COVER story New cop drama is on The Level
On the set of a busy police headquarters in west London, TV Times has taken over an interrogation room and is preparing to grill its prime suspect.
We’ve had a tip-off that
ITV’S new six-part thriller, The Level, features a manipulative, compromised cop. And while an ex-eastender and a Downton Abbey favourite are among those under suspicion, we’re confident Karla Crome is our woman.
‘I play DS Nancy Devlin, who works for the [fictional] National Crime Division [NCD] in London,’ reveals former Misfits star Karla, 27. ‘When she’s sent to investigate a murder case in her home town of Brighton, Nancy’s forced to face demons from her past and areas of her life collide in an unwanted way.’
The fiercely independent cop, who has an honourable career that she’ll do anything to protect, is secretly protecting drugs trafficker Frank Le Saux (Ashes to Ashes star Philip Glenister).
‘She had a volatile upbringing,’ Karla explains. ‘Her parents were in an abusive relationship and she found a father figure in Frank, who’s the dad of her childhood best friend, Hayley [Laura Haddock]. He was someone who could always protect her, so she has a huge amount of loyalty to him.’
But when the cop’s misguided feelings lead to murder, she desperately tries to cover her tracks. Will she finally be exposed?
‘Nancy is sly in terms of how she handles legal processes. She’s also smart about her
allegiances and changes, depending on who’s around.
‘We see a sweet, innocent Nancy when she’s with Hayley, whereas she’s guarded with her colleagues.’
She’s particularly defensive with her new partner, DS Gunner Martin (former Doctor Who star Noel Clarke).
‘They’re like chalk and cheese, but their relationship changes throughout the series,’ reveals Noel, 40. ‘Everyone is under suspicion with Gunner, though. He doesn’t care if you’re a criminal or a corrupt cop; once he’s on the scent, he goes for it. He’s the edgiest in the team.’
And he isn’t happy when the NCD’S DS Kevin O’dowd (former Corrie and Downton Abbey star
Rob James-collier) is also seconded to the seaside town.
‘O’dowd and Nancy have history and he sees Gunner as a threat,’ says Rob, 39. ‘There’s rivalry going on.
‘O’dowd has an affection for Nancy and wants to look after her, so he watches over her more than a normal colleague would. He knows there’s something going on and tries to dive in, but it’s murky waters.’
Rob is joined by fellow former soap star Lindsey Coulson, aka Eastenders’ Carol Jackson, who plays Nancy’s boss, DCI Michelle Newman.
‘Michelle is authoritative and confident. I’m a bit bossy myself, so it works!’ admits Lindsey, 56.
‘It’s interesting because I’ve found that the more you stride around with that air of power, the more
powerful you feel. I probably shouldn’t be a policewoman because that power would slightly corrupt me!’
But it seems Karla, who drew inspiration for Nancy from the poise of The Killing’s jumper-loving Sarah Lund, was born to play a detective.
‘I’m really into this genre and this is the type of show that I would watch.
‘The director didn’t want us to know who the killer was, so I didn’t find out until halfway through.
I didn’t want to know, really, but I guessed right! ‘I suppose it’s because I was so closely involved with it that
I was asking specific questions. Plus, I was interviewing the cast, even when the cameras stopped rolling, to try to work it out!’
Childhood ties unravel when ds devlin (Karla Crome) investigates a case linked to Frank Le Saux (Philip Glenister)
Noel Clarke and Lindsey Coulson are a force to
be reckoned with the level is previewed on pages 82-83