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24 September 2014
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George Gently 
Phil Davis in George Gently

George Gently

Phil Davis plays Joe Webster

What was it that attracted you to this particular script?
Well I'm a fan of the writer, Peter Flannery – he wrote Our Friends In The North, which was a massive success and he also wrote some of Rose & Maloney so I got to work with him then.


I always find his dialogue so easy to say, there's often something slightly off the wall about his characters, which makes it more interesting to play and more interesting for the viewer to watch.


Can you tell us about Webster and how he fits into the storyline?
He's a major league villain; he's like one of the Krays or the Richardsons. When he goes up to the North East in this particular story, he's on his own without his gang.


He's homophobic, and his visit becomes a quest to find and slay whoever "turned" his son into a homosexual. A very radical way of dealing with things, but that's his character. He doesn't deal with things in a rational way. He's a very violent, oppressed gangster.


You play a lot of villains, how do you make each one different?
It's like playing any character, you see a pair of shoes and you try and make them fit. There's not a special way that I go about playing a villain or a good guy. This character was more interesting than he might have been because it was period, so that made it different to a modern drama.


Did working on George Gently bring back any of your own memories of the Sixties?
I was born in 1953, so I first started to buy records in 1965, when The Beatles and The Rolling Stones first emerged, so I was up with it. But George Gently was in the pre-Sixties really, when it was all about to break.


You had this feeling of a youth movement, but it hadn't quite emerged at that time. That's what makes this period so interesting, everything was about to change and you've got the very beginning of that clash of old and new ways of thinking.


You starred in Quadrophenia; did you feel that you were revisiting similar themes here?
Yes in a way, Quadraphenia was all about youth rebellion and Mods and Rockers and the bikers in George Gently would have fallen on the Rockers side.


My brother is older than me and he was a Mod, he loved all the R&B records and all that kind of stuff, so I was just led by him really, as you are with older siblings. It was an exciting time and everyone was wearing outrageous clothes.


My brother had a pair of yellow trousers and every one used to cast disapproving looks as he swaggered along – he loved it of course.


What were the highlights of the George Gently shoot for you?
There was one particular scene, it was the first scene we shot, where Webster holds Gently hostage with a gun in a cafe. It was a long and complicated shoot but it was great to kick off with something really juicy.


I didn't enjoy the sheer exhaustion of running through the countryside though – I was worried I'd have a heart attack and die! There was a stunt double for any scenes that may bring on a heart attack though, so luckily I'm still here to see the end product.


Can you tell us about any other projects you have coming up?
I'm going to the National Theatre next to play Vassilly in Maxim Gorky's Philistines, which I'll be doing from May until August.






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