Interview with Jodi Balfour

Interview with Jodi Balfour, who plays Elaine in Rellik

Published: 5 September 2017
Rellik’s an interesting one: it’s told backwards, hence the title, and it demands a fair amount of concentration and audience engagement.
— Jodi Balfour

Tell us about Rellik...
Rellik’s an interesting one: it’s told backwards, hence the title, and it demands a fair amount of concentration and audience engagement. It keeps you on your toes, and it asks you to come with us in trying to use our collective memory and the memory of the characters to figure out what’s been happening.

It’s a story that revolves around a serial killer, but ultimately it’s about obsession, truth and recompense.

What’s Elaine’s character like?
We meet her when she’s recently transferred from a different police department to Gabriel Markham’s police department, specifically because she’s admired him for a long time and she requested the transfer to get to do detective work that’s a little more gritty and in the thick of things. She’s the newbie, somewhat straight laced and ambitious, and trying to do a good job.

What’s the look and feel of the show?
It has lots of dark and rich colour palettes and lots of more grimy environments that we find ourselves in. We’re definitely in the depths of East London. In the cop world that we shoot in, there seems to be a really impeccable through-line of layers and textures and grime and seediness.

There’s definitely a dream like element to the reality of the show. There are parts that feel very 2017, very London… but every now and then we’ll dip into an environment that could totally be dream.

What’s it like working with costume designer Mr Gammon?
It’s such fun. He’s the king of layers. We joke on set about how many. Kieron, who plays Mike, has the record for most amount of jackets. It’s a Mr Gammon signature - nobody ever has less than a few layers. Mr Gammon is collaborative and really fun to create with from the very beginning all the way to realising the characters.

What’s Elaine’s relationship like with Gabriel?
It’s complex. They’re deeply connected, but the relationship is clothed with dysfunction. Throughout the series, Elaine feels Gabriel pulling away, both obviously and subtly. We see them have true moments of intimacy, both sexually and spiritually, but she really feels things unravelling between them.

Gabriel is an impulsive guy. He’s your classic dark, mysterious, flawed hero. He’s a self-centered, passionate, ambitious, attractive man, but with those archetypal hard-to-get, mysterious, self loathing and self destructive tendencies.

What leads the detectives to thinking Stephen Mills is the killer in episode one?
Good old-fashioned forensic evidence at the crime scene. He leaves the acid compound and it has his fingerprints on it. They run that and it’s a DNA match. He also has a prior offence, he has a mental illness, and all of that really adds up - he fits the mould of a killer really well.

It’s an interesting thing to reflect on, how quick we are as a society to paint people in a certain light. I think especially when it comes to mental illness and any kind of prior record, how quickly we label people 'the bad guy' and go along with that. I think we do that twice in Rellik, and it’s really interesting to peel back the layers behind that and see how these people have been misjudged.

How did you find filming the rewind moments?
As actors we had to play the truth of it, we had to play the reality of it, which is chronological. I didn’t think about suspense building or anything like that all that much, I tried to honour the moment. That said, it was fun to see some of the rewind inserts after filming them, they are visually evocative.


Character Biographies

DCI Gabriel Markham (Richard Dormer)
Confident, attractive and intelligent, Gabriel is a traditional alpha-male, until the moment his world comes crashing down in the aftermath of a brutal attack. A brave and highly commended police officer, Gabriel has a self-destructive streak that has led to years of drinking, drugs and womanising. Husband to Lisa and father to Hannah, he struggles to balance his family relationships with his work, as he resorts to more and more desperate measures in his obsessive hunt to track down a serial killer.

DI Elaine Shepard (Jodi Balfour)
Elaine’s natural intelligence, combined with her warmth and determined intensity, make her a skilled detective. Newly transferred to Gabriel’s team, the two of them have an undeniable connection, and as he starts to unravel over the course of the serial killer investigation, Elaine continues to support him, protecting him from the worst of himself. As the two of them struggle to balance their personal and professional relationships, it becomes increasingly apparent that she would do anything for Gabriel.

Lisa Markham (Lark Winther)
Lisa is warm, clever, and engaging. She fell in love with Gabriel the moment she met him and never had eyes for anyone else. She has huge inner reserves of strength and loyalty and knows that Gabriel has his demons, but is prepared to put her happiness to one side to hold onto him and keep him from sinking into self-destruction. However, Lisa holds close a secret that she’s been keeping from Gabriel for years, that when it emerges threatens to sink their marriage.

Hannah Markham (Shannon Tarbet)
Sixteen year-old Hannah is intelligent, observant and sensitive. She has a loving family and a happy home life and is particularly close to her father - almost in awe of him. Hannah is very caring, with a good heart and a sensible head on her shoulders. However, when her image of her perfect family is shattered, she’s left heart-broken and her desire to act out leads her into dangerous territory.

Christine Levison (Rosalind Eleazar)
Christine is an arch-manipulator with a disturbing skill for drilling straight to the heart of people’s weaknesses and using them to her advantage. After a damaged and abusive childhood, Christine became a coldly egotistical adult, desperate for attention and with a penchant for power games. Precociously intelligent, she bores easily and has problems with figures of authority. As a result, Christine is isolated from other people because she doesn’t consider anyone worthy of her intelligence. She relishes her therapy sessions with Isaac because she likes to think she’s too clever for any psychiatrist to understand, and as the case progresses and Gabriel becomes fixated on her as his prime suspect, she begins to enjoy tormenting him as well.

Isaac Taylor (Paterson Joseph)
A professional psychiatrist, Isaac uses his warm, calm, and collected demeanour to win the trust of his patients. He’s intelligent and extremely observant, but suffers from extreme OCD. Isaac has a lofty impression of his chosen profession that borders on a saviour complex - and believes that by delving into people’s dark pasts, he’s fixing them and making the world a better place. Through the series, Isaac is profoundly affected by the loss of his closest friend and partner in his practice, Jonas Borner, and as the serial killer case unravels, it is slowly revealed that this outwardly intelligent and sensitive man may be hiding darker depths to his own psyche by subsuming himself in the darkness of his patients.

Detective Superintendent Edward Benton (Ray Stevenson)
Bullish, domineering and arrogant, Benton is the chief of the police station. Originally close friends and partners with Gabriel, Benton started to drift away from him, as Gabriel descended further into self-destruction while Benton focused on climbing the ranks. Now Gabriel’s boss, the two of them often butt heads, but manage a working relationship of begrudging respect, while managing to fix the system where they can for their own gain. However, as secrets from each of their pasts begin to surface, their professional relationship, and their long-standing friendship comes under serious fire.

DI Martin Brook (Michael Wildman)
Quietly imposing, Martin is a reassuring presence in the station, particularly for Gabriel, who trusts him more than any of his other colleagues. He works hard and methodically, and he does things by the book, meaning that he finds some of Gabriel’s more unorthodox methods of policing uncomfortable to witness. Martin’s an ordinary guy - warm, caring and sensible - and finds some of the more gruesome parts of his job too much to deal with at points.

DI Mike Sutherland (Kieran Bew)
A straightforward, popular bloke, Mike is uncommunicative, unobservant and not keen on talking emotions, but he has a good heart nonetheless, and is trusted and respected by his colleagues and superiors. Mike is a natural leader, slightly domineering at times, and he doesn’t always have a lot of time for Gabriel and his preening masculinity. When a new and surprisingly romantic relationship within the station blossoms, it brings Mike a huge amount of joy, but he remains reluctant to make it public.

DS Jenny Roberts (Faye Castelow)
Chatty, perceptive and sharp, with a dry sense of humour, Jenny is hyper-organized with a lot of emotional intelligence. She is in a relationship with the station receptionist, Alex, and considers herself very much in love. As the series progresses, she throws herself into the search for the serial killer but is side-swiped by a surprising piece of news that will change her life forever.

DC Sam Myers (Joseph Macnab)
Young, cocky, and popular, Sam loves the team atmosphere of the station and enjoys playing the class clown, but sometimes his barbs hit too close to home. Despite most of the station enjoying his company, he can push the joke too far at times, which begins to alienate some of his colleagues. Inexperienced and naïve, Sam has a lot to learn about the world.

DC Andrea Reed (Mimi Ndiweni)
Andrea is intelligent, funny, and fun to be around. She works hard and loves her job, but ends up finding Sam difficult to deal with at times. Ultimately she’s a peacemaker and a pragmatist, who defuses situations and just wants to get on with the case in hand.

DC Asim Fry (Reece Ritchie)
Asim is a loyal and affectionate friend, emotionally tuned into the people around him. He is gay but doesn’t see his sexuality as something that should exclusively define him. Stubborn, and prone to moods, he doesn’t take any crap from colleagues, friends, or suspects.

Patrick Barker (Paul Rhys)
Outwardly smooth and charming, Patrick uses these qualities to mask a cold lack of empathy. A rich and successful management consultant by trade, he is an expert at assessing situations and acting to protect his own self-interest, as well as a master of rationalising even his most immoral acts. A consummate actor, his true character hard to pin down, but he is defined by a controlling attitude to all his relationships, especially within his family.

Sally (Tanya Reynolds)
An impressionable young woman, Sally is weak, spoiled and immature. She’s easily manipulated by the people around her, and her romantic delusions lead her to more and more desperate acts.

Steven Mills (Michael Shaeffer)
A seemingly unremarkable, middle-aged man, Steven Mills has spent his life struggling with schizophrenia, and treating it with medication. Despite the consequent paranoia and delusions that accompany his condition, he is a kind man who cares deeply for his wife and daughter. When he finds himself at the centre of the serial killer case, his life begins to unravel.

Beth Mills (Georgina Rich)
A warm, kind and loving mother, and a loyal wife to Steven, Beth is a strong and stable woman. However, she is understandably worried for the mental health of her husband as he appears to be deteriorating, as well as for the safety of their daughter.

Cassie Hughes (Charlie Blake)
Hannah Markham’s best friend, Cassie has an unhappy family life and is left to fend for herself most of the time. Growing up like this has made her spikey, rebellious and distrustful of authority, so Gabriel naturally worries that she’s a bad influence on his daughter. However, Cassie isn’t as street-smart as she pretends to be, and as things spiral out of hand she finds herself desperately out of her depth.

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