What lies Beneath...
When you see Robert Glenister and Lesley Sharp’s names on the cast list for a new crime series, you know it’s going to be special. Their names are synonymous with captivating drama.
Sure enough, Robert, 56, assures us that new eight-part ITV thriller Paranoid is head and shoulders above the usual police procedurals.
‘It starts off as a fairly generic crime series, about a brutal but seemingly domestic incident in a sleepy Cheshire town,’ he tells
TV Times as we chat to him on set.
‘Then it becomes something much bigger. All of a sudden the case goes global and the German authorities get involved. For the investigating officers, it becomes the challenge of their lives.’
The former Hustle and Spooks star plays Bobby Day, a detective investigating the shocking murder of a GP, killed while innocently pushing her child on the swings in a playground. The crime is witnessed by garden centre owner Lucy Cannonbury, played by
Lesley Sharp, a suspiciously perfect witness who seems to remember every detail rather too clearly.
‘Paranoid is about a group of characters in free fall,’ says Lesley, 56. ‘Lucy definitely has a past, but you don’t find out about it until quite a way into the story. What transpires is really unexpected.
‘On the surface she deals with the world in a very wholesome, considered, calm way, but there’s something hidden about her. It’s fantastic to play a woman making choices about her own life, and all of the female characters in this series are absolutely diamond. Lucy is also there to offer a new perspective to
Robert Glenister and Lesley Sharp on starring in a new crime thriller where nothing is quite as it seems…
both Bobby and the audience.’
The case initially seems cut and dried, with a prime suspect easy to identify and track down. Then Bobby discovers a mysterious ‘ghost detective’ is approaching witnesses and making his own enquiries.
‘This other detective starts sending them clues and bits of information,’ reveals Robert. ‘Bobby doesn’t understand why. It really confuses him, especially because he’s not in the best state of mind – he’s suffering from depression and it gets worse throughout the series.’
Bobby has to manage his own anxieties on top of his professional responsibilities, making him extremely sensitive to the challenges of this investigation.
‘He suffers from panic attacks, and the pressure he’s under at work makes it worse,’ adds Robert.
‘I’ve had to film hundreds of attacks for this role. One time we were shooting at Anderton Boat Lift, an extraordinary, very high structure between the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal in Cheshire. We were there all night in the freezing cold, so actually performing panic attacks in that scenario wasn’t so difficult!’
early in the investigation, Bobby finds himself drawn to Lucy, who is a Quaker and tries to support him through his anxiety.
‘He’s been on his own for quite a long time and suddenly she offers him something that nobody else can, which is a sense of tranquillity and peace – it’s a completely different take on life,’ says Robert.
‘I think he knows it’s dangerous to get involved with a witness, but there’s no sexual relationship between them – it’s purely talking and spending time together. Somehow, in his head, the fact that she’s a Quaker makes it all right.’
For Lesley, who recently starred in the final series of detective drama Scott & Bailey, playing a Quaker was a welcome opportunity to explore a reflective, intriguing way of life.
‘I was in Cornwall, visiting some of the beautiful Quaker houses there, and by complete coincidence I received the phone call about Paranoid – I couldn’t believe it!’
‘Quakerism is one of the roots of our modern concept of mindfulness. It’s about being still and at one with your thoughts, not being hasty or judgemental. It means taking responsibility for the way you act, all of which seems increasingly relevant to the world we’re living in.’
the seemingly straightforward murder case has unexpectedly complex roots, and Bobby is forced to liaise with police in other countries, including Germany.
‘He ends up going out there on his own and then the rest of the team join him,’ says Robert. ‘We’re filming in Cologne and Dusseldorf, and I’ve never been to Germany before, so I’m looking forward to it.
Paranoid is a reunion for
Robert and Lesley, who have been great friends for decades.
‘I love working with Robert,’ she says. ‘He’s an absolutely delightful man, as well as a wonderful actor.’
‘We live about 10 minutes down the road from each other and we’ve been friends for more than 30 years, so it was a real bonus for me that Lesley agreed to be in the show,’ smiles Robert. ‘The last job we did together was Prime Suspect back in the 1990s!
‘We also live near Neil Stuke, who plays my boss in this. He went to drama school with my brother, [Life on Mars star] Phil, and he’s got a farm shop in south London. I buy loads of produce there, until I think, “Hang on a minute,
I’m giving Neil Stuke money!’’’
The last job we did together
was Prime Suspect back in the 1990s
Senior officer leading the investigation. he suffers from panic attacks and
is struggling to cope Lucy cannonbury Lesley Sharp the garden centre owner and Quaker witnesses the murder. there’s an air of
mystery about her alec Wayfield Dino Fetscher the young detective is a good friend to Nina, but also dealing with
his own difficult past
Old pals act: Robert and Lesley in
Indira Varma the capable, no nonsense copper is devastated when her boyfriend breaks up
with her out of the blue the Paranoid cops are out to get the killer, but key witness Lucy has dark secrets of her own Michael niles
Bobby’s boss is very driven, more interested in results than the team’s
personal problems the case seems to be wrapped up, until a ‘ghost detective’ haunts the team