Interview with Samuel Edward-Cook who plays Ceri in Better
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What made the scripts so compelling to read? Can you remember what your initial reaction was to the scripts?
We see a lot of series which focus on crime and police corruption or dramas with similar themes. However, I felt that with Better, the script was very funny. The writers, Sam and Jon, are both hilarious and that really does feed into the story. The drama deals with a lot of heavy themes, however, there are some very funny moments in there.
Also, it's not just another police drama or detective drama, it really focuses on a core family and how the choices of Lou, our protagonist, affect this family and the relationships within that. It's quite refreshing to read the scripts and see how the dynamics within the family change and move and the highs and the lows. Better is very different to series I've either watched or scripts that I've read.
Can you tell us who your character, Ceri, is?
Ceri is Lou’s husband. They are childhood sweethearts and have been married for a long time and they have a son called Owen, who is 17 now. Ceri has his own business, he works construction, and he is very much privy to Lou’s other life and the work she does outside of her working hours, and we watch Ceri try to manoeuvre the family through the effects of Lou’s other career.
What was it that drew you to this role?
Ceri goes on a real journey and emotional rollercoaster throughout this series. He is very happily married when we meet him, with a beautiful son and a lovely home and he owns a business. On the outside everything looks great, however, certain events throughout the series take Ceri to quite dark places and he really goes through some serious highs and lows. You see him trying to hold his family together and going through very vulnerable moments at times, and as an actor that’s exactly what you want.
How would you describe Ceri and Lou’s relationship, do you think there's a power dynamic struggle?
Ceri and Lou’s relationship is interesting because they've been together for a long time. They're a relatively young couple but they have a strong bond and have been through a lot together. Lou is a fiercely independent woman and very driven and her career has absolutely taken a front seat in their relationship, which Ceri has supported. But anybody who is married to a police officer or someone who works in a position of authority or power, they have to take a back seat in their relationship at times to allow their partner to do their job.
Lou is definitely the breadwinner, and she definitely wears the trousers, but they have this bond like no other, purely because they've been through a lot together, they've been together for such a long time, and they have this really strong connection and love for each other. For Lou, it's her outlet from this incredible pressure that she's under as a police officer, but also from the other work that she does. Ceri is her sanctuary, and Ceri is very happy to be that for her.
Can you tell us about the moment in the series where everything changes for Ceri and Lou?
There's a point in the story where their son, Owen, is gravely ill and that has a huge effect on their relationship. This is the first time that their relationship has been seriously tested in this way. Because of her work with Col, Lou was not around when Owen was ill and so there's a certain amount of resentment there from Ceri, which is heightened because of the work that she's continuing to do.
The relationship is really tested, and the power dynamic definitely shifts because for once Ceri is on the front foot and he says this isn’t right, we have a son and he has to be the priority. That causes Lou to face up to what the priorities are in her life. For the first time, Ceri has to assert some power in the relationship rather than just support Lou in what she's doing.
How do you think Lou's relationship with Col effects their marriage?
Col and Lou's relationship is an interesting one because Ceri is very aware that there's been three people in this marriage for a very long time. Col represents Lou's career and ambitiousness. Ceri trusts Lou and doesn’t question her loyalty to their marriage or their family however, he does have concerns and worries about her safety and about the kind of work she might be doing for Col because not too much is revealed to Ceri, although he's aware that Lou is working for a notorious gangster.
Lou is very careful with how much she reveals to Ceri about the nature of the work that she's doing. Ceri lives with this constant concern and anxiety about her safety, about what she's doing, and about the ramifications that it might have on their family. But he’s made that choice to support her in that, so has to live with that and suppress those anxieties as much as he can.
Do you think Ceri worries that perhaps Lou is one of the bad guys too? Do you think he questions her morals?
I don't think Ceri’s ever questioned whether Lou is one of the bad guys until the point in the story where we're faced with this dilemma as a family and Lou considers leaving this life and the work she has been doing with Col. At that point, Ceri is questioning where Lou stands morally. She has worked for Col and in this life for so long that it's a part of who she is now as a person. But over the last 18, 19 years, that Lou's been involved in this life, Ceri’s seen the benefits.
Col has supported this family financially for a long time; they've got a beautiful home and he has shares in their apartment and in Ceri’s business, in his construction company. So, I don't think Ceri’s had a reason, up until this point, to question whether what Lou's doing is a good thing or a bad thing. This is part of the journey that Ceri goes on in the drama and there is a definite moment where Ceri questions whether Lou has stepped too far over the line that she can't come back.
What’s that experience been like shooting in Leeds?
I'm a local lad, I'm from York originally, but I know Leeds very well and I spent a lot of time here as a kid. So, it's lovely to be up north and to be near home for a while. Leeds is a great city and the local crew have been brilliant. Most of us are all from up north and it's just lovely, it's a big family. Leeds as a city is fantastic. It's a great place to work and there's never a dull moment. I'm actually staying right in the centre of Leeds, and it is pretty wild on a weekend, it's a thriving city.
Episodes will air weekly on BBC One at 9pm from Monday 13th February, with all episodes also available to stream as a boxset on iPlayer.
Source BBC One
February 8, 2023 4:00am ET by BBC One