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29 October 2014
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55 Degrees North
Christian Rodska is DI Dennis Carter

55 Degrees North

The Force: Christian Rodska plays DI Dennis Carter


Rank: Detective Inspector

ID: Runs his team with an iron will. A politically astute operator who is professionally ambitious with a permanent eye on the clear-up rate

For every ambitious young cop there is always a steadying hand ready to hold him back from rash decisions, or perhaps even to frustrate him.


DI Dennis Carter is that man in the life of Detective Sergeant Nicky Cole.


Carter runs his team with an iron will and a frosty exterior. Doing well isn't enough to impress him – a detective in his charge has to be brilliant.


"He's very professional is Carter," actor Christian Rodska says of his screen alter ego.


"He doesn't suffer fools at all, people have to really prove themselves to get anywhere with him.


"Nicky keeps asking to get off the nightshift but I won't let him and it isn't clear exactly why this is.


"It could look like I want him to prove himself, or it could be racism – there are elements of that from other people. A banana is left on his desk for example – subtle things like that.


"But these six episodes are basically about people not trusting one another, so in fact he's here for a reason. But you don't find out what until the very end."


Christian wondered whether anything new could be done with the police drama formula – until he read the 55 Degrees North scripts.


"When you watch television you think 'do we need another police drama'. And then you get it and you think, 'Oh you know what I think we do. This one. At least one more'.


"But this one is different, I am sure they all say that, but it is different from The Bill and Cops."


To get the feel of the character, Christian grabbed at the chance of visiting a local police station.


"That was very useful," he says.


"Although there is a formality that is observed all the time there is also an informality – they all seemed quite relaxed. For instance people use their Christian names a hell of a lot.


"The sort of times they might refer to someone by a surname is when a superior is present or when they are annoyed with someone.


"They were horrified by the racism that was shown in the BBC documentary [The Secret Policeman] last year," he adds.


"That is an interesting thing to throw up in this series: a cockney in Newcastle, who doesn't support United, and secondly a black man. It's already a good ingredient."


For Christian, as with a number of the actors, getting the chance to film on location in Newcastle represented a personal homecoming.


"I was born in Cullecoats, just up the road," he explains.


"My mother was a Geordie and my father was a Dane, he was a sailor.


"He was wounded during the war and was up here recovering when he met my mum before going off to do the North Atlantic run.


"After the war he was actually the harbour master in Basra, Iraq. And he taught King Faisal to sail.


"Luckily for me I was at boarding school in England when the coup happened that overthrew Faisal, but my parents and younger brother were there at the time and it was quite hairy for a while before they managed to get out."


Despite living abroad for some time, Christian retains a distinctive Geordie accent, and still has family connections with the North East.


"All my aunts were up here, though sadly they are dead now. I have got one cousin left, and I have been up a few times – once to do a Catherine Cookson, then an episode of Spender.


"I keep meaning to come more often because it is so beautiful here."


Christian is most impressed with Newcastle itself. 55 Degrees North has been shot almost entirely on location, and shows the area off to its best.


"It's a wonderful city now. If you go down to the Tyne for instance and look up at those three or four bridges. The Millennium Bridge alone is a wonderful bit of architecture."

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