The third season of The Bay arrives on ITV tonight, welcoming a brand new Family Liaison to the CID – DS Jenn Townsend, played by COBRA star Marsha Thomason.
Thomason takes over from Morven Christie, who led the series as Lisa Armstrong in seasons 1 and 2. But, though Christie isn't reprising the role, Thomason will be joined by familiar faces to The Bay cast, and some new ones too.
One such newcomer is Nadeem Islam, who plays Jamal Rahman on the series. Islam, who is deaf, discussed the role with RadioTimes.com and others, sharing his thoughts on representation for the deaf community.
"We’re not there yet, still baby steps," he said when asked if he thought deaf representation was improving. "It’s a long process, but definitely, it’s so important to have deaf representation in mainstream TV. Right now, there’s about 900,000 deaf people out there in the UK."
He added: "So signing, people who can sign, there’s about 400,000 of those. But really, the biggest thing for me is to have that representation there, you need to have that representation for deaf people, and it’s fantastic. To have deaf people in the story, it’s amazing. It’s great to have that there."
Islam's character is set to form a connection with Erin Shanagher's DS Karen Hobson. "[Erin] was just a bundle of joy to work with, she was amazing," Islam said. "She just took it all on, she really embraced it and just took on the sign language and was just fantastic, and we really bonded and connected over that, and that’s rare to find."
He explained: "Finding the time to do those things, and obviously we’re acting, we’re filming, we’re on-set, sometimes we had to just stop, put the handbrake on, take a bit of time to make sure that the signing was right, so that when we were starting to film, it was there."
Islam also admitted it was "a bit tricky" at first due to everyone having to wear masks. "And then after that it was just really easy to get along with everyone," he said, before explaining how everyone on set had been sent a BSL video with some deaf awareness training ahead of the shoot.
He aid: "When I arrived on-set I saw all these people with masks on, but then people started signing like, 'How are you?' People were signing to me – it was great, it was fantastic. We just developed a relationship really quickly with each other."
Additional reporting by Laura Denby.