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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Inspector George Gently – Lee Ingleby

Lee Ingleby

Inspector George Gently works like a well-oiled machine and both Martin and I have got a grip as to who we are playing. It's always fun to do. I like the part – Bacchus has some balls to him rather than just being a side-kick (I hate that term!) and there's more bottle to him. He has a mind of his own. He's opinionated & he's very much of the time and place.

Bacchus and Gently have a weird relationship – one minute they are like father and son in every respect, with Bacchus the child and Gently the stubborn father, then Bacchus thinks Gently is an old-fashioned copper and that he's holding him back in his career.

Bacchus still wants to grow and is in a hurry with his career. For us, we enjoy filming the most when we are having scenes about what the two of them are thinking, as it shows the period off in the way that people thought in the Sixties and just how much has changed.

Martin and I get on great and one of our pet projects on set is to play games on Simon Hubbard, who plays PC Taylor, (Bacchus and Gently's uniformed officer) – he had a stupid moustache this year so he was really bound for ridicule!

What was it like filming in the North East?

It was really nice to film where Peter Flannery set the series, it made it feel so rich in the locations, too. We'd got used to filming in Dublin for a couple of years, with the same crew, and it had been like a little family, I suppose, so arriving in the North East we had a new crew – except for our director, Daniel (O'Hara), who's great with new sets, and it was amazing.

Hopefully, viewers will notice little things like having the views of Durham Cathedral on top of the hill through the windows of the police station. It was such a dominating building, which just set us so strongly in the city.

There were so many places to film location-wise. The people were so warm and it was great fun. I grew up over the Pennines, as I'm actually from the North West. I liked exploring around Newcastle and the surrounding areas whilst we were filming.

What's happening between you and your on-screen wife?

It's all gone a bit pear-shaped, his marriage, and now it could be that he,s lost his wife, Lisa (Melanie Clark Pullen). So he's thinking twice about his actions and what he wants. This series he gets advances off other women and he doesn't want to know.

In Love And Peace, he comes across a certain university student, Adriana (Myanna Buring), who is very modern, forward and sexually open – and that was just in between takes!

He's a boy again. It's purely sexual for her as the character's into free love and anarchy and for him (still a married man and in that period) you couldn't do something without guilt. But it was the only time he could have done something without guilt, as he's currently separated. He actually does seem pretty upset about Lisa.

Plus, he can't handle the fact that his boss is spending all this time with his Mrs. I don't think he wants Gently knowing about his private life, either. He wants his work and private life to be separate and they are starting to mingle. He can't handle that and he hopes it's all a paternal relationship (which it is) but he's not sure.

Melanie, who plays my wife, Lisa, was just starting to show a wee bit whilst filming, as she was expecting her second child, so we had to be careful as to what angle we shot from – as that would not have worked in the story context!

What car are you driving this series?

I've got a new car, more of a sensible car now he's got his little daughter. It was in great nick so it could give a bit of welly, which I wasn't able to do with the MG. I had a great time doing a spin in this one. Bacchus decides to hot-tail an ambulance, but was facing the wrong way. The vehicle guys trusted me, so they said to stick it into first gear, get the pace going and lift up the hand break and you'll get going on a 'spinny'. I was terrified but it was great!

Did you have a football match in Gently Evil?

Don't talk about football! It made me realise how unfit I am, to be frank. Me and another guy had to do the old one-two. Well, they picked the two people who had left feet and I should never have had a big breakfast before filming the scene! We'd go to shoot again and I just couldn't – I had to have time out! Plus I don't have the legs for a football strip! I won't forget that in a hurry. I've had to start exercising since!

Were there any memorable scenes?

Lots! The first film, Gently Evil, is very intense and layered and quite dark. Natalie Garner, the little girl who plays Agnes, was amazing and I have to say great fun to work with.

Filming the second film, Peace And Love, was more colourful with hippies and actually filmed at the university, which was great. At the start of that film I'm back in uniform for a bit of overtime, as it was all hands-on deck for the CND riot. It felt quite good in uniform, I liked the three stripes but I don't think the helmet suited me! It was a big crowd filming the scene, with the rioters, who came marching, shouting and ranting towards us and the energy was really up.

What's your style this series?

Well, it's 1966, so we've tried to step out of the shirt and ties a bit. Bacchus gets to wear cardigans and polar necks so you get a vibe of the era. I've got a Beetles hair cut this season too.

As an actor, Lee is a true chameleon – and is currently working with Mike Leigh on a new project, but will certainly make time to catch Martin in his new play.

Recent television roles have included: Crooked House, A Place Or Execution, Rapunzel (when he played a female tennis star), Life On Mars, Wind In The Willows as Mole, Early Doors, Nicholas Nickleby as Smike, Spaced and Nature Boy.

Recent films include: Doghouse, Wintering, Hippie Hippie Shake, Harry Potter, Master And Commander, Borstal Boy and Ever After.

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