Denis Lawson: "The writing is absolutely essential"

Denis Lawson is Steve McAndrew – a retired detective from Glasgow CID.

What can we expect from your character at the start of the new series?

We get more of a glimpse into Steve’s personal life, there’s more contact with my son and ex-wife – played by Julie Graham. At one point my son gets into trouble, so I have to have contact my ex-wife, we have to deal with this problem with our son together. It’s quite difficult for both of us as it’s still quite bitter and I think our son hopes we’ll get back together.

What’s the dynamic like with the three other characters?

The team often act as a surrogate family. Tamzin’s character meets a new man later in the series and we’re a bit like older brothers, we want to check him out when we meet this guy. We cross examinine him, making sure he is the right kind of guy for her.

There’s an underlying humour throughout the series. It has this offbeat and sometimes eccentric humour, which is great. I always enjoy the scenes with Dennis Waterman, particularly when we’re playing comedy, we’re always finding stuff together and he’s very immediate. There’s a moment where we actually wake up in bed together after a very heavy night, no idea of where we are but we suddenly realise we’re in the same bed. We’re definitely trying to assert our masculinity.

I love that immediacy on camera with Dennis, he’ll just throw some extra lines in, and at times it’s so funny you have to try hard to hold it together.

What other cases can the audience expect this series?

One of my particular favourites is an episode Julian Simpson wrote and directed, about the Fleet River, an underground river that runs through London and we follow the source of the river, because we are investigating two unsolved murders, 20 years apart, one in Hampstead and another right at the point where the Fleet River ends, near Fleet Street. What I didn’t know was this was a major river that ran through London, which has now been covered over. We follow the source of the river, though the city of London and down to the Thames and you can still see where the banks of the river were, which I loved. There’s a little graveyard behind St Pancras station, which is crammed with gravestones that the writer Thomas Hardy put there when he was an architect and that little graveyard, which I’ve known for years, is the banks of the Fleet River.

It was a brilliant story and interesting information to discover. We also have a very amusing and off-beat story about a Roman re-enactment society, which is quite eccentric in its storyline, the mix of writers on the series always brings something different to the series. The writing is absolutely essential.

What do you think is the appeal of New Tricks?

I think one of the great strengths of the show is the writing; it has a big part to play in the longevity and huge appeal of the series. The way the show was conceived originally and developed, has always had good writing at the heart of it, it’s very difficult to be good with bad writing. New Tricks has that with the right level of humour running through the series, along with the investigations.

Nobody can quite put their finger on why it’s so successful, I think it’s a mixture of all of those things, it keeps an audience very interested, the intricacies of plot, and then amuses them along the way, with these rather off beat characters.

What’s been your experience of filming around London?

It’s lovely when the public pass by and they’re so thrilled to see you and they love the show, it’s always lovely to get that reaction. I remember when I started on the show, my first episode came out and the next day, I have never experienced that kind of reaction in the street from men, who would go ‘great job’ - it went on for several days. I’d never really experienced that level of response on anything else I’ve worked on. It was really gratifying and shows the huge impact the series has.

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