THE SMOkE! SIzzLIng nEw ACTIOn!
The Smoke Season 1 Thursdays (from 7 August) M-Net 21:30
“Kick-ass, life-threatening fires and emotional explosions” – that’s what you can expect from new action show The smoke, reveals lead actor Jamie Bamber, who takes on the role of firefighter kev Allison. The eight-episode series revolves around kev and his difficult relationships and in the opening scenes we see why he’s so troubled: he’s severely burnt (while trying to save a baby) and betrayed during the worst fire of his career. Those scenes are epic, harrowing and hot (pun intended) and Jamie says that the fires and stunts seen in the show are all real. No CGI was used and he did most of the stunts himself.
The smoke is written by Lucy kirkwood, who’s behind the controversial Brit youth comedy series skins (2007-current). Other than Jamie, it’s got Jodie Whittaker (Beth Latimer in Broadchurch, 2013-current), Rhashan stone (he played Major sinclair in 2011 and 2012 in strike Back, 2010-current) and Gerard kearns (he was Ian Gallagher between 2004 and 2010 in the Uk version of shameless, 2004-current). And judging by her reaction, Lucy’s excited about her show: “I write visually and I wanted to make a very cinematic piece of television.” Although it’s a British series, The smoke’s feature film-style and high production
NO STUNTS DOUBLES
values make it appear and feel like a Us-filmed series. “I like to be as involved as I can, so I did basically all of my own stunts… with the exception of maybe two or three of them, which was down to insurance reasons. One was a huge fall, the other an explosion – sometimes it’s just not possible to get the insurance for some things for a TV show.”
ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN
For the baby rescue scene in the premiere episode, the crew had a bit of a problem with the dummy baby. Producer Chris Fry explains that “realistic dummy babies are made of a material that would melt in the heat, so the solution was to use two different dummies. The more realistic one was filmed when we used less flame and smoke and the less realistic one when we needed more. Unfortunately, with the unpredictability of fire, the realistic baby was damaged. Given the high cost of these dummies, it was an expensive accident!”
WHERE THERE’S SMOKE…
Effects supervisor Colin Gorry says that the team didn’t want the fire to look like just any other fire. The director and producer wanted gritty realism and accuracy from the fire effects. “It meant we would be using black smoke in some interiors and would have actors on fully simulated fire sets.” But as Colin explains, black smoke is toxic and normally only used outside and in restricted circumstances. The sets were “carefully locked off and sealed with double curtains, then smoke was piped into the set using a purpose-built burn tube with a chamber to hold the three consecutively burning smoke canisters needed to complete one take”. Colin adds that the camera crews did an amazing job while shooting fire scenes. “Wearing fire suits, they got right into the heat, creating the camera angles and enhancing the illusion of the actors against the flames.”
THAT AWKWARD MOMENT WHEN…
Expect a painful (literally) shocker early on when kevin drops his pants towards the end of the first episode and reveals the extent of his burns. And it’s not pretty as there’s scar tissue everywhere. Jamie says that it was actually one of the most difficult scenes for him to shoot: “I just had to get over it really. It was partly down to that scene that I wanted the role. It’s the most important scene and I wanted it to be as real as possible.” He adds that the team had to look through a photo book of real-life burn victims to get a full understanding of what they needed to recreate. “But obviously it was initially awkward. Basically it involved lots of shaving, tucking and keeping things tidy really…” The scene was shot without telling the other actors what was going to happen, so the painful responses on their faces are 100% genuine.
trish tooley (jodie whittaker)
kev allison (jamie bamber)
rob (david walmsley)
Ziggy brown (PiPPa bennett-warner) billy the mince (dorian lough)
big al (martyn ellis)
little al (gerard kearns)
mal milligan (rhashan stone)
gog (sam gittens)