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'The Chelsea Detective' — 'Gavin and Stacey' star Adrian Scarborough on his exciting new role

The Chelsea Detective stars Adrian Scarborough and Sonita Henry.
'The Chelsea Detective' stars Adrian Scarborough and Sonita Henry. (Image credit: Acorn TV)

The Chelsea Detective is a brand new crime drama that stars Adrian Scarborough in the title role. 

Adrian, who has been in a host of TV roles but is best known for playing downtrodden husband Pete Sutcliffe in the hit BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey, stars as Detective Inspector Max Arnold. 

Born and bred in Chelsea, Max and his colleague DC Priya Shamsie (Luther star Sonita Henry) have plenty of crimes to solve in the well-heeled borough of Chelsea crammed with multi-million-pound mansions. 

Here in an exclusive interview, Adrian whose previous drama roles include Sanditon, A Very English Scandal, and comedies Bloods and Plebs, tells us about the intriguing cases coming up, working with fabulous guest stars, and why this is a dream role for him...

How would you describe DI Max Arnold in 'The Chelsea Detective'? 

"He's quite a private individual and he lives on a houseboat on the Thames. Living on the river it's very much his isolated little island world which seems appropriate for him. He's very happy there."

Do we see much of Max's personal life away from work?

"Yes we do. He's going through a messy separation with his wife, Astrid who is played by Anamaria Marinca. 

"Anamaria is so lovely but all we ever got to do on screen was argue with each other which was a shame! We also find out that his father died recently. Max never really had a mum. She left early in his life so it's always been just him and his dad. His father ran a book shop in Chelsea so Max had this upbringing surrounded by dusty libraries of books." 

'The Chelsea Detective' stars Adrian Scarborough and Sonita Henry as Max and Priya.

'The Chelsea Detective' will be four feature-length episodes on Acorn TV. (Image credit: Acorn TV)

'Luther' star Sonita Henry plays Max's colleague DC Priya Shamsie. What are the dynamics like between Priya and Max?

"They make the perfect team. Max is quite subdued in his approach to life and he’s physically quite lazy. Priya is very go get’ em. She’s much more positive although she’s got problems of her own. She’s a new mum and she’s struggling a bit. Davood Ghadami (best known as  EastEndersKush) plays her husband and you see more of their home life as the series goes on."

Did you and Sonita know each other before working on this?

"No we didn't. We had the most extraordinary audition process because we had to do the chemistry reads via Zoom which is not ideal. As soon as we'd been cast I thought it would be a good idea to meet up in person. We ended up going for a socially distanced walk along the Thames Path and got on like a house on fire." 

You've been in so many great TV series and roles. What's important to you when choosing a role?

"I was once given a piece of advice which was, 'Be a Jack of all trades and master of none' and I think that's served me pretty well! 

"You get your kicks in different places, things are always interesting and you're kept engaged. I've been incredibly lucky to work in the number of mediums that I have; film and telly, stage, radio drama and  I do lots of narration and commercials too. It makes for a very interesting life."

An Underground mystery in 'The Chelsea Detective'.

The opening episode sees 'The Chelsea Detective', DI Max Arnold called to investigate a death at South Kensington tube station.  (Image credit: Acorn TV)

What appealed to you most about playing Max in 'The Chelsea Detective'?

"Crime dramas are a well-worn genre but to get the opportunity to play a lead in a detective series, is something of a dream for most character actors. And maybe it's an opportunity to say that you've matured slightly (laughing).

"What I also love about The Chelsea Detective is that they're all 90-minute episodes so you get the opportunity to create a little family from the crew and cast.

"Francis Barber plays Max's eccentric Aunt Olivia who is brilliantly fun. And we have lots of lovely actors across the series including Liz White (Unforgotten), Richard Harrington (Hinterland), Pooky Quesnel (The A Word), Bryony Hannah (Call The Midwife) and Joe Milson (The Last Kingdom) and so many great young actors too."

The pair have cases in the most fashionable parts of west London.

DI Max Arnold and DC Priya Shamsie make a formidable team in 'The Chelsea Detective'.  (Image credit: Acorn TV)

Did you do any research for the role? 

"We spoke to detectives which I found  completely fascinating.  I learned all about the ‘Golden Hour’, that crucial hour after a crime has been committed when you can find out lots of things, the body hasn't had a chance to deteriorate, people can't get too far away from the crime scene. That first hour is critical."

What crimes are we going to see DI Max and DC Priya trying to solve in the four-part series?

"Their first case sees them investigating a mysterious death at South Kensington underground station. A local stonemason has fallen in front of the train but the big question is did he fall, or was he pushed?  

"There's an intriguing case about an Italian restaurant owner who suddenly disappears. That all gets very dark and murky. Episode three is essentially about historical football violence at Chelsea FC and how that has tumbled on into various people's lives and the final case focuses on an International School where one of the teachers is moving to Japan with his family but is found murdered."

What other TV projects have you got coming up in 2022? 

"I've just been shooting the second series of Bloods for Sky with Lucy Punch, Julian Barrett, Samson Kayo, and Jane Horrocks. It's a comedy about a group of paramedics which seems to have gone down well. We finished making ten new episodes just before Christmas 2021. 

"I've also been filming Sanditon again which is made in Bristol, Bloods is shot in South London and then The Chelsea Detective is of course in Chelsea so there has been a lot of bobbing about. I'm very fortunate to be so busy!"

The Chelsea Detective will air on Monday, Feb. 7 2022 with later episodes to follow weekly on Mondays. 

Subscribe on the Acorn TV website or download the Acorn TV app on your favorite device to start your 30-day free trial. You can also get The Chelsea Detective through Acorn TV on Amazon Prime Video (opens in new tab) (for an extra charge).

Tess Lamacraft
Tess Lamacraft

Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and WhattoWatch.com She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.