Interview With Martin Freeman (Chris Carson) In 'The Responder' season two, which airs on May 5

Martin Freeman and the cast and creatives discuss new characters, complex relationships, and Scouse accents in series two


Will be available on BritBox this summer. Filmed in and around Liverpool, the new series joins the unconventional urgent response officer six months on from series one



30 April 2024 – The Responder is a distinctive new take on crime drama from the makers of The Salisbury Poisonings, Dancing Ledge Productions. Written by ex-police officer Tony Schumacher, his first original series for television, The Responder holds a mirror up to the emotional extremes of life on the front line of British policing – sometimes darkly funny, sometimes painfully tragic, always challenging. The Responder follows Chris Carson (Martin Freeman), a crisis-stricken, morally compromised, unconventional urgent response officer on the beat in Liverpool. Whilst trying to keep his head above water both personally and professionally, his partner Rachel (Adelayo Adedayo) is also looking for meaning in the job but can’t seem to find it anymore. Both know that if they are to survive, they will need each other more than ever.

Series two joins Chris Carson six months on from series one. Chris is attempting to rebuild his life, and his relationships, desperate to avoid the corruption that nearly sucked him under. He is trying to be a better police officer, a better man, and most importantly, a better father to his daughter Tilly. All whilst still dealing with the relentless trauma of being a night response officer. Chris wants a day job. Chris needs a day job. But is he prepared to risk everything to get one? Rachel Hargreaves is putting her life back together too. She’s still fuming at the way Chris dragged her down with him into the dirt in series one, and now she’s desperately trying to take control of a life and a career that sometimes feels like it’s slipping away. But after working with a succession of ‘normal’ coppers, Rachel is starting to realise she’s got more in common with Chris than she’d ever want to admit. As they are sucked back together, and into the night, they must pull each other back into the light. But then a routine stop on a black Range Rover changes everything, and suddenly the darkness beckons once again.

The Responder (5x60’) is written by Tony Schumacher and produced by Fremantle-backed Dancing Ledge Productions, for BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

It is directed by Jeanette Nordahl, Mounia Akl, and Charlotte Regan and produced by Barrington Robinson with multi BAFTA award-winning and Emmy-nominated executive producers Laurence Bowen, Chris Carey and Toby Bruce for Dancing Ledge Productions. Rebecca Ferguson is the executive producer for the BBC.

Fremantle is handling global distribution for the series. Filming took place in and around Liverpool City Region with support from the Liverpool Film Office.

Series one of The Responder is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

Interview with Martin Freeman (Chris Carson)

Were you surprised by the audience’s reaction to the first series of The Responder?

We were all excited by the first series and hoped what we were making was a good show. There are a few times in your life, if you're lucky, when people connect with something you've made in a way that goes beyond your dreams or what you could have wished for. I really believed in the show and felt it was a very good piece of work. It’s one of the most successful things I've worked on and I knew within reading the first five pages that I wanted to play this character.

Were you pleased at the reaction to your scouse accent?

It was a massive relief! It still gives me real joy when I hear people say, “I didn't know Martin was a Scouser” and when Scouse people say to me “I didn't know you were from here”, that's the best. It's like being a double agent, I got away with it!

What was your reaction when you read Tony Schumacher’s scripts for series two?

Tony has been writing for a long time but the fact that this is his first television drama means he is far from having gotten into a comfortable groove or formulaic. He just puts on the page whatever the hell he thought needed to be there and that is exciting. I connected with Chris immediately. What I liked about him, and Tony’s writing, is that sometimes we can mistake a drama for an essay on how human beings are supposed to behave with each other. That's not what this is, and it is not what it has become for series two. Tony has kept that authenticity and thankfully has avoided any of those traps – which keeps the scripts feeling fresh and the characters true to those we created in series one.

How was it coming back to play Chris? And what is it that gets you back into character?

It’s the accent and the uniform – I move differently and speak differently. Any accent you do, it's a physical act and creates a chain reaction from what you’re creating vocally to the rest of you and the uniform is a big help, it changes how I move and walk because it is so cumbersome and it's not comfortable.

What do you like about Chris as a character to play?

The reason I wanted to play Chris is that he is a great mixture of vulnerability and strength. I think there is something about a man of few words that is attractive. There's a reason why people like characters that don't have to over-explain themselves and I think Chris is one of them. What I like about this show is that we weren't judging him. You don't always like a person but that doesn't mean you write them off as a human being completely. Chris doesn't always have to be doing the right thing and that appealed to me. He’s not super cop but he is essentially a decent person. He is complicated and conflicted.

Where do we find Chris in series two?

It’s six months on and Chris’ relationship with his missus is in a bad way. He loves his daughter, but his marriage is not in a good place. His relationship with his job is terrible and we join him at a point where he’s trying to help himself. In the first series, we saw him attending therapy sessions provided by the police service but it’s hugely underfunded so this time round he is attending his local church men’s group run by a priest, Father Liam. He's trying to help himself and find some light.

In series one Chris claimed that all he wanted was to be a good bobby. What does Chris aspire to be in series two?

Chris wants to be a good dad and a happier person but he's not in a good way and that’s at the heart of the story. It’s not all about Chris but we do see him experiencing different levels of stress, anger and regret. What Tony does brilliantly is let his scripts breathe and that’s my favourite thing about them. Rather than be too plot driven, the drama is story and character led and in series two we get to see more of the lives of the characters we came to care about in series one.

How has the relationship between Chris and his former partner Rachel changed and grown since series one?

Chris and Rachel’s relationship is thawing out a little now they're getting a little bit closer. The battle lines between them are coming down a little bit and they're a bit less spikey with each other. There's a bit more air in their relationship now they can look at each other and go, “you're all right, you're a good person.” That doesn't sound very dramatic, but it’s real. I like their relationship a lot for that and the fact they look out for each other, in their own ways.

When we first met them, Rachel doesn't want to be mentored by Chris because he's a mess. She's just come out of college and she's on probation and is still thinking she can do it by the book and Chris is in no doubt that you can’t do it like that. In series one they are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but in this series that has all changed. Chris is wanting to be better, a better dad, a better copper, but Rachel is deeply struggling and isn’t playing it by the book anymore – so they are at the other ends of the spectrum.

How is Chris’ relationship with Kate and how is it working with MyAnna Buring?

Chris and Kate are not in an easy place. We've never seen them in love, in the first flush of that relationship when they presumably were a bit more carefree and all that, and he was probably a bit less of a nightmare and she was probably a bit less moany. But they are both those things now. So the stuff with Kate and Chris is pretty heavy, but playing that with MyAnna is great, she's great. She's fun and bananas and so we are very different in real life from Chris and Kate!

We meet Chris' dad in this series, why is that such an important character?

Chris’ dad is an important character in this series because it's part of Chris' origin story. We've met his mum, now we're going to meet his dad. And, as has been established in the first series, in Chris' chats with his mum and his chats with his therapist, his dad is a very important figure in his life, for obvious reasons all round, but is probably the root of his rage. It's not an easy, straightforward relationship with his dad.

What does Bernard Hill bring to the role of Tom?

We had very good people in mind for the role of Chris’ dad and Bernard Hill was always one of those people and luckily it worked out! We were all very excited to get him and I actually think, we don't make a bad father and son!

What is Chris’ relationship with Franny?

Franny is a major drug dealer and all-round shadowy guy who has a building firm. So ostensibly he's a builder, but he also runs a massive drug cartel in Liverpool. He is a very charming, likable fellow, but one who will get people killed if it's in the way of his business interest.

Why did you want Adam Nagaitis for the role of Franny?

Casting Franny was really important because it was a big character so I asked if we could see Adam Nagaitis because ever since I saw him in The Terror, I thought that he was unbelievably good. He just had something that was scary and very, very beguiling about him and because he has that balance of danger and charm, I thought he would be right for Franny and he is. I love him, and I love working with him.

Casey and Marco were such popular characters in series one, what can we expect from them this series?

Marco and Casey are brilliant. I'm gutted that I hardly have anything to do with Marco in this series. I have a little bit to do with Casey, but not as much. And I want my money back!! Because I want to be with Marco and Casey more as they're such great characters. Josh and Emily have a certain spark with each other. It’s very easy between them and they became best mates instantly. They've taken the role as the naughty school kids at the back of the class in this production, but they're fantastic at their jobs, as a craft, they're really good at it, they both give beautiful performances. Really beautiful.

Source BBC One

April 30, 2024 7:00am ET by Newsdesk  


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