Murray Devlin

Editor of the Glasgow Daily News and Paddy’s boss

Unprepared for the corrupt work ethic inflicted by new Editor-in-Chief Maloney, Devlin finds himself at loggerheads. Despite jeopardy to his paper and reporters, he’s a fan of integrity and hard-nosed journalism and having always been a quiet supporter of Paddy’s, encourages her and McVie in their pursuit to uncover the truth.

David Morrissey plays Murray Devlin

How has the story moved on since the last series?

Newspapers then and now fight for a free press but in the 80s the rules were very different.
David Morrissey

We’re now in the heart of the 1980s strikes. Paddy is now a star reporter working on the paper proper. But the paper’s under threat, its sales are down and the new management have come in to shake it up which is exactly what happened in the newspaper industry back then. More than ever Murray’s job is on the line, he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place between his morals, running the business, keeping the paper afloat and keeping staff employed.

Describe your character, Murray Devlin?

He’s hard but fair. He’s a journalist at heart but he’s the editor of the paper so the buck ultimately stops with him. He’s from out of town so he’s something of an alien but has been taken to heart by Glasgow and he’s loved by his staff.

His journalists recognise the threat looming over them but they look up to Murray. In this storyline he starts to change under the pressure from outside management. His reporters seem to think that he’s slightly liquidising and diluting the story which they feel is stronger than is being reported in order to cowtow to the management and the owners of the paper.

Above all else, Murray wants to keep the paper open but it’s a tricky task.

What is it that drives him?

Whenever I speak to reporters, especially older ones, there’s a sense that once you’re involved in being a reporter it gets into your blood. I think Murray is very much married to the job, he loves it, loves print journalism and newspapers and thinks it has a very important role to play in the free press. He’s old school.

Do you consider Devlin to be a moral man?

Oh yes. He has very strong morals born out of his working class roots. But I also think that he can see that the world is changing around him and he is a bit of an old dinosaur trying to adapt to the changes.

What challenges does he face in this series?

The challenge for him is to tread that fine line between workers and management. For him, the people who buy the paper pay his wage, pay everyone’s wage and he tries to put them first.

The world is changing especially from a local paper point of view and he finds that quite difficult to take – to keep integrity and their readership but also keeping the business of the paper alive.

He looks out of his office window and knows his staff have bills to pay – everyone’s living in hard times and need their jobs.

The miners’ strike is very difficult for Murray because the people who own his paper don’t want it reported as he would, they want to demonise the very people who buy their papers.

And what challenges does Maloney present him with?

She represents a very right-wing new political machine that has taken over newspapers in the 1980s - she’s there to make sure that the management stance is represented. He’s confused by that.

The thing about Devlin is that he assumes everyone’s integrity is like his own so he gives her the benefit of the doubt.

Do you think Devlin feels protective of Paddy?

Yes, a little, but he’s also aware she’s bloody good. She’s got talent and that talent is to be protected, looked after and nurtured. Not only is her heart in the right place, she writes brilliantly. With the best will in the world, Paddy mirrors back to Devlin all the passion he had for journalism when he was a young reporter. She’s like a dog with a bone when it comes to finding a story, her instincts are right.

From very early on he saw something in Paddy, and I think that’s part of the reason why he’s loved by his staff because he’s willing to take risks on people. They know he’ll never throw anybody under the bus for his own gain and I think it’s very important for his reporters to know that they’re supported from above. There’s a solidarity in the newspaper which as far as the management are concerned is a threat.

What was it like to step back in time to the 80s?

It’s great. Actually it’s just nice to be back with the Field of Blood team, we all got on so well and it was such a great job to do. We knew that there were more books so we were all waiting patiently for the next series. I think David [Kane] has done a brilliant job, he’s a brilliant writer.

I really enjoyed being back in Glasgow, I’ve got great friends up there. It’s a great place to live and work – it reminds me of my hometown, Liverpool.

Would it have been a time you would have wanted to work in newspapers?

I do actually. The idea of being in a newspapers working around an emerging story which you believe in, is exciting. Newspapers then and now fight for a free press but in the 80s the rules were very different. I don’t know how good I would have been at it but I think it’s a world which fascinates – I’m probably romanticising it terribly though!

Was it a more innocent time of reporting in the 80s?

I think it was probably a more confrontational time than it is now. In a way there was probably more solidarity in papers back then although it had great problems too. It wasn’t a wonderful world, far from it, but there were great sweeping changes in the 80s with the likes of the strikes and a Thatcher government.

Any memorable moments from filming?

There was one scene where we had to eat sausage rolls which was quite weird…after my 18th I had had enough! My overall memory is laughing a lot. Ford [Kiernan – plays McVie] and Brian [Pettifer – plays Father Richards] are just brilliant – when those two get together you could sell tickets, they’re so funny, an amazing double act.

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