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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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Justice: Gary Mavers (Joe Gateacre)

Gary Mavers as Joe Gateacre © BBC/La Productions

How would you best describe your character?

Joe is a Senior Probation Officer and he comes from the area. He's responsible for working with the Judge and determining what sentence to give an offender, but he has to do it for the best interests of the community.

Joe is also responsible for the welfare of that offender, before and after sentencing. Sometimes a custodial sentence might be the best option because then they are out of the community. Or you may think about rehabilitating them, but then they're still within the community which means they may still be causing problems.

These are all things Joe has to take into consideration.

Would you say Joe is the Judge's right-hand-man?

Not at first, he's quite against him to begin with. There's a lot of friction but that's caused by other people in the office who are against him and don't really agree with his ways or the way he goes about his business.

There's a lot of jealousy, a lot of one-upmanship and undermining going on. Once that's all cleared up and out the way by the end of episode one, then Joe does become his partner.

Over the course of the series they become good foils for each other, they're like a double act. But they're both working towards the same end and even though there's friction, and they sometimes agree to disagree, they're ultimately a team.

How does Joe feel about the Judge and his hidden past?

Joe doesn't understand why the Judge is so reluctant to go into the community and talk to the people, because for him that's what it's all about.

The Judge eventually reveals that he has a hidden past, and because it involves the area where he's from, he's afraid that if he does go into the community it'll blow the lid and possibly compromise his career.

When all that comes to light they have a problem and have to decide whether to go public, or wait for the time bomb to go off.

What does Joe think about local reporter Louise Scanlon?

At first he sees her as another cold reporter who is out for a pound of flesh, but she's not. It reveals itself over the course of the series that she has got a heart and she does actually care about what goes on in the community. She's not out to destroy anyone's career.

The Judge takes a personal interest in a lot of his cases and looks to find the "human" stories behind them. Would you say Joe is the same?

Absolutely. The thing about Joe is that he's quite particular about his job. For somebody who comes from the streets and to be doing the job he's doing, you might think he would just go through the motions. But he actually really cares about where he comes from and the people in the community. He takes on his job with full gusto.

We don't know much about Joe's past, but he is a champion for the people. There's always a bigger reason why he wants a certain sentence passed. He looks at the bigger picture, and he does it for the good of the community and the people in it.

Did you do any research before you started filming?

The best bit of research was going to the Community Court in the Vauxhall area of Liverpool, and watching how the whole thing worked.

What struck me more than anything was the fact that the Judge in court that day had such humility about him. Instead of just sentencing people and condemning them, he actually communicated with the offenders in the dock. You felt like there was a real communication and understanding there, a real empathy.

For me it was a big deal and gave the characters we were playing a real meaning. When I first read the script I thought to myself maybe there's a little bit of artistic license there, surely judges and people in the court aren't this nice. But if anything they were nicer and it really blew me away.

What was it like filming back in Liverpool with a local cast and crew?

It was a real treat for me because I never work in Liverpool. I live in Liverpool but never worked there, so it was a treat to be staying at home and working with people who speak the same language with the same sense of humour. It was really relaxed and laid back. A real pleasure to do.

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