Smash’s Jack Davenport goes back to the 1960s to play a suave gynaecologist in ITV’s new drama Breathless, which premieres on Thursday (October 10). TV & Satellite Week caught up with Jack to find out more.
Was part of the appeal the fact that Breathless isn’t a traditional medical drama?
“Totally, if it had been a medical procedural I would not have been interested. The medical setting is just context and if you look at obstetrics and gynaecology in that era, you are able to make much broader sociological points which are really interesting.”
What research did you do?
“You don’t see us do too much procedure so I didn’t need sewing lessons, which I was thrilled about. I spoke to some doctors and we have a medical consultant on the show. It still slightly amazes me that most gynaecologists are men, which makes no sense to me and what I was most interested in discussing with the consultant was just the way that these doctors treated women on a day to day basis because women have not been very well served by the medical profession until about 11 minutes ago really.”
How would you describe your character Otto Powell?
“He is very good and successful at what he does, but his relationship to his area of specialisation is perhaps ahead of its time and his domestic life is essentially built on a lie or at least an illusion.”
What is his relationship like with his wife Elizabeth (Natasha Little)?
“There is a sense that they have an arrangement in that deathless English way, but it is not quite what you think, there is some warmth there and like all good mysteries it starts to reveal itself piece by piece. We will mess with the audience’s relationship to Otto. He is not sympathetic to start with, people should be repelled by him because he is so smooth and blatant, but you come to realise it is a really complicated scenario.”
What has it been like to reunite with Natasha who co-starred with you in This Life?
“It has been delightful, but it has made us both feel slightly old! It is interesting because with the relationship we played all those years ago all she ever did was rebuff me and now it is like a really messed up middle-aged version.”
Are you in touch with any of your other This Life co-stars?
“We all got back together a few years ago for the reunion special and I see Jason Hughes every now and again, but Andy Lincoln is still one of my best friends. I remember when he got the job on The Walking Dead and now it is a juggernaut and he is wonderful in it.”
Would you like to guest star in The Walking Dead?
“Well, it would be a chance to play a zombie, but everyone in it seems to get killed except for Andy!”
Why did you want to work in the UK again on Breathless?
“I haven’t left America, it was just because I really liked the script and it was a fantastic part in a fantastic story. I went to America originally and stayed there because we are in the middle of a golden age of American TV and there are some amazing things being made there. But now things are picking up here in terms of ambition.”
What do you miss about living in Britain?
“I don’t miss things like PG Tips because you can get anything like that in America and I don’t get really homesick because I am a child of actors. I bounce around and I know you just go where the work is. What I miss most though is just people taking the p*** as a mode of communication and they don’t do that in America.”
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