Messiah V – The Rapture
Starts Sunday 20 January at 9pm on
Messiah returns to BBC One with Marc Warren (Hustle) heading up a new team on the hunt of a sadistic and meticulous killer in a story that is as dark and entertaining as ever.
The impressive new cast also includes Marsha Thomason (Lost) and Daniel Ryan (The Street) along with Nina Sosanya (Sorted), Niall Macgregor (Dalziel And Pascoe) and Rory Kinnear (Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk To Finchley).
Messiah V was written by Oliver Brown (Bon Voyage), directed by Harry Bradbeer (Outlaws) and produced by Richard Broke (Tumbledown). The Executive Producer for BBC Northern Ireland was Patrick Spence.
Robert Cooper and Kate Triggs, Executive Producers for Great Meadow Productions (Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk To Finchley, Bradford Riots), have been involved with Messiah since its inception.
For Robert, the decision to cast Marc Warren in the leading role was not a difficult one. He says:
"We cast Marc Warren because we consider him to be the most exciting actor of his generation in the UK.
"We did not want to simply replace Ken Stott but create a wholly new character by casting someone who would bring an original and younger presence to the series.
"Marc has a combination of strength and vulnerability – a damaged and troubled quality – that is mesmeric."
For Marc it is an opportunity to play a dark and isolated character far removed from the flamboyance of his role on Hustle. Director Harry Bradbeer agrees that Marc brought an original approach to the series.
"He slipped into the new role perfectly," says Harry, "bringing a mood and attitude quite distinct from Ken Stott's. It felt like a fresh start and a wonderfully different one at that. Marc is an immensely watchable actor. There's always something going on behind his eyes."
Messiah has built up a strong and loyal following over the course of four series, its fans drawn to an intelligent and unsettling drama set in a blood-soaked world.
Those elements are still intact but Ken Stott's departure was seen as an opportunity to reinvent the show in terms of style and approach and lift it to new heights.
Executive Producer Patrick Spence says: "It has been given the chance to feel fresh, dynamic, youthful, whilst still maintaining the key attributes of the Messiah brand, and the show has grabbed it with both hands."
Robert Cooper is confident that fans of Messiah will not be disappointed with the new two-part story. He says:
"Our audience expects the highest standards from Messiah – of story, character and suspense.
"They want to be completely engrossed in a world where the killer is hidden in plain sight and which does what no other TV thriller does – creates a real, visceral tension that has them peeping through their fingers.
"The challenge was to retain all these qualities whilst developing a bigger world at Messiah's centre with relationships that will power a series."
Patrick Spence says: "Marsha and Dan were a huge part of the new lease of life given to Messiah. Getting two such charismatic, talented actors to come in alongside Marc was a sign of how special Messiah continues to be. They bring humour and passion to the piece in spades."
The story, written by Oliver Brown, retains all the elements fans have come to expect from Messiah.
"I love Oliver's writing" says Spence, "it was a real coup to get him to write this installment. What appealed to me most about the piece was his notion of Armageddon – it felt like a natural step for a Messiah to be dealing with the coming of the end of the world!"
Director Harry Bradbeer's vision for the series grew out of Oliver Brown's script, as he explains.
"It was a view of the world that I found compelling and complicated. The story is about redemption, loss and the collapse of society – truly biblical themes.
"It's unsettling, epic, perverse and mysterious. Oliver's writing lends itself to the world of Messiah – its darkness and threat."
In Messiah's fifth outing, a killer is intent on communicating a stark message to the world. It's a story inspired by prophecies from the world's three major religions.
Executive Producer Robert Cooper feels that it's the rigorous attention to detail and creative storytelling that make this a classic Messiah tale.
He adds: "It's the ambition and scale of what powers the centre of the story – the biggest moment in the world's history – and how what it reveals is absolutely relevant to the world now."
It's also a personal story exploring the lives and troubled histories of the team trying to put an end to the nightmare.
Harry Bradbeer thinks this is central to creating an engrossing and believable story. He says:
"What you want – above all – is for your audience to be engaged in the characters, to care for them. And to be drawn into their fate."