HONOURING THE BADGE
New police drama Cops LAC shows the people behind the badges, as series star Martin Dingle- Wall reveals to Guy Davis.
Indeed, the articulate, thoughtful Dingle-Wall is infectiously enthusiastic when it comes to talking about the process of assembling his character.
The series, which premiered last night, centres on metropolitan police station Seaview Local Area Command ( the LAC of the title) and the officers who staff it.
With a team ranging from rookies fresh out of the academy to plain-clothes detectives such as Llewellyn and his partner, Detective Senior Constable Samantha Cooper ( Kate Ritchie), Seaview LAC’s workload takes in everything from identity theft to murder.
It’s a big ask, and it can take its toll on the personal lives of those sworn to uphold the law. According to Dingle-Wall, it’s that feature of Cops LAC that distinguishes the show from other programs of its kind.
“ There’s a whole story behind these people,” he said. “ And they’re facing a world of conflict every day.
“ I’ll admit that I had that young mindset where you see a cop and you think of something wielding authority against your freedom – an interference element as opposed to a protection element. And I’m well aware that not every cop is civicminded.
“ But what I liked about the structure of this show is that it made me look at a cop car and realise that the guy and the girl in there, well, he might have a girlfriend at home, she might have a husband at home. So the show humanises these cops, conveys that while they’re working with life-or-death scenarios there’s another side to these people.
“ And the driving impulse of these people, both personal and professional, is what’s so enjoyable and compelling about these characters and about this show.”
Dingle-Wall, perhaps best known for his stint as Flynn Saunders on Home and Away ( which saw him nominated for the Most Popular New Male Talent Logie), has clearly taken this aspect of Cops LAC to heart, using the backstory for Llewellyn devised by the show’s writers as a launch pad to bring the character to life.
“ They gave us initial ideas about what they thought would work but very generously handed it over to us to actualise these people,” he said.
A well-to-do upbringing in a white-collar family, a private-school education where he witnessed unfairness and imbalance borne of privilege, an unsuccessful marriage in his younger years, a keen insight into human nature: Dingle-Wall combined all these elements and more to bring depth and dimension to Llewellyn.
“ Rhys realised at an early age that he understood the rhythms of human behaviour and inadvertently became a street student of psychology,” he said.
“ He doesn’t have any identity issues – his occupation is his lifeblood. He’s seen things that make him perceive crime in a very specific way, and he takes the attitude that he’ll deal with bad seeds any way he can to ensure the good guys get a chance. There’s a social and civic activism to him, and I love playing that.”
Just as enjoyable is his reunion with Home and Away co-star Ritchie.
“ Teaming up with Kate, our relationship as actors has grown from episode to episode, literally from scene to scene,” he said.
Next station: The cast from including ( centre, from left) Martin DingleWall, Kate Ritchie, Gary Sweet and Roy Billing.