Phil Davis (‘Whitechapel’: Series 3) interview

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Starring Phil Davis as Detective Sergeant Ray Miles, crime drama Whitechapel returns to ITV1 for a third series next week.

> Buy Series 2 on DVD on Amazon.

Series 3 Episode 1 airs at 9pm on Monday 30th January on ITV1.

Were you pleased that Whitechapel was commissioned for a third series?

“I love working in Hornsey Town Hall, because I live so close by. So it’s ideal for me, and my family can pop down and see me at work. I like working here and it has a great atmosphere.”

“It was great to be back. We had so much fun doing the last two, and Rupert and I are such old friends that I always enjoy working with him. It was good to get back into the swing of it.”

You’ll be working with Rupert again this year when you join the cast of BBC One’s legal drama Silk, also starring alongside Maxine Peake…

“It will be like old times in chambers with Rupert. [Channel 4’s North Square] was such a great series that ran for ten episodes and was well received by the audience but Channel 4 just didn’t go for it.”

Did the streets of Whitechapel and other East End locations throw up any obstacles?

“Well, it’s always difficult filming in London because there’s a plane every 20 seconds. And because of the gothic atmosphere we create in Whitechapel, it has to be filmed at night. So it’s by no means easy.

“Then throw into the mix the fact that we filmed during the summer so there isn’t a lot of darkness and certainly not like there is in February or March which is when we filmed the first two serials.”

How has Miles’ relationship with Buchan changed much since the first series?

“There is always going to be antagonism between Miles and Buchan and Miles still thinks he’s a waste of space. He’s very sceptical about what he actually adds to the investigation, but that’s part of the fun.

“I mean Miles is one of those characters who wears his heart on his sleeve and if he doesn’t like something then you’ll find out about it.”

Where Chandler appears to have a natural interest in history and in particular the history of Whitechapel, Miles’ interest lies in catching the criminals…

“Miles isn’t convinced that spending time going through ancient cases from the 18th and 19th centuries will be of any use to modern day policing.”

Miles had a tough time in Series 2 suffering from panic attacks brought on by his father’s association with the Krays. What kind of pressure does he experience in Series 3?

“This year Miles is under a lot of strain in his personal life which is to do with his wife’s health which inevitably has an effect on his work. He is incredibly worried about her and with her maternal family history of terminal illness the prognosis doesn’t look good.”

Miles is increasingly frustrated by Chandler’s reluctance to put himself out there and find someone to spend his life with…

“Miles does worry about Chandler’s solitary lifestyle and there is a little bit in the plot where he tries to fix him up with various young ladies but none of them seem to work out for one reason or another.”

How else does the strength of Miles’ affection for Chandler come to the surface?

“Miles gets very angry with Chandler when he does something stupid and risks his life. So strong are Ray’s feelings that it looks for a while as if that might be the end of their friendship.

“When new team member Megan Riley turns up for work it is clear she is a family friend. When Miles’s wife is ill it is Megan who helps him by taking Judy away for the weekend to cheer her up. It is a good thing to get to know the characters a bit more and to get to know them outside of the context of the crimes.

“Riley is a great role for me and it’s interesting to have a girl as a main character. It was a very male environment with the last lot and so all that changes things, and Hannah Walters plays it very well indeed.

“It’s a close-knit team this year and they do seem to have a sort of autonomy, I mean this is a murder squad, so they’re not dealing with the normal run of the mill cases.”

The cases featured in this series are all pretty gruesome in one-way or another but do you remember one more than any other?

“I think all the cases affect all the policemen deep down; it must have a sort of cumulative physiological effect. But you develop a thick skin and these are the guys who have to deal with this stuff, just as policemen in real life have to deal with this. It must have some kind of effect on them.

“I think the key is being able to turn off when they go home – that’s what Miles can do, and that’s what Chandler can’t do. Because he’s got no personal life, no home life, and so I think Miles’s relationship with his wife and his family is all the more important because the work is so difficult.”

> Buy Series 2 on DVD on Amazon.

Watch the trailer…

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