Warren Brown: ‘It’s nice to have a laugh after Luther!’

When we last saw Warren Brown in hit drama Luther, his character DS Justin Ripley was gunned down in cold blood by a vigilante killer. This week Warren talks to What’s on TV about being reborn as an undercover copper in BBC1’s new six-part drama By Any Means (Sunday, 9pm)…

You’re no stranger to playing coppers – Ripley in Luther and John Paul Rocksavage in Good Cop. What’s different about By Any Means?
“Ripley was a detective and Rocksavage was a Bobby, they were in very different worlds. When I read the script for By Any Means it was apparent it was another completely different world to anything I’d done before and it really appealed to me.”

What can you tell us about Jack Quinn and the world he works in?
“Jack heads a clandestine team of operatives who are charged with catching criminals, who have managed to evade prosecution for their crimes, as the title says, ‘by any means’. The team are undercover so they don’t really exist.”

Who are the other players in this elite team?
“Shelley Conn (Mistresses) plays Jessica Jones and Andrew Lee Potts (Primeval) plays computer genius Tom Tom. They all have a strong moral code. Jack and Jessica very much do this because they believe in what’s right in wrong. Tom Tom, you learn, is there for community service! The team are a bit like a dysfunctional family. They all have different traits and bring something very different to the table. At this point, when we join the characters, there’s a real air of mystery, which I’ve really enjoyed.”

So who’s the boss?
“Gina McKee plays Helen, who briefs Jack on who he needs to go after. Jack is her secret weapon. So much of it is ambiguous and mysterious. As Jack says ‘it’s a grey area!’”

Who have been your favourite guest stars to work with so far?
“All of them! Chris Villiers, Michael Maloney, Harriet Walter… Keith Allen is brilliant in the first episode. It was also fantastic to work with Neil Maskell in the second one – he’s a mate, but also a great actor. Elliot Knight (Sinbad) plays a character that you’re unsure of what side he’s on. There’s been a lot of off-screen gelling and on-screen banter.”

How does it feel to be leading a primetime BBC drama?
“It’s great! I’ve been grafting and working hard, and feel I’ve chosen good projects and doing jobs that, if I’d not been involved in, I would want to watch. Luther was a great role, and then playing the lead in Good Cop was a step up from that. So it’s been steps up and up.”

And what’s the particular appeal of playing Jack Quinn?
“It’s been nice to crack a few jokes and smile on this. Although By Any Means is a serious drama it’s also got lots of laughs and lighter stories. Luther and Good Cop were fantastic, but I didn’t smile a lot! Jack’s also got far better taste in clothes than any of my other characters – he’s got some expensive garments. I’ve notoriously had rubbish cars and clothes in every role I’ve done, but Jack’s got nice suits and a nice car!”