As Scott & Bailey returns to ITV for a new three-part series on Wednesday (April 13), Suranne Jones reveals how Rachel Bailey's hiding a dark secret...
What has detective Rachel Bailey been up to since we last saw her? And what's her relationship like with DS Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp) when she returns?
"Rachel's been away for a year, working with the Vice team down in London. In that time, Rachel and Janet haven't been in touch that much simply because they've both been busy, so they've got to find their feet with each other again. Scott & Bailey's always been about the love story between these two friends."
What do you mean by that?
"Well, it's just a real relationship. They don't have men in their lives that 'work', yet they work and it's nice. Scott & Bailey has always been about the women, and the actual crime is almost secondary. And it's the same again – there's definitely a heavier focus towards the relationship."
Indeed, Scott & Bailey has always focused on Rachel and Janet's personal lives outside of their work. What can we expect when the three-part series begins this week?
"We find out Rachel's got a secret – let's just say, she's come back having had a really good time in London! Meanwhile, there's a personal trauma for Janet. Because she's been working 24/7, she may have taken her eye off the ball a bit with her family life. Janet's now forced to focus on that."
At work, Rachel's back on Syndicate 9's murder squad as Acting Detective Inspector. How is this new role a challenge for her?
"Rachel comes back with a bit of chip on her shoulder – she thinks she's been out in the big wide world and learned a lot and now she's back working with a team who really know her and how take the mick, so it's hard. She also takes an instant dislike to new recruit DC Anna Ram (played by ex-Holby City actress Jing Lusi) – she doesn't take kindly to her inappropriate banter."
Rachel with a chip on her shoulder… surely not!
"I know – when hasn't she had a chip on her shoulder? She's rude at the best of times and she's got no social skills whatsoever. When we were developing this series, we played with the fact that Rachel had grown up – but it didn't really work!"
This series of Scott & Bailey follows one case all the way through. What can you tell us about it?
"It's a very dark and sinister serial killer case, opening up a disturbing and terrifying world hidden online. Rachel has the skills to lead the case, but it's a massive investigation so, for all her bolshiness, she actually feels very insecure that she can't handle it. It's like they're almost not dealing with real people; everything's playing out on a computer screen and that's the scary thing. There's lots at stake for Rachel."
While making this series, did you learn anything about internet crime that really shocked you?
"Yeah, some of the stuff you agree to on your phone actually gives access to people listening in, who might be recording things or taking personal information. You don't know what you're agreeing to half the time on emails or on updates and you're allowing all kinds of things in. It's scary."
Do you always enjoy reuniting with Lesley for the show?
"Oh yeah! Lesley and I are like a pair of comfy old slippers you can just put on. I always see us coming back in 20 years time, when we're old and grey, and doing a 'Scott & Bailey meets Rosemary and Thyme' type of show. Even at 70, Rachel still won't have grown up – she'll still be drinking and going crazy!"
Finally, congratulations on your Best Drama Performance win for Doctor Foster at the National TV Awards earlier this year…
“Oh, thank you. When I signed up for Doctor Foster, it sounded like a good programme but, when you say it's a drama about a couple and one has an affair, it didn’t sound as exciting as it was. But people really got behind it and I'm delighted we're making another one."
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