Alun Armstrong discusses his departure from BBC1’s New Tricks (Tuesday)…
Your last ever New Tricks episode screen this week. What can you reveal about Brian Lane’s exit storyline?
“I don’t want to spoil how Brian leaves, but I can tell you he ends up in mortal danger! Although he’s been dismissed from UCOS he can’t resist taking on one more job. Brian says if he doesn’t have a case his head hurts. Adjusting to his new life has been very difficult for him, so this final investigation is a matter of pride.”
How do his old work pals react when they discover what he’s up to?
“They’re very stern with him, which is a bit of a shock. Here are his old mates practically turning against him, which makes him question whether he would want to be back with the gang again. This is a real turning point for Brian. For the first time he sees there’s another life waiting for him – he’s about to become a grandfather and has a chance to put things right with his son, having been a very poor dad.”
Your departure also spells the end for your on-screen wife Esther. How did Susan Jameson react to the news you were leaving?
“I felt a sense of guilt about that. When I made the decision to leave I discussed it with her first and she was fine about it. She’s got a really strong role in this final episode, which I was really pleased about, as Susan and her huge following of fans really deserve it. It’s been terrific working with her over the past 10 years.”
Do you feel this is a fitting ending for Brian?
“We discussed various ideas and realised I would be sad if Brian was bumped off. When word got out I was leaving a lot of fans wrote and said they hoped he wasn’t going to meet a gruesome end – so it’s nice to reassure them otherwise.”
What was behind your decision to leave?
“It was the right time to go. I’ve loved every minute of the past 10 years and there was a real sense of sadness at going, but I like to try other things. I felt if I didn’t do it now, I’d be on New Tricks for ever.”
Have you turned down roles as a result of your commitment to New Tricks?
“Yes there have been things I couldn’t do – a few films and some theatre. The theatre side of my career has suffered the most, so I hope to get back to it at the end of this year or beginning of next.”
Is it true you had decline a part in the recent film version of Les Miserables?
“Yes, like a lot of the original London cast, I was asked to be in it, but I couldn’t because it clashed with New Tricks. I saw the film though and thought it was fantastic.”
Did you have a send-off after your last scene on New Tricks?
“Yes Sue and I were given a send-off as hubby and wife! It was very moving. The producers came and we had cake and speeches. There were quite a few tears followed by a nice little party. I will miss the gang and Brian a lot, but it helps to know I’m leaving the show on a high.”
Did you take any mementoes with you?
“I took all his AFC Wimbledon props! I was given his bicycle as a present too and I’m going to try and auction it for charity. It’s been a fun 10 years.”