WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?
Channel 5’s Suspects is the improvised cop show that feels like real life. Executive producer Paul Marquess talks Crime Scene through the fifth series, new cast and spontaneous scenes.
Fay [Ripley] was announced as going to Cold Feet. Then we had the idea of killing Martha [Ripley’s character]. We kept coming back to that because it means you hit the ground running – it’s really clear what the stakes are for Jack and Charlie. And it allows you to introduce the new characters in a really economical way. They are all after the same thing: to find out who killed Martha.
Obviously there are health and safety concerns that have to be approached, but we want it to feel as real as possible. They’ll have talked about where he’s going to run but they won’t have rehearsed it. We’ve had moments where members of the public have just walked right through what we’re doing – and we just go with it. So you’ve always got that edge with Suspects.
Lenora Crichlow will have talked to police advisors about how to handle that scene, but we don’t rehearse the show. James Murray, Perry Fitzpatrick and Lenora all started on the same day. They spent a week with our advisor, learned how to arrest people, the caution; they did some physical stuff and improvisation. It’s very much structured around learning how to be a police officer.
There are two sorts of camera: mostly it’s shot on Gopros, and the other camera is called a Q-ball, which is what they used on Big Brother – that’s the one you can operate. The combination of that and then clever actors constructing their own interviews – I just don’t think I’ve seen anything like that on the telly. There’s a gem in every scene. I’m in love with it.
It was a big challenge going from three police officers to five, just in terms of microphones and where people were going to be in the scene. But they very quickly got into the rhythm of that. The way the process works is, they’ve got a breakdown of the scenes, but they each approach it from their own point of view. That takes us as close to real life as you are able to get.
Something like a slap is planned for – it will say in the document that she slaps him. Actors know you can’t just hit somebody, that’s crossing the line. In every edit we spend a lot of time taking out lots of swearing, particularly with Damien Molony. These days, with digital editing, it’s very easy to take swear words out. We leave what we think is appropriate for a 10 o’clock show.