Ice-cool and in con­trol, Dsi stella Gib­son is back.

It’s the last dance for de­tec­tive Stella Gib­son and se­rial killer Paul Spec­tor in chill­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller The Fall. Crime Scene talks Se­ries 3, star cast­ing and cliffhang­ers with the show’s creator, Al­lan Cu­bitt.

Crime Scene - - CONTENTS - By AN­DRE PAINE

“Gib­son is my hero, she’s my lead­ing char­ac­ter, the heart of the drama,” Al­lan Cu­bitt tells Crime Scene. “The way I kind of con­ceived of the show was by mak­ing it the op­po­site of a who­dunit. By iden­ti­fy­ing the an­tag­o­nist right from the be­gin­ning, it meant that there was a sort of dance go­ing on be­tween them even be­fore they meet, be­cause I was di­vid­ing my screen time fairly 50-50 be­tween them. So his pres­ence in the drama has al­ways been in­cred­i­bly cen­tral and im­por­tant.”

The Fall’s creator/writer/ di­rec­tor is de­scrib­ing the process of de­vis­ing his psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­ce­dural thriller for BBC Two. The land­mark se­ries about a se­nior fe­male cop hunt­ing a se­rial killer who turns the tables, the hunter be­com­ing the hunted, is a rat­ings hit and has a global fol­low­ing on Net­flix.

DSI Stella Gib­son (Gillian An­der­son) and Paul Spec­tor (Jamie Dor­nan) are one of the great TV pair­ings, though they don’t share any screen time for the first 10 hours. Yet there was a creepy prox­im­ity – a near meet­ing in a cor­ri­dor, a tele­phone call that con­cluded Se­ries 1, and a scene in which Gib­son was feet away from her quarry – so that their first elec­tri­fy­ing con­fronta­tion was loaded with shared his­tory.

When Crime Scene speaks to Cu­bitt ahead of Se­ries 3, he’s un­der­stand­ably pro­tec­tive about his story. “At the mo­ment, I’m try­ing not to give away whether Spec­tor lives or dies at the end of Sea­son 2, so it’s a tricky one,” he says. “I’d love for peo­ple to be un­sure what’s go­ing to

hap­pen.” How­ever, the BBC has re­leased new images of Spec­tor that sug­gest the in-de­mand Dor­nan’s film­ing in­volved more than a death scene and a few flash­backs. Spec­tor lives, at least that much is clear.

In a sea­son the BBC de­scribes as an “end game” and “last act” for this screen pair­ing, it’s clear Cu­bitt can go deeper into these com­plex char­ac­ters for the con­clu­sion to this case. “That’s what I’ve at­tempted to do in Se­ries 3 – to ex­plore their psy­chol­ogy more,” he says. Spec­tor’s past started to un­fold in the pre­vi­ous se­ries as it emerged that his mother com­mit­ted sui­cide and he grew up in a chil­dren’s home, where some boys were preyed upon by a pae­dophile priest. His fan­tasy life be­came in­creas­ingly dis­turb­ing, though he man­aged to raise a fam­ily and forge a ca­reer as – iron­i­cally for a killer – a be­reave­ment coun­sel­lor.


It seems this se­ries will in­volve go­ing deeper into Spec­tor’s mind, per­haps with the help of sev­eral new cast mem­bers, in­clud­ing Ai­dan Mcardle, Ruth Bradley, Ais­ling Bea, Richard Coyle and Kurt Wal­lan­der him­self – or rather the much loved ac­tor from the Swedish ver­sion of the show. “We have the fan­tas­tic Kris­ter Hen­riks­son mak­ing an ap­pear­ance, which was a real hon­our. He’s a won­der­ful man, a won­der­ful ac­tor,” says Cu­bitt. “It was not for Nordic Noir rea­sons, it was just be­cause we thought he was right for the part. I don’t think he’s done any­thing else like this be­fore, so it’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see what peo­ple make of him.”

While more has been re­vealed about Spec­tor, the ice-cool Gib­son is al­most as much of a mystery as when she first ar­rived in Belfast from London’s Metropoli­tan Police to re­view the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. There have been glimpses into her psy­che as she makes en­tries in her dream diary, as well as the rev­e­la­tion that she has a sex­ual his­tory with her boss in North­ern Ire­land, As­sis­tant Chief Constable Jim Burns (John Lynch). “He has an al­co­hol prob­lem, he’s com­pro­mised and his big­gest flaw is his over­rid­ing ob­ses­sion for Stella, which he can’t see past or see around,” Lynch tells Crime Scene.

Gib­son, per­haps like An­der­son her­self, does have a be­guil­ing qual­ity – and she’s steely with it. A jour­nal­ist who con­fronts Gib­son in her ho­tel in the first ever episode is calmly sent pack­ing. “My con­cep­tion of her char­ac­ter was that she wouldn’t come with a lot of bag­gage, you would have to piece that to­gether lit­tle by lit­tle,” ex­plains Cu­bitt. “My thing was al­ways to make sure that she was enig­matic, in­scrutable and com­plex. I think she’s a sort of god­dess to me, re­ally.”

It’s a spell­bind­ing, less-is-more per­for­mance from An­der­son, who slowly re­veals the char­ac­ter of Gib­son: she’s sex­u­ally con­fi­dent, sup­port­ive of ju­nior fe­male col­league Dani Fer­ring­ton (Ni­amh Mcgrady) and a ded­i­cated de­tec­tive who sleeps on a camp bed in her of­fice at the in­ves­ti­ga­tion’s most in­tense pe­riod. “By the end of the sec­ond sea­son you don’t know whether she’s got a fam­ily,” adds Cu­bitt. “It would not be very Fall -like for her to go back some­where, open the door and her hus­band and chil­dren are there. You get the idea that she’s a loner, and she has to be a loner to do what she does. She’s so ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing the vul­ner­a­ble, and putting paid to Spec­tor’s heinous ac­tions, that you feel as though there’s not any­thing else in her life. I think there’s still a way to go to un­cover more about her.”

Cu­bitt al­ways wanted to bring back both char­ac­ters for the third sea­son, but that was a chal­lenge since the North­ern Ir­ish ac­tor’s ca­reer went strato­spheric with Fifty Shades Of Grey. He’s cur­rently star­ring in An­thro­poid along­side Cil­lian Murphy. Hav­ing orig­i­nally cast Dor­nan when the ac­tor was largely un­known, Cu­bitt was faced with try­ing to ac­com­mo­date the sched­ules of two big stars for Se­ries 3. The solution was to in­ten­sively film all Spec­tor’s scenes by the mid-way point of the shoot – al­ready a “tougher shoot” be­cause it was win­ter – to al­low Dor­nan to head to Vancouver for Fifty Shades Darker.

“Jamie’s ca­reer has changed so dra­mat­i­cally,” says Cu­bitt. “He was, as ev­ery­one ac­knowl­edged at the time, a risky piece of cast­ing. I was con­vinced the mo­ment I saw him that he was a re­ally su­perb ac­tor and a great Spec­tor as well, and I’d like to think that’s been borne out by what he’s done – and by what you’re about to see as well.”

Dor­nan was ca­pa­ble of in­hab­it­ing the twisted fan­tasy world of Spec­tor as well as por­tray­ing a killer who’s phys­i­cally strong – a gen­uinely threat­en­ing pres­ence as he prowls his vic­tims’ homes in a bal­a­clava. Cru­cially, though, Dor­nan com­bines se­ri­ously creepy with Spec­tor’s other side: car­ing fa­ther. As well as giv­ing his young daugh­ter one of his kill tro­phies (a neck­lace), he’s the psy­chopath hid­ing in plain sight, stalk­ing one woman dur­ing a fam­ily out­ing to Belfast’s Botanic Gar­dens. “Even a mul­ti­ple mur­derer can have his share of good qual­i­ties – or a pretty face,” as Gib­son muses early in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

While root­ing for Gib­son, we’re also com­pelled by Spec­tor; Dor­nan has even sug­gested the au­di­ence has to be on his side to a cer­tain ex­tent. “One of the key things that hap­pened in the au­di­tion was we tried peo­ple talk­ing to their son when he comes home, and a lot of peo­ple couldn’t hide their sense that the man was a mon­ster,” says Cu­bitt. “Whereas Jamie was im­me­di­ately so com­pletely plau­si­ble in that mo­ment – even though he’s ma­nip­u­lat­ing his child and ly­ing to that child, he man­aged to do it in a way that made you think peo­ple on the re­ceiv­ing end of his psy­cho­pathic ut­ter­ances would be­lieve him.”

Cu­bitt re­veals that he ini­tially brought Dor­nan in to read for the part of James Ol­son (the cop who has a one-night stand with Gib­son) but soon re­alised he had found his Spec­tor. “I was look­ing for some­one I thought could share the screen equally with Gillian and that’s a re­ally tall or­der, be­cause of her gifts as an ac­tress, be­cause she’s so incredible on cam­era,” says Cu­bitt. “Ul­ti­mately, you want the cast­ing to feel as though it couldn’t be any­body else, in the way that with James Gan­dolfini no one else could be Tony So­prano. That’s how I feel about Jamie and Spec­tor: the part could not be played bet­ter by any­one else.”

Even a mul­ti­ple mur­derer can have good qual­i­ties


Dor­nan is a na­tive of North­ern Ire­land, a set­ting that feels just as right for The Fall as its lead ac­tors. When Burns meets Gib­son from her flight, she notes the ar­moured car (“Wel­come to Belfast,” he says) and learns that the first vic­tim has connections to a prom­i­nent Union­ist fam­ily. Like Gib­son and Spec­tor, Belfast is a key char­ac­ter in The Fall – and the show draws on lo­cal tal­ent for its crew and cast. “I’m a Catholic who grew up in North­ern Ire­land, and I’m As­sis­tant Chief Constable of the North­ern Ir­ish police force, which would never have hap­pened 30 years ago,” says Lynch.

The lo­ca­tion al­lows Cu­bitt to cre­ate a multi-lay­ered drama fea­tur­ing char­ac­ters from dif­fer­ent worlds, from the sec­tar­ian thug James Tyler (Brian Mil­li­gan) to police of­fi­cers haunted by the bad old days. “It cer­tainly in­forms cer­tain of the older char­ac­ters par­tic­u­larly, so it’s part of my con­cep­tion of Jim Burns that he’s been through a great deal that has had a ma­jor im­pact on him,” adds Cu­bitt. “When you talk to peo­ple – cer­tainly peo­ple who

po­liced dur­ing the Trou­bles – then you do re­alise that they’ve lived through a lot, as in­deed have lots of peo­ple of the right age out here. So that sort of dark­ness in the back­ground seems to work well for The Fall – it adds a di­men­sion to the drama.”

Gib­son may bris­tle at Spec­tor’s sug­ges­tion that they are alike, but they are both out­siders – in her case a cop from London who’s placed un­der in­tense scru­tiny in Belfast. The sex­ual in­trigue sur­round­ing Gib­son, as well as the shock­ing as­saults on women, pro­voked claims of misog­yny and sex­ism from some quar­ters. “I was dis­ap­pointed by some of the re­ac­tions just be­cause I con­tex­tu­alised what hap­pened so care­fully, I didn’t think there could be any doubt that it was fun­da­men­tally a fem­i­nist piece,” says Cu­bitt. “Ob­vi­ously, it was al­ways go­ing to be trans­gres­sive and chal­leng­ing. Be­cause you’re in­vited to spend so much time with Spec­tor, it’s re­ally dis­turb­ing. I didn’t know how dis­turb­ing it would be when I started.” The Fall’s creator stresses that he is “very squeamish” about vi­o­lence against women in TV drama and in­sists his show is “full of hu­man­ity” in its por­trayal of vic­tims. “I could name any num­ber of shows that start with a dead vic­tim, of­ten fe­male as it hap­pens, about whom you know noth­ing,” he says. “But I was at pains to do some­thing dif­fer­ent, and to try to bring the char­ac­ter of Sarah Kay alive for the au­di­ence.” It’s also worth not­ing that the body count in The Fall is lower than in many crime shows – and more of those bod­ies are ac­tu­ally male. “What’s one more man to you… Let men per­ish,” as Spec­tor says to Stella. The Fall is also un­usual for ex­tend­ing its sin­is­ter sto­ry­line over three sea­sons. “Hope­fully the au­di­ence will still have an ap­petite for it,” says Cu­bitt. Judg­ing by the an­tic­i­pa­tion for Se­ries 3, he can be con­fi­dent of an­other rat­ings hit. There are in­trigu­ing in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ments too. “The French are try­ing to get a ver­sion of The Fall off the ground. I met with Vir­ginie Brac, who’s a very ex­pe­ri­enced writer, one of the Spi­ral writ­ers,” he re­veals.

Be­fore helm­ing his own se­ries, Cu­bitt wrote for Prime Sus­pect (“Gib­son doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve like Jane Ten­ni­son”) and worked on adap­ta­tions rang­ing from Martina Cole’s The Run­away to Sher­lock Holmes. “I en­joyed do­ing The Hound Of The Baskervilles, but I think I’m in a po­si­tion where I can prob­a­bly ei­ther do more of The Fall or a new idea,” he says.

So what about a fourth sea­son of The Fall – or even a film? “I don’t have a story that I want to tell this minute, but I’m think­ing all the time,” says Cu­bitt. “I think the na­ture of the story will dic­tate the form it takes. I’m fas­ci­nated by her as a char­ac­ter. But you know, I’m push­ing Gib­son to the edge, so I wouldn’t want to say that she’s still stand­ing by the end of this sea­son.” As they look for­ward to Se­ries 3, per­haps The Fall’s fans should pre­pare them­selves for an­other cliffhanger. The Fall se­ries 3 airs on BBC Two in Sep­tem­ber.

I didn’t know how dis­turb­ing it would be

Does Paul Spec­tor (Jamie Dor­nan) re­turn in Se­ries 3? This promo shot sug­gests... maybe.

Will we learn more about icy Dsi stella Gib­son (Gillian An­der­son) in Se­ries 3?

John Lynch plays Gib­son’s trou­bled boss.

Dsi stella Gib­son: fem­i­nist role model or just plain scary?

Dor­nan: shades of grey in­deed...

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