Ex Casualty star Suzanne Packer is back in uniform. She reveals why playing a powerful Chief Inspector in Welsh drama, Bang, is an eye-opening experience...
When an illegal gun is linked to a series of local crimes, it’s up to Layla and her police team in Port Talbot to track down the owner of the weapon before more blood is shed. However, this opens up a big criminal can of worms and it’s up to experienced copper Layla to keep a lid on unexpected proceedings!
Here's our Suzanne Packer interview
You’re currently starring in SC4’s new thriller, Bang. What can you reveal about your character, Lalya?
"I play Chief Inspector Layla Davis. She’s the police boss and so has all the power and plenty of authority. But with that comes loads of responsibility - she’s very involved with everything that happens in the constabulary and takes on a lot of the stress of that."
You’re probably best known as nurse Tess Bateman in Casualty, is this role a departure from that and how did you prepare?
" I have never played a police officer before so it was very important for me to get some real resources. I actually spoke with a police officer, who’s a PC and has been in the force for quite a while, so knows how the Chief Inspector would run the show."
What did you uncover from your research?
"She told me a lot about her current Chief Inspector – I won’t mention names! – and the first thing she said to me was, ‘I wouldn’t dare speak to her’. So straight away I got a sense of this woman who sounded quite formidable - although I don’t think my character in Bang, Layla, that way."
Is Layla an aloof character?
" I think Layla is a little bit approachable but I can imagine carrying so much weight of authority you might not have time to always talk to the average PC. She has to be on top of all the investigation, the reporting and crime solving."
Very different to the warmth of Tess Bateman in Casualty then! What have you enjoyed most about playing Lalya?
"It’s a lovely character to play - knowing that you have status automatically, so you don’t have to play status. However, the complexity of it is that, for Layla, personally, is she’s under a lot of stress throughout the whole series!"
Do you think you’ve much in common with her?
"I don’t think I’m similar to Layla at all! I have a laugh and honestly can’t see Layla having a good joke and kicking her knees up. I probably prefer to just have more fun in my work and I don’t think I get that stressed but, then, I’m not dealing with life and death so it’s a big difference."
Bang is shot bilingually in Welsh and English. How was that experience for you?
" I don’t actually speak Welsh in the show but I am a learner. Sometimes my cue line to enter a scene was in Welsh so I had to know what was going on. It certainly adds to the richness of it all. It’s very much the Wales I know now, although maybe not when I was growing up. I have friends who will drop into the Welsh language easily within a conversation and then turn straight to speaking English. It’s very reflective of what modern Wales is now, certainly in this part of Wales."
You’ve starred in iconic dramas, including Grange Hill, Brookside, Casualty and Stella. Do you’ve any advice for up-and-coming actors?
"It’s a bit sad, really, but I would always say to a new actor, ‘Make sure you have something else as well as acting’. I think that’s a priority because it’s quite an oversubscribed business and you can find you have a lot of time when you’re not working as an actor. So, find something, if not equally as enjoyable to help you make money, something that’s at least a pretty close second. At the same time I would also say, watch people who are good! You can always be learning. Put yourself into opportunities where you can always keep learning."
Bang is currently showing on Welsh channel SC4. The eight-part series is also available to watch on BBC iPlayer with English subtitles. It stars Jacob Ifan, Chris Reilly and Rob Spragg from Alabama 3.
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With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and www.whattowatch.com 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.