Mayday

New drama for BBC One starring Sophie Okonedo and Aidan Gillen

Interview with Peter McDonald

Category: BBC One; Drama

Can you tell us how we are introduced to Alan?

My character is a policeman who lives in a community and who has been accused by someone while on duty of assault. For any policeman in that situation, his future is in the balance. So there's a lot of stress going on in his life as a result of that particular incident, and it’s having a bearing on his wife, him and their family life.

When Hattie goes missing I am one of several people who fall under the suspicion of even their nearest and dearest in relation to the crime, as a suspect.

What is Alan’s relationship like with Fiona?

Basically their sex life has been on the rails for a bit. This seems to be stress related to Alan’s job and how he is handling the situation. He overcomes this and then comes back to being a good family guy and dealing with the pressure on him. But once the seed of doubt is open in Fiona’s mind, things are open to interpretation, things he says or does plays out in her head. To Alan she’s acting weirdly and it seems there's an ongoing tension.

How are Alan and Fiona perceived in the community?

More than any other characters they are stand-up members of the community. Fiona used to be a policewoman, Alan is a policeman, they have three lovely kids and she is very involved in trying to help find Hattie. They are very upset this has happened, very sympathetic. From the outside they are very much people who operate at the heart of the community.

How did you find playing the role?

I liked the subtextual nature of Alan and Fiona’s relationship and how by using domestic conversations in a picturesque way they contain a different meaning. To me that seemed to be at the heart of what the show is about. This small market town where something very dark happens and often it’s one of those cases it’s someone within the community who does this. Once that happens it puts a shard of fear and suspicion and paranoia through a small, otherwise normal community and takes that concept and heightens it.

Had you worked with Sophie Okonedo before?

I hadn’t. I know a lot of people that know Sophie, and obviously she’s a great actress. I am a big fan of her work so it was really exciting to go and try and create this marriage with her, to work with someone as good as her. We got on really well, we really hit it off and had a good laugh working together. It was good as it made how we played off each other sit up, and it didn’t let it get too heavy.

Across the board it has a stellar cast, all really strong actors with a lot of respect for each other. It’s one of those ones that you do where you might never do a scene together as there are all these other stories going on. We are really just one story within this group of stories, and we didn’t know initially what the outcome was which was interesting. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone’s work in the show and how it was brought from the page to the screen.