Wild At Heart’s Stephen Tompkinson talks about his role as DCI Banks in the new two-part cop drama Aftermath.

This is an adaptation of the DCI Banks novel, Aftermath. What’s the story about?
“Five young girls have gone missing in Leeds in nine months and the police haven’t got any results. One night, in a routine call to a domestic disturbance, two PCs stumble on an horrific scene – the serial killer they’ve been hunting has attacked his wife. Once the police have forcefully subdued the killer, they discover four bodies in his basement…”

But it’s not a straightforward case, is it?
“No. Because the killer had to be subdued with a baton he ends up in a coma. They’ve found four of his victims – who were tortured and murdered – but there’s still one girl missing. So Banks is driven by the chance she could be alive.”

What kind of detective is DCI Alan Banks?
“He’s certainly the most intense character I’ve ever played. He’s completely married to his job, almost too emotionally involved for his own health really. He’s a very humanitarian detective so each murder case he investigates pushes him to the edge of breakdown. It’s like doctors and police officers have to have a certain amount of detachment to do what they do, and Banks doesn’t have that.”

Are you a fan of Peter Robinson’s Banks’ novels?
“I hadn’t read them before I got the script, but he has a huge fanbase – his last two novels have been number one bestsellers and Stephen King says Peter is his favourite author. I quickly got into as many of them as I could – there are 17 of them to immerse yourself in – which was the best research I could possibly have done. Peter had done all the groundwork of speaking to policemen and doing that share of the work for me, so I could just get stuck into the novels and find out as much about the character as possible. I also met Peter, who’s a Yorkshireman originally but now lives in Cananda, and picked his brain for three days.”

What’s it like taking on a famous literary character?
“It’s a privilege but also a responsibility to the readership because they were there first and obviously you’re not going to match everyone’s vision of Banks. I’m five inches too tall and my eyes are the wrong colour but I was hoping to do the rest with my acting!”

Can you describe Banks’ relationship with DS Annie Cabot, played by Andrea Lowe?
“Annie is a detective brought in to investigate the officer who put the killer in a coma, which doesn’t feel right to Banks. There’s a definite frisson between them – they have an interesting relationship.”

This is a two-parter, but do you hope it will become a series of films?
“Yes, we’d like to have a go at using the same approach of doing two one-hour episodes per book.”

Do you think your Wild at Heart fans might be shocked by this darker drama?
“It is dark because it’s a horrible case but there’s nothing completely shocking or gratuitous to make you switch off.”

Are you a fan of TV detectives?
“Absolutely. Before we had watercooler moments we had playground moments, where we would all dissect The Sweeney if you were allowed to watch it. Colombo was always one of my favourites too, I thought Peter Falk was superb.”

DCI Banks: Aftermath starts on Monday 27 September at 9pm on ITV1