Former EastEnders star Paul Nicholls tells us about joining the Law & Order: UK team as a hot-headed young detective…

You play DS Sam Casey who comes in to investigate the shooting of DS Devlin (Jamie Bamber). Sounds like a tough job…
“It is! When a police officer is shot the whole of the Force is looking to the investigating office to make sure the guy gets caught. So Sam is under enormous pressure. On top of that he has to deal with DI Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) who is personally involved and quite emotionally disturbed.”

Is Ronnie allowed to work on the case?
“No, but he has a real need to be involved and Sam can understand that. It probably is a mistake on Sam’s part, but he lets him come along.”

Do the two of them fall out?
“Initially it’s tense, but as the investigation goes along, Sam realises that Ronnie is a very wise and experienced detective and he can learn from that. At one point the tables are turned and Ronnie is leading with Sam following along like a little puppy!”

So what’s Sam like?
“Sam’s a good detective in his own right, but he’s only 32. You find out more about him as the series progresses. The storylines are always geared towards the crime rather than the characters, but Sam has his moments where you see him bending the rules. He is a bit hot-headed, but I’d say that’s down to his age more than anything. He’s pretty young to be a DS.”

Were you pleased to get the role?
“Absolutely. It was nerve wracking coming in to a show that’s so well established and I really felt like the new boy. But everyone was so lovely, especially Bradley. I felt at home after a couple of weeks.”

Will you be returning for the next series?
“I’ve no idea, but I suppose it depends on the ratings. I’d love to come back as I had such fun making it. I’m not killed off as far as I’m aware, but they can always change things in the edit!”

You’ve been acting since you were a child. Are you happy they way your career has gone?
“I’ve been working since I was eight so it’s been a long time! I remember one of the first theatre jobs I did when I was 11, I got all these great reviews and I was really excited. Some of the older actors said to me, ‘You know it’s not always going to be like this? Eighty per cent of the time you’ll be unemployed as an actor.’ I’ve always remembered that. So I can’t complain about where I am. If you’re working in this business, you’re doing well.”

Law & Order: UK screens on ITV1 on Friday, January 6.