New BBC thriller The Control Room starts today, and the show's creator Nick Leather has now spoken about what inspired him to write the series, which focuses on an emergency call handler whose life gets turned upside down by a distressed call from someone who appears to know him.


Speaking with, Leather said that the reason he specifically wanted to write a thriller was in fact as a way to impress just one person – his nephew.

Leather said: "This is a different than anything I’ve written. I had something on the telly once and I told my nephew, and he said, 'Yeah, I don't think I'll watch it. It's not really my sort of thing. I prefer twisty-turny stuff.' Obviously, in that moment I thought 'I'm gonna write one with big twists and turns next time just to impress my nephew.'

"So when I sat down to write my big twisty-turny thing, not that long before one morning I had gone to wake my youngest daughter up and we couldn't wake her. Her eyes were half open and we couldn't wake her, and it was that horrible thing where you suddenly start panicking and we rang 999. They sent an ambulance and she was okay, absolutely fine later."

Taj Atwal as Leigh and Iain De Caestecker as Gabe in The Control Room
Taj Atwal and Iain De Caestecker in The Control Room Hartswood Films, Anne Binckebanck, BBC

Leather continued: "So when I then sat down and was trying to think of the story, when everything's okay, I just thought back to that and how, just for a few minutes, you don't know if things are going to be alright and you're so desperate. It's such an intense relationship, such an intense conversation with [the emergency call handler], who you’ve never spoken to before, and you’re never gonna speak to again.

"You don't know what they look like, they don't know what you look like, yet despite that anonymity you are so dependent on them and you're reaching out to them. And the person on the other end of the phone line is a bit of an everyday hero. So based on that experience, I thought 'God, I wonder if there's something in that as a starting point?'"

More like this

Leather also spoke about what makes The Control Room, which stars Iain De Caestecker as the central character Gabe, different to other thrillers viewers might have seen before.

He said: "I love watching thrillers but sometimes I think your hero loves being in a thriller a bit too much for me. I'm obviously not an alpha male at all and I think if I was in a thriller, it would be my worst nightmare. I'd much rather be in a rom-com or something like that.

"And so I thought my hero should be someone who doesn't want to be in a thriller, it's his worst nightmare to be in a thriller. He wants to be in a rom-com. Gabe has stumbled into the wrong show and now he finds himself in this thriller and he's terrified, and he doesn't want to be there and he doesn't want to have taken that call."

The Control Room also stars Joanna Vanderham, Sharon Rooney and Daniel Portman, and all episodes will be available as a box-set on iPlayer after the first airs tonight.

The Control Room will start on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Sunday 17th July at 9pm. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Drama hub for the latest news.


The latest issue of Radio Times magazine is on sale now – subscribe now and get the next 12 issues for only £1. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times podcast with Jane Garvey.