Interview with Nicholas Gleaves who plays Sergeant Phil Mackie in After The Flood - Airs Jan. 10


ITV Press Centre

What was it about After the Flood that felt fresh and interesting to you?

It’s got this wonderful mixture of having this existential threat with an environmental event, which is catastrophic mixed with this mundane, every day, realistic way that the characters in the town have to deal with it. It has this wonderful duality going on. Something really awful is happening to very ordinary people and how do they cope with it? That off the bat was the thing that grabbed me most.

What sort of man is Sgt Phil Mackie?

He’s open, good at his job. He’s friendly, decent, and honest. He’s got an interesting curiosity about life. He and his wife Sarah have been fostering children the whole of their marriage. There is a very philanthropic, open kindness about him. As far as being a copper is concerned, I think everyone in that station in Waterside could rely on him and they would very rarely be let down. He’s a straight up guy really.

What’s going on in Waterside when we first see Sgt Mackie and his officers piling into a squad car?

Pandemonium is what’s going on. Biblical rain and a full-on alarm. What damage can they limit? It’s one of these shows that hits the ground running. It will take a little while for people to establish the community and the town, but I don’t think you will worry too much because it’s just phenomenally exciting.

What was it like filming the flood scenes on Colliery Road?

It was amazingly eery. We drove to that build. We’re over Barton Bridge and you can look down on the Trafford Centre. There is Manchester getting on with its business and in a part of the car park there is this kind of Hollywood set. Then we put our waders on and literally stepped into a gigantic, half a football pitch sized tank that was a terraced street in a Northern town. It had an effect on everyone. It was quite an experience to do it and I think the show will be much richer for it.

What is the murder mystery that Sgt Mackie and his team are dealing with?

We have a whodunnit and the locked room or lift in which it occurs is also a drenched room. It’s a puzzle. But the whodunnit is just an element of what is it about society that actually drives people to do really awful things? This community that we’re talking about is one that is associated with kindness, small lives, rural people and a kind of place that you would generally think is quite safe, but it isn’t.

How did Phil get on with Jo Marshall’s dad Bren when they worked together on the force and how does that play into his relationship with Jo?

They were really good buddies; Bren was maybe a little bit older than Mackie. Even though Bren is dead before the show starts, it’s nicely placed that there are photographs and references to him, so I got to really inform the audience about Bren in the way that I react to his presence offscreen. I do believe that lead to him looking at Jo in a similar way to his foster children.

What discussions did you have with Sophie about their relationship?

One of the things about Sophie just from acting with her is that she’s got a real curiosity, she’s phenomenally good. Always infused with a lot of emotion and clarity. I felt that that led so well to this character who to all intents and purposes should be putting her feet up and be getting ready to have a baby but just gets drawn in through this inquisitiveness and the need to do the right thing. It leads her down this fascinating rabbit hole. I thought by casting Sophie who holds all those qualities, she and Jo were a perfect match. It’s a massive part and we all felt we were really being led from the front by a brilliant actor.

What made Phil and his wife Sarah decide to foster and how’s it going with eight-year-old Andrew & 13-year-old Leylo?

It’s going very well. These two kids that they are fostering are the latest in a very, very long line of kids that they have fostered throughout their marriage. They couldn’t have children, so they decided to enter into this. There is something strong and community minded about them both. Phil is very much open to the social side of policing. Sarah has this real need to be involved in politics to enable the town but also, she has ambitions that are further afield. We can look at it from the lens of what the foster parents are doing for the kids, but kids do a lot for them too.

Phil & Sarah have an interesting dynamic. What discussions did you have about that with Jacqueline Boatswain?

That was all in the writing to be honest. Mick Ford had written this relationship that has many, many facets and a genuine feel to it. A really big part of Mackie is that he absolutely loves his wife. When for whatever reason that gets tested, he loses his sense of who he is. She sees this, steps into that and reassures him. It’s a beautiful moment when she sees that he really needs to be reminded who he is because she really does know who he is.

What was it like being reunited with Lorraine Ashbourne who you worked with for years on Kay Mellor’s Playing the Field?

We spent five years working together in the mid-90s on Playing the Field. Our families are of the same age. I’m a mate of Andy (Serkis, Lorraine’s partner) and to just hang around Lorraine is always, always a delight. So, to meet up again after 15 years and to get to chat and find out where she is in her life, she’s infectious. I want to work with her all the time.

What are your memories of that time?

It’s interesting now with the Lionesses being so prominent. They should stick Playing the Field back out again and see if it gets any traction. It was a wonderful show to be around because it had that energy of the 90s alongside the flip of it not being about lad culture. It really was about the women and the women’s lives and that team. Because it was written by Kay Mellor, it had this great comedy and at times involved quite dark stories that were really intriguing. My memories of it are that it was just fun. It was a really great cast. If you look back you’ve got John Thomson, Jimmy Nesbitt, Lorraine, Lesley Sharp, Marsha Thomason. It was an amazing bunch really.

How does Mackie feel about Jack Radcliffe? Had you worked with Philip Glenister since Ashes to Ashes?

I don’t think I have, but I know Phil, and we meet socially. Phil’s fun to be around, he likes to have a laugh and he’s also very, very good at what he does. There is a sort of rivalry between these two blokes and it’s built upon a kind of mistrust. They do have genuine interests together and different ways of trying to fulfil those interests so at times they are not a meeting of minds. But it goes deeper and it goes to the heart of who Mackie is. There is a bit of two sides to the same coin going on between Jack and Mackie. He’s a great person to act with Phil so it all felt very good that.

Hailing from Bolton was it fun to be working around your home turf?

I stayed in Bolton quite a lot with my mum. We were shooting in Manchester and Stockport and we went as far as Glossop. So I would often stay with my folks. I left Bolton in the late ‘80s, but I’ve never really felt like I have done. I’ve worked there continually through my whole career. So always I live in two places.

What were your favourite locations?

I liked Glossop. I thought it was a beautiful town. Any valley town I always adore them. Just looking up and seeing hills and a beautiful square and a gorgeous river that runs through it. I’d never been there before but I’ll be sad if I never go back.


After the Flood is a mystery thriller set in a town hit by a devastating flood. When an unidentified man is found dead in a lift in an underground car park, police assume he became trapped as the waters rose. As the investigation unfolds PC Joanna Marshall, played by Sophie Rundle, becomes obsessed with discovering what happened to him and why? The mystery unfolds across the series while we also see the real impact of climate change on the lives of residents in this small town. The floods threaten to expose secrets, and fortunes and reputations are at stake. But how far will people go to protect themselves?

After the Flood will premiere on Wednesday, 10th January 2024 on ITV1 and ITVX in the UK, followed by an international premiere on BritBox later in 2024.

January 10, 2024 3:00am ET by ITV Press Centre  

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