Jamie Bamber: ‘The Smoke uniform had the desired effect on my wife!’

Jamie Bamber dons a firefighter’s uniform for new Sky1 drama The Smoke (Thursday, Feb 20). We caught up with him to talk about the show and how he much his wife liked his firesuit!

What can you tell us about The Smoke?
“I play Kevin Alison, a firefighter who gets very badly burned in a fire in a block of flats at the start of the series. There’s a screw up in the chain of command and he’s sent into a burning building with no way out. There are various people he blames for that and he knows he has to find out who’s responsible for what happened to him before he can move on.”

It must have been difficult filming in those firesuits all day?
“Yes it was really hard work! I’ve never sweated so much in my life! I think I lost a couple of pounds a day just by sweating. The breathing apparatus also makes you feel like you’re in scuba gear on dry land.”

…and what about the smoke?
“For the first week we were shooting with really noxious black smoke, which is basically the same kind of smoke you actually get in a burning building, because we wanted it to be as realistic as possible. Everyone – including the whole crew – had to be on oxygen all the time. But it was just so difficult and no one could see anything so after that we switched to slightly less poisonous smoke.”

Did you do much training before filming started?
I didn’t do much, but I wish I had done because I was shattered at the end of every day! My character actually returns to work after nine months of rehabilitation in the first episdoe so maybe that was my excuse for not doing much at the gym beforehand.”

How do his injuries affect his relationship with his girlfriend Trish, played by Broadchurch star Jodie Whittaker?
“He has the kind of injuries you don’t usually see on TV and his relationship is affected. Trish stands my Kev, but he thinks she’s about to leave, so he pushes her away a bit.”

How does he cope with going back to work?
“He doesn’t feel like the man he was and he doesn’t think he can do it the way he once did. But the one thing he has left is his pride as a firefighter. He believes in the job and he’s very proud of it.”

Did your wife ask you to bring the uniform home with you while you were filming?
“I didn’t take the uniform home, but I did meet my wife while I was wearing it. I met her half-way through the shoot and she saw me coming up the road and got a bit excited. I didn’t bring it home, but it seemed to have the desired effect!”

Has making The Smoke made you check your smoke alarms at home?
“I’m not really a paranoid person, but after being in a few burning buildings I think I’ll definitely be checking them more regularly.”