Back at the BBC, Anthony Horowitz has combined conspiracy and corruption with the bromance of a buddy movie for New Blood. Crime Scene visits the set to meet the writer and young stars of an explosive series.
Has Anthony Horowitz come up with another hit? We go on set...
IT'S a day in the a bone-chilling Crime January, and middle of d to summone been Scene has may be London. Jets patch of East at City a desolate of the marina the other side of reach in taking off feels just out civilisation Even in the Airport, but ground. sprawl of waste like the sort this scruffy sun, it looks of a winter a body. golden haze stumble across you might of place where nowhere,” of to the middle Eve “Welcome series producer s New Blood for a BBC announce go, it’s perfect As locations Gutierrez. rary London: contempo set in sugar crime drama – Tate & Lyle’s industrial and but also it’s urban nearby – belching smoke refinery is capital’s view of the impressive under affords an and towers with cranes skyline forested of space for also plenty on. There’s constructi sequences . action Railway, explosive Docklands the Light the the Having taken trek across trip and a a minibus expedition followed by s been a minor ground, it’ series near cold, hard the seven-part filming on the show ’s to witness For day shoot. its epic 92- New Blood the end of Horowitz, writer Anthony big-name journey. even bigger life in the my has been an years of the last 15 21st “Having spent arrived in the War, I’ve finally Horowitz, Second World Airport,” says here at City 1940s drama century out long-running known for producer, who’s best executive also Horowitz, his series Foyle’s War. of in the shooting up with is heavily involved teaming police detective Office (SFO). about a junior Fraud r in the Serious tea in the investigato an with hot warms up young As Crime Scene his is joined by Horowitz Witness) catering area, Silent No Offence, Tavassoli ( he holds stars – Ben Mill) – while Strepan ( The and Mark latest TV concept. forth on his
“This show came about after I decided that I’d written too much of Foyle’s War – it had been going on for three times as long as the war itself – and I was very keen to do a modern show that was looking at London now,” he explains. “White-collar crime, big corporate crime, all the sort of things that are making the news: the bankers, the pharmaceutical companies, property development, a charity that gets itself into serious trouble, big conspiracy stuff.”
For his return to the BBC after 13 years (anthology drama Murder In Mind ran for three series), the seasoned screenwriter has made a bold move. Just as Tom Hiddleston ( The Night Manager) and Tom Hardy ( Peaky Blinders) are bringing star power to the small screen, Horowitz has created a show with largely unknown leads.
“I think this is the first time the BBC has given a primetime show to two relatively unknown actors in their twenties,” says Horowitz. “They both play young characters at the beginning of their careers, and I love the idea of the powerless against the powerful. This is the only crime show where the characters demand a raise because they can’t pay off their tuition fees.”
New Blood will certainly resonate with twentysomething viewers as they watch these youthful investigators struggling to find an affordable flat to rent. So is New Blood aimed at a younger audience? “I really hope the Foyle’s War audience will come with us,” Horowitz tells Crime Scene. “At the same time, I very much hope also that this will capture the Alex Rider audience, who are now in their twenties and even in their thirties.”
It turns out both actors were fans of Horowitz’s books about the teenage spy when they were growing up. “Obviously, even without having to read the script, your expectations go through the roof, it was exciting,” says Ben Tavassoli, who plays trainee detective Rash. But he admits to being “nervous” about the responsibility of co-starring in New Blood.
Their youthful eagerness meant the leads were fair game when it came to the demanding action sequences. “Jumping off buildings into swimming pools, that’s been fun,” says Mark Strepan, who plays SFO investigator Stefan. “We’ve done a lot of sprinting through London, a lot of sweating. We’re about to go upside down in a car…”
“Which is about to blow up as well,” adds a gleeful Horowitz. He’s also written them a naked fight scene in a Turkish bath, which seems to be making the pair slightly anxious.
Then there’s the weather to contend with on this sub-zero winter shoot. They were filming on the coldest night of the year, when drinking water would turn to ice in the bottle. So it helps that the two actors have formed a close friendship.
“When you’re freezing, you’re in it together,” says Ben. “When you do all that physical stuff together you can’t help but be bonded.”
Despite the long days in gruelling conditions, it almost sounds like fun – especially when New Blood resembles an episode of Top Gear. “I watched the most amazing stunts on the tarmac over there,
We’ve done a lot of sprinting, and a lot of sweating
cars doing wheelies,” says Horowitz. As much as he enjoys a career creating thrilling scenes at his desk, switching between screenplays and books featuring Alex Rider, Sherlock Holmes ( The House Of Silk) and James Bond ( Trigger Mortis), he’s obviously at home on a high-octane TV shoot. “You get a real buzz,” he admits.
Crime Scene gets to see a stunning car crash and explosion that involves a Range Rover rolling over at speed by the waterfront. Admittedly, we were tucked up in bed when it was filmed around 3am, but the producer shares a sneak preview of the overnight footage on her iphone. “The stunt sequences for a purely British-funded production are very ambitious,” says Gutierrez.
The afternoon’s shooting involves a typical London location as we get back in the minibus for a scene at Royal Albert DLR station. Although Horowitz has previously complained about the costs of shooting in the capital, they have clearly gone the extra mile for New Blood.
“I think London is a big character in this film,” he says. “The production values are fantastic. We shot at the Olympic park, where our two heroes meet for the first time in a duathlon. London is so full of energy; I think we’ve captured a lot of it.”
There’s also an international element to New Blood with filming in Mumbai for early episodes about a pharmaceutical scandal. Rash and Stefan have been written to reflect the capital’s cultural diversity – and the actors share their characters’ respective Iranian and Polish heritage.
New Blood boasts a supporting cast including Anna Chancellor (as director of the SFO), while Mark Addy ( Game Of Thrones, Red Riding) plays Rash’s boss DS Derek Sands. “He’s a career policemen who’s got as far as he’s going to go,” says Addy of his curmudgeonly cop. “To his chagrin, he gets lumbered with this new guy.”
Addy’s an in-demand TV actor with decades of experience, so what’s his take on this new series? “It’s cold and people are tired but they’re a terrific bunch, and it’s been great to be involved in it,” he tells Crime Scene. “Anthony’s a great storyteller and the topics that he’s chosen are relevant right now. He’s got his finger on the pulse.”
New Blood also shines a light on the work of the SFO, who were consulted during the making of the series. “This is the first show that has done a serious job of depicting the Serious Fraud Office on TV,” says Horowitz. “It is an amazing organisation, they are taking on the biggest criminals in the world really.”
The twist is that Stefan’s undercover SFO investigator forms an unofficial partnership with Rash in the police, which brings both crime-fighting agencies together. “We get off on the wrong foot,” says Ben. “But over the course of the series, what ends up being a bromance builds from there.”
Horowitz relished having a three-part opening (“longer than a feature film”) as an origins story. Just don’t expect another gritty British crime series. “This is more a fantastical show, more adventurous – but nonetheless it’s very grounded in fact,” he explains. “There is a real danger of death here, there is real pain and real crime. The only humour is in the warmth of the relationship, that they make mistakes and get into scrapes, it makes you smile.”
As the crew get ready for another chilly night shoot, it’s time for Crime Scene to go and warm up – but not until Horowitz shares his thoughts on a second series.
“I live in hope,” he tells Crime Scene. “It’s been really fantastic fun and exciting working with such new talent, new blood in every sense of the word, in a show that is full of adventure, explosions, chases and machine gun-wielding assassins on the streets of London. Obviously, it comes down to what audiences make of it, but I’m already thinking about the next season.”
New Blood is on iplayer now and follows on BBC One in June.
Director Anthony Philipson conducts casts and crew.
Leads Ben Tavassoli (left) andmark Strepan work up a sweat. Line Of Duty star Aiysha Hart plays Leila. Mark Addy grumbles as cynical DS Derek Sands.
Writer Anthony Horowitz poses.