Darren Boyd (‘Case Sensitive’) interview

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Darren Boyd (Green Wing, Dirk Gently) stars as DC Simon Waterhouse in ITV1’s new two-part drama, Case Sensitive, based on the psychological suspense novel Point Of Rescue by Sophie Hannah.

When Geraldine Bretherick and her 5-year-old daughter Lucy are found dead in the bath of their luxury home, the case divides new DS Charlie Zailer and her DC Simon Waterhouse. Is it murder, suicide or something even more sinister, and how watertight is the alibi of the husband Mark?

Meanwhile, when Sally Thorne, a working mother with a husband and two young children, hears of the deaths, she is shocked and appalled. Months before she’d met Mark Bretherick at a hotel and had a brief but passionate affair with him. Now she feels the need to get in touch with him again to offer her sympathy. Her friend Esther does not think this is very wise.

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In Case Sensitive, Darren has harnessed his usual comic timing to take on a new challenge; playing the socially awkward but instinctual DC Simon Waterhouse…

“I’ve been lucky enough to get recognition for the comedy I’ve done, and as a result I often get seen as a comedy actor. It is a conscious decision for me to try and seek out opportunities to show I have different strings to my bow.

“Simon Waterhouse is a great character to play. He is an interesting male character within the crime thriller genre because from the outset he doesn’t appear to have the attributes and characteristics that we quite often see. He’s quite the social outcast; he doesn’t fit in with the lads at work, he’s been described as humourless, arrogant and nonconformist, and I think he is absolutely all those things.

“Some people in the squad have even nicknamed him ‘Rainman’, which gives you an idea of exactly how he’s viewed by those around him. I think people don’t necessarily understand him and don’t particularly want to because he’s such a self-contained, introverted character.”

DC Simon Waterhouse is paired with DS Charlie Zailer, played by Olivia Williams…

“DS Charlie Zailer is new to the team and very quickly paired up with my character, Simon Waterhouse. Right from the outset we learn Charlie is the type of person who does everything by the book whereas Simon does everything from the gut. I think what makes DC Simon Waterhouse and DS Charlie Zailer fire as characters is this different approach to the job.”

It’s not long before we learn Simon and Charlie have met before. But, as Darren explains, it’s up to the audience to decide on their romantic past, and future…

“When we meet them, we guess something has happened but we don’t exactly know what, or the full extent of it. But Simon seems uncomfortable talking about it, and Charlie seems desperate to clear the air.

“What’s great is it doesn’t set up Simon and Charlie’s relationship as a ‘will-they-wont-they’, it’s more of a ‘have-they-or-haven’t-they’, and ‘if they have, then what are they going to do about it?’” says Darren. “I really like that little twist because it adds an interesting dynamic to their relationship.

“It’s definitely an interesting way to come into the drama. The first couple of scenes really pull the audience right into the two main characters. Those who’ve read the book know they’ve previously spent the night together but in this drama it’s up to the audience to make up their own mind and use their imagination to decide what did or didn’t happen. I think it’s interesting to allude to it and be slightly ambiguous.

“I think Simon really likes Charlie but he’s not quite equipped with the social skills to really communicate that. He also doesn’t want to mess up their professional relationship with anything untoward privately.”

Speaking further about the relationship between the two main protagonists Darren says: “There is also an unavoidable domestic element, which I think offers another layer. It’s great to see their on-going relationship because it adds a genuinely interesting relationship into the mix and the audience can enjoy both this and the police work.

“The way these characters talk to each other, it’s not all generic crime-solving talk, so you actually get the sense that these are real people dealing with a situation. That’s what will really catch people’s eye.

“I hope that at the end of the film the audience has closure on the crime but will ask, what are Simon and Charlie going to do next? Where are they going to go? I think that’s a hook to keep people interested for next time.

In preparation for his role in Case Sensitive, Darren read Sophie Hannah’s novels…

“I’ve read a few of Sophie’s books now, and she’s kindly sent me the new one which is just about to be released. While we were preparing Sophie was amazing. I contacted her quite regularly and was able to ask her a lot of questions about my character. For example, I asked her if Simon could be tee-total because I felt that added to his need to be in control and never to have that control element taken from him.

“I also picked up on a few lines as key trigger points – Simon honestly believes he can do a better job than most. He is described as being arrogant, and he won’t listen to anybody else because he thinks he can do it better than most people. In fact, he’s proven many times over that he actually can.

“Although people don’t get him, he is an exceptional cop so it’s slightly annoying that someone who think’s he’s great at something actually is, and that only further alienates him.

“There was one line in the book which I think balances out his character. He says, ‘when you’re as useless as I am at most things and you discover the one thing that you’re really meant to do, you’re going to do it and not going to let anything stop you.’ I felt there was a real humility and real honesty in that.

“It shows he’s arrogant, he believes he’s the best at everything, but he’s also acknowledging that he isn’t very good at everything else and he’s certainly not as good with people.”