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A quick chat with The Silence's Douglas Henshall

A quick chat with The Silence's Douglas Henshall
A quick chat with The Silence's Douglas Henshall (Image credit: Company Pictures)

Douglas Henshall talks about his new four-part drama, The Silence (opens in new tab), which premieres on BBC1 on Monday, July 12... What's The Silence about? "Basically, it’s about a young deaf girl, Amelia, suddenly coping with being thrust not only into the hearing world, but also into the dangers of the world in general." Tell us a bit about your character, Jim? "Jim is Amelia's uncle, who's also a homicide detective. He's quite volatile and work-obsessed and not really around for his family. His heart's in the right place; he's principled and tries to do the right thing. But he’s maybe a little bit too confident." But Jim soon finds himself torn between his family and his job, doesn't he? "Yes. Amelia ends up becoming the key eyewitness to a murder. Once we discover who the murderer is, Jim's faced with a moral dilemma. Should he expose one of his own family members for the good of the investigation – a decision that could put her in more danger?" What would you say, is the moral of the story? "Ultimately, it's a murder that brings a family together. And both Jim and Amelia soon realise that family is more important than anything else." What was it like working with Genevieve Barr, the actress who plays Amelia, who is deaf in real life? "I didn’t know Genevieve at all but she's a lovely young woman, who's very brave, very articulate and very talented. She knew her lines, my lines, all the moves we were supposed to make, all the stage direction, absolutely everything. In the first week, I thought, I don't have to worry about you at all, I should just concern myself with my own work!" And the rest of the cast..? "I knew Hugh Bonneville because we'd worked on a wee French film together and I think he acquainted himself as a Scotsman in this drama very well. I knew Gina McKee and Dervla Kirwan from their work." Jim is the second detective you've played after DI John Tolin in ITV1's Collision. Do you like playing cops? "These are the first two detectives that I've played. I think it's possibly just my age; I'm now suddenly at the age where I get to play cops and fathers of teenagers, which is worrying. I'm not necessarily drawn to policemen – but I'm definitely drawn to good writing and The Silence is well-written, well-directed and a nice take on a familiar theme."

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.