A quick chat with Jamie Bamber

A quick chat with Jamie Bamber
A quick chat with Jamie Bamber (Image credit: UK Press Limited Rights)

Jamie Bamber returns in a new series of the crime drama Law & Order: UK, screening on Thursday, Sept 9 on ITV1 (not STV)... Is it good to be back playing Matt Devlin again? “Yes. Mainly, I look forward to working with Bradley Walsh again. He’s a very funny man and a very different kind of actor to me. He’s fantastic in the show. We’re like a double act and it’s the double-act part of the show that’s the appeal of it for me. We’re not quite good-cop-bad-cop, but it’s that sort of chemistry between these guys as they try to get information out of witnesses and suspects. Matt always pre-judges and sees everything in a black-and-white way, while Bradley’s character, Ronnie, is more measured.” Do we get to know more about Matt’s life away from work? “We have an episode where you get a window into his past and he has to deal with his failure to be a proper friend to someone from his past. As an actor, the chance to get inside the character with a story like that is a real treat. But that’s not what the show is really about. It’s about the stories, not the characters. "It’s a format show and the format is about giving people a moral dilemma, a conundrum to solve – and they get to watch the criminal justice system come to terms with dealing with that. It entertains, challenges, stimulates and provokes and each week is a separate story. You don’t need to have watched the previous week to pick it up. It’s a good format.” Looking through the storylines for this series, the first episode seems to have a lot of echoes of the Jamie Bulger case... “The similarity is deliberate. The cases we pick are the complex ones, the morally ambiguous ones. The best episodes are the ones that draw on something that people will recognise from the news headlines. Law & Order is all about showing people who mess up other people’s lives, and how we as a society cope with them. Drama is there to examine the society in which we live.” Do you think it gives viewers a more informed idea about how the police and CPS work? “Yes and it’s good that it does. As a member of the public, you form your opinions on the police and the Crown Prosecution Service via the headlines – and they are usually negative. The tabloids in particular like to ram down our throats how the CPS has gone soft or how the police are corrupt.” Your next role is in the new BBC sci-fi drama Outcasts, isn’t it? “That’s right. Initially, I wasn’t sure about doing it because I didn’t want to do something so similar to Battlestar Galactica. Battlestar was such an untouchable experience. I didn’t want to sully it with something else that might not live up to it. I play a pioneer on a colonised planet. Earth has gone kaput and there are 50,000 people left trying to make an existence for themselves on a planet far, far away. But he’s also damaged goods – he’s a like bomb waiting to go off.” Have you anything else coming up? “I’m doing my first French language film. It’s a romantic comedy and I play a character loosely based on Andre Agassi. I speak the language and it’s been a dream of mine to work in French for years.”

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.