Can you tell us a bit about Deadwater Fell?
It’s about a very small, very normal, very tightknit community in Scotland and how a devastating incident changes the lives of everyone who lives there. It makes the community fall apart because of the suspicion and intrigue surrounding the event and their devastation at it. As much as it’s happened to the family it’s happened to them all because they’re such a small, tightknit community. It’s about how moving forwards they all cope with it.
Who is Gemma Darlington?
She’s a very tough, feisty, totally driven career woman. When I say career woman, I mean she’s passionate about her job. She’s meticulous and she lives for work. She’s not married, which is her choice. In my head she’s probably got a few people on the go in the background. But she is a no nonsense, intelligent, intuitive police officer. If I needed any police work doing I’d certainly want someone like her on my side.
What was it that attracted you to Deadwater Fell?
The story and obviously who was going to be involved in it – Cush and David and Matthew. Working with Lynsey Miller, our director, as well. And Daisy Coulam, I love her writing. It was just a no brainer to be part of something that sounded so exciting. I always wanted to play a police officer or a detective. For me that was like, “Wow, this has ticked off a box” as well. It’s been a dream of mine to play someone like Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect. With all the people involved it was a please where do I sign?!
Is it fun getting to interrogate the likes of David Tennant and the rest of the community, and play that badass detective character?
I loved interrogating David. David’s character Tom and Gemma really do play cat and mouse with each other. Obviously, he’s got this massive story to tell and she’s trying to pick, with him and every other suspect, she’s trying to pick away anything she feels is not quite right. She’s super intuitive as well as intelligent and obviously David is such an intuitive actor. I had real fun trying to get through to every suspect there is, but especially David. We had some fun, definitely. That was my favourite bit.
What is Gemma’s relationship like with Steve?
From the get-go she comes in and they’ve got this chit-chatty thing going on. It’s a little, tiny bit flirty but nothing overt or overly flirty. But then obviously this is a man who is confused with everything that’s going on in his life. He has a very complicated personal life. I think it’s a breath of fresh air. She’s from outside of the village, Gordon’s character as well who’s my fellow Detective from Glasgow. They’re both not from this place. Somebody sweeps in with a whole different air about them, fresh air, and she’s confident, so, I think that intrigues Steve. Also, it’s probably a bit of a diversion for him with everything that’s going on personally.
Viewers are very much taken on a journey across two time frames as we try to unpick what happened to the family. Gemma exists in the latter timeframe. Did you know the outcome and who committed the crime from the start?
I’m trying to remember… did I?! It was probably unnecessary for us to know to a certain extent, doing the first few scripts. But Lynsey the director obviously had to guide myself and Gordon Brown, the other actor, what to press and when. We were very well guided by Lynsey about where to push it and when and when not to for more subtlety. But we did know before the end of the filming yes, and we did know before we shot the last scene.
So the series was filmed in Scotland. What was it like returning to film up there again?
It’s always great to go back to the motherland, as I call it. I’ve lived in London most of my life but when I go back there, I love the people, I love the banter, I love the countryside. We were filming in a beautiful little village there. We took over it, it was like the circus had come to town as we literally took over the entire village! It’s beautiful to be back up there amongst the people and the fresh air and the beauty of the West of Scotland. And the weather, apart from one day, really held out for us. So obviously we had a bit of lucky white heather in there with that, we were well chuffed. It was lovely. Absolutely lovely. It’s always great to go home.
Matthew McNulty was one of the few non-Scots in the cast, did you have to give him any dialect lessons?
No. He has a brilliant Scottish accent. I think I remember Gordon (Gordon Brown who plays a fellow Detective in the series) was filming with him before I was. Gordon said to me, “His Scottish accent is bloody brilliant!” But I’m not sure, I think he’s got friends from Scotland or something. He was absolutely spot on. Really fantastic. But that’s what actors do. I thought he was fantastic.