A quick chat with George Gently star Lee Ingleby

George Gently star Lee Ingleby, who plays DS John Bachus, discusses the ITV1 series, which screens on BBC One on Sunday nights

What do you think makes George Gently unique – is it the 60s, the Northumbrian setting..?

“That’s part of it. Because the early 60s it was different because attitudes were changing, the youth were finding their voice, police methods were really basic. Even like taping an interview, they didn’t do it, they just wrote everything down, which is why corruption was such a big thing.”

What’s Bacchus’s situation?

“He’s married with a kid. He got together with the chief’s daughter and got her pregnant. At that time the thing to do was get married and live happily ever after, except they don’t, they are trapped in this loveless marriage. It crops into it every now and then.”

Does Gently give him advice?

“I think they’ve grown to respect each other as colleagues. I think Gently really likes Bacchus and sees him as some kind of son he ever had, and wants him to do right. There’s a scene where we have a charity boxing match, but beneath it we want to knock each other out – that’s the way it’s gone.”

How was it boxing with Martin Shaw in the second episode, Gently in the Night?

“Martin’s character was a proper boxer in the army, whereas my character’s never boxed, so I just had to turn up on the day. It’s a great period scene – everyone’s smoking and wearing evening suits. Bacchus jokes that Gently is past it and refers to the George Foreman fight with Cassius Clay, and it’s sort of set up like that. I’ve never boxed before.”

Any injuries?

“Not in that, but in the same film Bacchus is headbutted in one scene. That was a close shave that one – when you do it about eight times and it was getting closer and closer…”

In the second episode you end up with some foxy ladies…

“That was a nightmare to film, the whole foxy, semi-clad – yeah, horrible. He’s a young lad, there’s all this testosterone flying around. His eye certainly wanders, but he wants to be a good boy. In the pilot he and Gently talked about how Gently never had children but wanted one, and Bacchus is having a child but doesn’t want one… And you do think, ah, it’s quite sad really.”

Did you do any research into the 60s?

“I just chatted to Martin! You get a few anecdotes from him. I’ve always been a fan of 60s music anyway. The attitudes in the North East were different, slightly behind the times from say London. London was where it was happening. We always think of the 60s as swinging – Mary Quant and the Beatles, whereas this was at the beginning of that. The death penalty was still around, but on its way out, homosexuality was still illegal, but just about to become legal.”

Are Gently and Bacchus the perfect police partnership?

“Yes. It’s good because they spark off each other and they’re both different. Martin Shaw is my mentor!”

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