The real-life Tony Martin was “overwhelmed” to see his police interview recreated word-for-word in Channel 4’s The Interrogation, according to writer and director Dave Nash.
Martin, now 74, was a farmer living at his remote property – known as Bleak House – in Norfolk in August 1999 when he shot dead a 16-year-old burglar at his home and injured another. He was convicted of murder, later reduced to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility, and served three years in prison.
A one-off “verbatim drama,” The Interrogation of Tony Martin, takes us into the police interview room where DC Peters (Daniel Mays) and DS Newton (Stuart Graham) question Martin (Steve Pemberton) in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
The production team were able to show Martin a preview ahead of the Channel 4 broadcast on Sunday 18th November.
“He was quite overwhelmed, I would say,” Nash told the audience at a press screening in London. “Because his life has been informed, the last 20 years has been informed by this one night in August. He’s not moved on from that. It’s part of who he is now.
“So to go and watch it and see somebody walk into the interview room on that day, it’s very visceral and it brought it back in a very immediate way.”
But tracking down Martin in the first place was quite a mission. He still owns Bleak House, but since his release from prison in 2003 he has not returned to live there.
Development producer Emily Turner spent 18 months on a “Tony Martin hunt,” with Nash explaining: “Tony, he’s got a mobile phone but it’s seldom switched on. I don’t know where he lives. After two years, still don’t really know where he lives.
“Emily I think got hold of him through a friend of his, and whenever we wanted to go visit him, we’d either just go on spec and just go and find him in Wisbech – I know that sounds mad but we would normally find him – or get a message to somebody else who would be able to locate him.”
Tony Martin (Getty)
When they approached Martin with the idea, Nash said, “he was quite intrigued and quite curious, because Tony believes he’s done the right thing. And I think he will always believe that, and that’s – and I think he feels it’s important that people understand why he did what he did.
“So I think there was a willingness there to engage in this process, but I also think the idea of doing it in this way where it would be his account in the hours after he was arrested, in his words, was also appealing.”
Although Martin was involved from the beginning, writer and director Dave Nash actually decided not to meet the man at the centre of his drama until the scripts were already written.
He told RadioTimes.com: “The producers had met met him several times before I had, and then I went to see him – I think the first time I went to see him I just was curious, really, but I’d already written the script, it had already been cast, so it felt like the right time to go and see him without being influenced in a way that I didn’t want to be.”
Martin even agreed to take part in filming – so look out for him at the end of the drama…
The Interrogation airs on Sunday 18th November at 9pm on Channel 4