Amanda Redman: ‘This series is even grittier’

Amanda Redman, who plays DS Sandra Pullman in New Tricks, talks to us about the new series…

What are some of the cases you’re going to solve this series?

“There’s a case that involves UFOs, another that tackles racism, wifebeating. Tricks when it started was fairly gritty and in this series has become even more so!”

Do you think you can get away with that more now the viewers know the characters so well?

“Yes, it allows you to go into a darker place without them feeling threatened or thinking: ‘This isn’t New Tricks any more.’ We’re still keeping the humour there, but humour out of truth instead of ba-boom.”

Dave Troughton, who killed Jack’s wife, comes back doesn’t he?

“Yes, he’s like Moriarty – the New Tricks villain. Jack is the darkest character of all of us and when Dave’s name comes up in the case, Pullman has to send him home.”

How do the team – and the writers – cope with Brian’s drinking?

“It’s very hard. How do people deal with people who drinking too much? It’s very lonely. I think the writers deal with it very truthfully and seriously. Do you tell the loved one: ‘We think he’s gone too far?’ There have been some really emotional episodes in this series, and that was especially tough for Alun Armstrong, who plays Brian.”

With Pullman, a lot of the early series she was going up the career ladder and this was a comedown for her. Has she lost that ambition?

“No, I don’t think she’s lost that ambition. I think she’s started to take on board their arguments. She even thinks that their 1970s ways might be better than those employed now. In one case, she puts herself in huge danger to the point where she could be prosecuted and go to prison. So she does stick her neck on the line. She sanctions something they do, against her better judgement, but she sees their point – not that she’s ever say that to them!”

Your show has a reputation for being great to work on, which is why you get such great guest stars. Why is that?

“The fact they enjoy themselves so much is great. These people phone up and ask to be on! For us, it’s just about getting good actors.”

What comments do you get from people on the force?

“Really positive stuff. They say of all the dramas on TV we’re the most true to life. Certainly with procedure – we’re most correct with that. The humour in New Tricks is very real.”

Will there be another series?

“As long as we’ve got something to give we’ll keep doing them. The strength of New Tricks is that we can do light stuff, then the next episode we can go dark. We can go anywhere – it’s less formulaic than most crime dramas.”

The show has lasted a long time and you all seem to get on – have you ever fallen out?

“Never. We all back each other up and we’ve never fallen out. Sorry! It’s a weirdly happy set, certainly in my experience. The facilities guys are happy to come in on a Monday morning. The crew members read the scripts.

The props guys give Alun acting notes!”

If one of you quit would you all go?

“I wouldn’t want to do it without the other three.”

Can you see it working the other way round, with three retired ladies and a male cop?

“It’s funny you should say that. Sylvia Simm said to me the other day it would never happen. I’m afraid I think she’s right. I don’t think that’s a concept any programme maker would go for and that’s a real shame. I’m not saying older women can’t hold a show, I mean this particular set up: three older ladies and a younger man! It’s marvellous but it wouldn’t happen.”

Do you have any favourite episodes?

“My favourite is The Last Laugh. I loved that. Our 3rd AD who’s been from us since the beginning wrote it. He’s still our 3rd AD, which is just above a runner. What made me laugh was for that episode, he’d be a posh writer swanning in, and the next one he’d be saying: ‘Tea or coffee?’ The Truth is Out There is a good one too.”

What are your plans after filming New Tricks?

“I’m actually taking six months off – that’s only because I did Little Dorritt last year and I’m directing a play for my drama school. I’m a bit tired!”