David Collins may have emerged from prison on a technicality, but everyone (except his loyal brother Phil) thinks he definitely murdered his wife. That’s the bleak situation Lee Ingleby’s character faces in ITV drama Innocent, as he emerges from prison after seven years in limbo.
But the question remains: did he do it?
“It’s not a straightforward whodunnit,” says Ingleby. “It is almost like an ensemble of different intertwining storylines.”
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The four-part drama, written by Unforgotten’s Chris Lang, keeps viewers guessing as it leads in different directions and explores the impact of David’s freedom on the people around him as the murder investigation begins again, dredging up old memories and secrets.
David is detested by his late wife Tara’s sister Alice Moffatt (Hermione Norris), who – along with her husband Rob (Adrian Rowlins) – is convinced he is guilty of murder. In David’s absence Alice has gained custody of his two kids, who have taken the place of the children she was never able to have.
While his brother Phil (Daniel Ryan) is determined to support him, the police still have him down as a prime suspect – and the local community does not welcome him back with open arms.
“It’s almost like three stories, really,” Ingleby tells RadioTimes.com. “You’ve got the police investigation side of things, with a man who protests his innocence. There is an air of ambiguity over that as a viewer.
“There is also him trying to reintegrate back into a society that doesn’t want him there, and him trying to make a connection back with his kids, who probably didn’t even really know him in the first place. All they knew of him was this history; what he was in prison for.
“And then the other story is Hermione Norris’s character – somebody who’s trying to protect kids that have grown almost to the point where she claims them as her own.”
Ingleby knew from the very beginning of filming whether his character was truly innocent of Tara’s murder, but the audience will be kept guessing, weighing up the evidence uncovered by the police and by David himself.
However, for the actor, that wasn’t the most interesting part of the script: “I kind of liked the idea of somebody who thought that they were in prison for the rest of their life, but then to be freed after seven years. What effect does that have on somebody? How do they learn to cope, and try and make sense of life? I like that, the psychological impact of that.”
Prison has changed David. Whether he is innocent or not, the anger and bitterness of his seven years behind bars has had a lasting impact.
“This was a guy who had to try and survive very quickly,” the actor says.
“Violence against women can be a big stigma [in prison], so I think you have to somehow survive, and survive very quickly.
“You see the old David at times, but also this new guy who’s toughened up, is bitter and angry.”
Putting on a whiney voice, he adds: “I didn’t want to play him as some guy who was like, ‘It wasn’t meee!’ You know, he viciously protects himself.”
And for viewers fed up of dramas with cliffhanger or cop-out endings, rest assured: we will find out the truth. Ingleby promises: “There will be resolution.”
Innocent airs from Monday 14th May to Thursday 17th May at 9pm on ITV