The big mid-series twist in Save Me Too might have come up as a surprise to viewers, but series creator, writer and star Lennie James has revealed that the shock turn of events was planned from the show’s very beginning.
Having spent the first series of Save Me hunting for Jody (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness), her father Nelly (James) discovered his kidnapped daughter almost by accident while pursuing a lead in the fourth episode of follow-up Save Me Too.
“I knew that Nelly would not find her after the first six [episodes] and then he would find her completely by accident in the second six,” James told RadioTimes.com, as part of an interview to promote the release of Save Me Too and the Save Me 1 & 2 box set on DVD and digital.
“I didn’t know exactly what episode but I did know that he would find her. Right from the pitch, [broadcaster] Sky and everybody was aware that Nelly would not find Jody after the first six episodes.”
As for why Nelly was reunited with his traumatised daughter, who’d been sold off into a sex trafficking ring, in the fourth of Save Me Too’s six episodes rather than earlier or later, James explained: “I didn’t want it to be at the very beginning because I needed to set up Nelly’s relationship with Grace [another survivor of the sex trafficking ring, played by Olive Gray] and I didn’t want it to be at the very end because that’s very ‘TV’ and I didn’t think it paid due respect to the story we were telling.
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“It was always important to me that there was life after finding Jody, there was story after finding Jody, so [finding her in episode four] held true to the themes that we were trying to explore.”
James also felt that having Nelly find Jody by pure luck added a “sense of authenticity” to a story development that he feared could play as implausible.
“I’m taking a slight liberty by having him find her at all,” he admitted. “It’s not necessarily what usually happens. I mean, we might have got used to it on TV but in real life it’s not really what happens.
“So partly how and why Nelly finds Jody in the way that he does is because I did feel like I was slightly pushing against the ultimate reality of it. That’s why it’s set up as kind of an accident and why the euphoria that Nelly should feel afterwards, he doesn’t quite – he almost has a bit of a breakdown because as fantastic as it is that he found her, he could just have easily not have. And that kind of shakes him. And that emotion I feel is real and I can explore the reality of that, even if I’m taking a slight liberty of how we got there.”
Save Me Too is available on digital now and on DVD alongside Save Me 1 & 2 Box Set from 22nd June.