In the Dark
Myanna Buring on playing a cop forced to confront childhood trauma as she probes the disappearance of two girls in her hometown
TUESDAY / BBC1
Last seen in period dress as Long Susan in Ripper Street, Myanna Buring is back in the present day in a chilling new crime drama set in Manchester. Myanna stars as a detective whose personal life is about to implode as she returns to her hometown to help a childhood friend in need. Myanna and Ben Batt, who plays her cop partner, tell us more on page 10.
Myanna Buring sits in her trailer wrapped in a large towel as water drips from her hair. She has been filming a scene in the driving rain, but while Myanna may be soaked to the skin, her enthusiasm for her chilling new BBC1 thriller,
In the Dark, has not been dampened.
The Ripper Street star plays the part of Manchester detective Helen Weeks, who reluctantly returns to her hometown when the boyfriend of her childhood best friend is accused of the kidnap of two young girls.
It’s Myanna’s first leading role in a BBC drama and she’s thrilled with her character.
‘Helen can be so mercurial,’ says Myanna as she dries her hair. ‘That made her feel very real to me. Very often you’re given one or two words to describe a character, but Helen is always shifting. She’s tough, yet also vulnerable, and you never quite know the full story. It felt like a chance to play something I could really get my teeth into and believe.’
And, with that, her co-star Ben Batt (Scott & Bailey) enters and flops down on the sofa with a wry smile that takes in his sodden outfit and the rain that continues to beat upon the roof. ‘Manchester eh?’ he grins, before politely introducing himself. ‘We had snow the other week – in the middle of April!’
Ben plays Helen’s boyfriend, fellow detective Paul Hopwood, yet while he and Myanna have been battling the elements, it’s nothing compared to what their characters have to face in this dark thriller.
Here Myanna, 37, and Ben,
30, tell TV Times more about
the four-part thriller…
How does the series begin? Myanna: Helen is a successful detective who comes from a small town called Polesford. She left 20 years ago to make a name for herself in Manchester. Her mother died when she was young and returning has always seemed too painful. Then suddenly Polesford is splashed all over the news when two young girls disappear. Ben: The man who’s been arrested over the disappearance is the husband of Helen’s best friend from school, Linda. So when Linda finds herself at the centre of a media storm, Helen decides to return to try to help her. Myanna: Helen isn’t assigned to the case, she’s just there to support her friend. But like any good TV detective, she can’t help getting involved, which doesn’t impress DI Tim Cornish [Ashley Walters] who leads the investigation.
Does Paul go with her to Polesford? Ben: In the opening scenes we learn that Helen is pregnant, so Paul won’t let her out of his sight. He knows how difficult it is for Helen to return to her hometown, so he comes along for support. Myanna: As the series goes on we realise why Helen has never returned home before and it’s got nothing to do with the death of her mother… Ben: Helen and her school friend have been keeping a terrible secret for decades and it becomes more difficult for them to conceal it. Paul starts to notice a change in Helen and slowly, he begins to ask questions. Myanna: Nothing is what it seems and it’s quite telling that Paul is far more excited about the pregnancy than Helen is. He thinks he has everything but there are a few surprises in store for both of them.
Have you played a pregnant character before Myanna? Myanna: I have done a few plays where I’ve had to be pregnant but this is the first time for TV. A couple of my pregnant friends have had to endure me asking them all sorts of questions and watching them do things, so I can get the movements right. I’ve even asked a friend to get in and out of a bath for me so I can see what that looks like!
The series is divided into two stories, are they related?
Ben: The first story is set in Polesford, then we follow Helen and Paul back to Manchester, but Helen connects everything. We actually had different directors for each tale. French director Gilles Bannier took charge of the first three episodes and Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen, from Norway, was in charge for the second story. Myanna: They have very different styles – Gilles likes dark details and is constantly trying to throw the audience off the scent, while Ulrik is very interested in the relationship between the characters.
Ben: It was a really fascinating way of working and the two settings couldn’t have been more different. One was a quintessentially English town and the other a cityscape. Both were very British locations, but the European directors added something very different and it feels like a Scandi-noir at times.
Do you think fans of Mark Billingham’s best-selling novels will enjoy this adaptation? Myanna: I read all the books after getting the part of Helen and loved them. The show’s writer, Danny Brocklehurst, has swapped a few of the stories around and Mark has been great with that. He knows that certain things have to evolve so that they work on screen and he just wants the best story to be told.
The weather is terrible today, and we hear you’ve been unlucky over the past few months filming? Ben: We filmed the Polesford story in Marsden, West Yorkshire, and we thought the place was cursed at one point. We had a problem with the generator and then we had sleet in April. The crew were tearing their hair out! You take ages to set up a shot and then the sun comes out! Myanna: The snow in April was crazy. I remember a team of people was desperately sweeping it away so we could finish the scene. The perils of filming in Britain!
We filmed in Marsden and we thought the place was cursed at one point…
DI Helen Weeks
(Myanna Buring) The pregnant detective is determined to find out whether her old friend’s husband is guilty of abducting two young girls
Helen and her childhood friend Linda face the press Helen with boyfriend and fellow detective Paul Hopwood