Amara Karan on ‘Hope Street’ — 'There's an authenticity to it'

Amara Karan soaking up the scenery in 'Hope Street'.
Amara Karan soaking up the scenery in 'Hope Street'. (Image credit: BBC)

Amara Karan has appeared in an array of TV hits, including  Doctor Who, Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, and The Night Of. In her newest role, the talented actor stars in Hope Street, a fresh new daytime crime series.

Set in the fictional Northern Ireland coastal town of Port Devine, Hope Street introduces English Detective Constable Leila Hussain, who has moved from Nottingham under mysterious circumstances. 

The 10-part series, co-created by Paul Marquess (London Kills) and Susanne Farrell (Sulphur and White), also stars Ciarán McMenamin (Primeval) as Inspector Finn O’Hare, Brid Brennan (Unforgotten) as Finn’s nosey mum Concepta, Des McAleer (Silent Witness) as ex-copper Barry, Kerri Quinn (Coronation Street) as cynical Sergeant Marlene Pettigrew, and Niall Wright (6Degrees) as keen but green PC Callum McCarthy.

Showing weekdays on BBC1 at 2.15pm from Jan. 31, 2022, each episode features standalone investigations, ranging from arson attacks and sheep-stealing to people trafficking and tragic deaths. 

These are combined with the twists and turns of the main characters’ personal lives, particularly Leila’s secret reasons for coming to the region and Finn’s increasingly complicated home life! Leila, the area’s first Muslim officer, quickly realises that this beautiful place is far from a sleepy backwater.

Here Amara Karan, 38, tells us more…

Finn knows Leila's secret...

Finn knows Leila's secret. (Image credit: BBC)

Amara Karan 'Hope Street' Interview: What can you reveal about mystery-woman Leila?

Amara Karan: "Leila has come from Nottingham to Port Devine under mysterious circumstances. You don’t know exactly why she’s there. Inspector Finn O’Hare (Ciarán McMenamin) knows but he’s not saying anything. 

"I would describe her as a confident, cosmopolitan Muslim detective, who is slightly out of her depth in this new environment."

Do the locals warm to her?

AK: "Everyone knows everyone in Port Devine. The locals are a little bit nosey, shall we say! It’s very odd for a detective to suddenly arrive at a small station and do day-to-day policing. It doesn’t make sense, so they’re suspicious of her - and she’s not giving anything away."

The locals give Leila a warm but wary welcome.

The locals give Leila a warm but wary welcome. (Image credit: BBC)

Tell us about the other characters…

AK: "Concepta is Finn’s mum and Leila quickly learns that she knows everyone and has all the answers! Sergeant Marlene Pettigrew is tough and cynical, and gives Leila a very hard time - those scenes are really fun! Barry Pettigrew is ex-police. He drives cabs but is also a priest - so he can marry you and bury you!"

What about Finn - is there any chance of romance between them?

AK: "Finn is a family man, a father of two and the inspector of Port Devine police station, and protecting Leila's secret. 

"There's a will-they/won’t they with them, but you’ll have to wait and see what happens there. It’s one of our best kept secrets!"

Windswept and interested... Attraction fizzles between Finn and Leila in 'Hope Street'

Windswept and interested... attraction fizzles between Finn and Leila in 'Hope Street'. (Image credit: BBC)

What makes 'Hope Street' special?

AK: "There's an authenticity to it. They've got Northern Irish actors, who all use the wonderful local lingo - like ‘bake’ for ‘face.’ 

[Laughing] "I had to learn a whole other language!

"It’s a very progressive crime drama too. Within the warm, lighthearted show, they investigate some very serious issues. You see Leila falling in love with the place and the people."

Did you enjoy filming in Northern Ireland?

AK: "We filmed in breathtaking Donaghadee, Co. Down, which is right on the coast. It’s magical and beautiful - and one of the coldest parts of the United Kingdom! The wind chill factor is just terrifying, but what’s really mad is I got a suntan because it was so sunny! 

"It was a really local project in terms of everyone in the community getting involved. The swimmers in episode one are a local group of swimmers and the Donaghadee Sailing Club was involved with supplying the boats and the stunt work. It was so exciting."

Barry, Concepta and Callum are on Leila's case in 'Hope Street'.

Barry, Concepta and Callum are on Leila's case in 'Hope Street'. (Image credit: BBC)

Would you return for a second series?

AK: "Yes! I spent practically a year on the island of Ireland last year. I filmed for four months on Hope Street and then went straight to Dublin for another four months for AMC’s new science fiction show Moonhaven

"I’ve actually asked my partner, actor Jamie de Courcey, if we could live in Northern Ireland or Ireland. He wants to stay in London because he’s a theatre man, but I’m working on it!"

You used to have a very different career. Was it difficult to make the leap into acting? 

AK: "I went into investment banking after university. It was so boring! After a while I thought ‘I have to give acting a go.’ 

"Taking the plunge was terrifyingly scary. I can’t believe I did it. It’s been a wild, tough ride but there have been amazing highlights. Now that I'm a mother it’s even harder to juggle everything, but Jamie’s so supportive. For Hope Street it was lovely because they were with me. We turned it into a family adventure."

Hope Street's finest. L- R Callum, Marlene, Finn and Leila.

'Hope Street' finest. L- R Callum, Marlene, Finn and Leila.  (Image credit: BBC)

When and where is 'Hope Street' on?

Hope Street begins on BBC1 on Jan. 31, 2022, at 2:15pm. 

It will air every weekday for two weeks, with its last episode showing on Friday, Feb.11. It is also available on BBC iPlayer and BritBox. 

Elaine Reilly
Writer for TV Times, What’s On TV, TV & Satellite Week and What To Watch

With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.


As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast. 

After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.