a love interest for her in the new series?
Yes, she has a new lover that you don’t initially find out about. So she has got a spring in her step. But I don’t think she knows what she wants as far as love goes, even though she’s 34. Whether this relationship lasts or not depends on if certain complications can be overcome.

Are you still getting stuck into the action sequences?
Yes, it’s all part of her character. You can tell what kind of filming day you’re in for by the shoes that are left outside your trailer. If it’s a brogue, you’re safe. But if it’s a Camper then that means you’re going to be really knackered. So, yes, she does get stuck in and I do love all that. Well, until the end of the day when the director sees the potential in another running shot over a bridge with the sun coming down. It’s then that you think, ‘oh god!’.

Is Rachel anything like you?
Maybe when I was younger. But she hasn’t really changed from me at 20. There are times now when I feel that Rachel really is a bit rude and selfish. I get to play her quite huffy and I feel like a kid doing it.

Why do you think there are so few dramas in which women are defined by their relationships with other women?
I think it’s getting better. There are a lot of really good female characters. But we need more female writers to write those female characters. For instance, you shouldn’t be afraid of experimenting with making women more bolshy. They should have such attributes without being a turn off. And if they do become a turn off, then why? Is it because you’ve only ever seen women behave in a certain way for many years.

Is that why you might think Rachel is a turn off? Because you haven’t seen it all that much. Or do you think she’s just a big gobby Northern lass. Which she is a little bit. With scripts, I now look for women with meaning and a social conscience. I’m now more selective.

Scott and Bailey are going for the same job in this new series – what does that bring to their relationship?
They’ve never really been head to head as far as work goes. The opening scenes are the interviews in front of the board for the sergeant’s job and both Rachel and Janet want to be posted within the syndicate in which they currently work. So they both have this ulterior motive of trying to prove themselves. They both have their eye on the  prize, which I think is a really good dynamic.

Is there a danger, though, that it could get too fractious between them?
It’s something that Lesley Sharp and I talk about all the time. People want to see them getting on. The viewers don’t want to see them battling because that’s not what the show is about. So we’re now aware that if the script says that they’re ‘jibing’ or ‘bickering’, then we’re doing it in a way that’s light.

Do you ever re-watch old episodes?
I always think of the first series as being like the opening season of Sex and the City, where everyone had slightly bad hairstyles and they weren’t dressed as well. And then you come to series two and it’s like, ‘wow, someone’s been to the salon!’ Everything looks a little bit better because time has been spent refining the characters. The difference with the fourth series of Scott & Bailey is that we’ve had a break, we’re not filming in winter and everything just feels like it’s organically moved on a little bit.

If Scott & Bailey was to come to an end, what would be a happy ending for Rachel?
Rachel actually wants to be Gill. Late nights, working all the time, being tired, being stressed, but cracking cases. That would be her happy ending.

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Scott & Bailey returns tonight at 9.00pm on ITV