A Town Called Malice has as its backdrop the Costa del Sol in southern Spain, complete with a banging 1980s soundtrack and endless romance, violence and high camp, so there promises to be a lot to like for those of us old enough to remember those heady days.
A Town Called Malice of course takes it title from the early 1980s hit song by The Jam (Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton) - see the bottom of this feature for more. Strongly driven by music, A Town Called Malice’s beating heart is the sound of the 1980s. It has been created by acclaimed director Nick Love and follows the Lords, a crime family from South London who are furious that they’ve fallen to the bottom of the criminal food chain. They’re hoping a move to Spain will allow them to reinvent themselves and re-capture their former glory but some very large obstacles end up getting in the way.
It has a great cast too, including Jason Flemyng, Martha Plimpton, Jack Rowan, Tahirah Sharif and Dougray Scott. So here's our guide to everything you need to know about A Town Called Malice on Sky Max...
A Town Called Malice release date
A Town Called Malice is an eight-part drama that launches on Sky Max and NOW in the UK on Thursday March 16 at 9pm. It will also be available as a box set on Sky Box Sets. So make sure you grab your legwarmers and a pina colada and enjoy the 1980s ride!
We will update with news on a US and international channel and release date in due course. NBCUniversal Global Distribution will handle international sales of the series on behalf of Sky Studios.
Is there a trailer for A Town Called Malice?
Yes there's A Town Called Malice official trailer plus teaser trailer released by Sky. They feature all the 1980s headiness and plenty of criminal activity to take in, set to a big tune of the era (I Just) Died in Your Arms by Cutting Crew. Take a look at below below...
A Town Called Malice plot
In A Town Called Malice, The Lords are definitely past their criminal heydays but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel nostalgic for their glory years. Gene Lord (Jack Rowan), the youngest of the clan, in particular feels he’s overlooked and neglected by his family who fail to recognise his intelligence and killer instincts. After narrowly surviving a gangland battle, Gene and his formidable girlfriend Cindy (Tahirah Sharif) flee to the Costa del Sol, Spain to evade arrest and find themselves embroiled in the local underworld, desperately trying to avoid trouble. Things heat up even further when the rest of the Lords join them on the Costa del Sol and try to reclaim their halcyon day as criminal top dogs. However, this does not go down well with Gene and Cindy, who have a very different plan...
A Town Called Malice cast — who's starring
There's a great cast for A Town Called Malice. The Lord family is headed up by Jason Flemyng (Save Me, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) as Albert Lord, Jack Rowan (Born to Kill, Peaky Blinders, Noughts and Crosses) as Gene Lord, Tahirah Sharif (The Haunting of Bly Manor) joins as Cindy Carter, who is Gene’s girlfriend, and Martha Plimpton (Mass, The Good Wife) who plays Mint Ma.
They'll be joined by wider family members including Dougray Scott (Desperate Housewives, Ever After, Mission: Impossible 2) as Uncle Tony. Also look out for Lex Shrapnel (Captain America) as Leonard Lord, Daniel Sharman (Fear the Walking Dead, Medici) as Kelly Lord, George Jaques (The Third Day: Autumn) as Anthony Lord and Eliza Butterworth (The Last Kingdom) as Carly Lord.
Interview: Jack Rowan on playing Gene Lord
Gene Lord is the young man from a notorious crime family played by Jack Rowan. Fearsome patriarch Albert Lord and his three sons were once big players in South London and are keen to regain their position as top dogs, yet youngest sibling Gene never seemed to fit into their organisation. However his life changes forever when he meets Cindy Carter and after narrowly surviving a gangland battle in which a police officer is killed, the couple are forced to flee to the Costa Del Sol.
"Cindy works behind a bar and it’s lust at first sight between them,’ Jack Rowan told us. "‘But their love takes them places for sure and as the story goes on they become this Bonnie and Clyde type couple, who really have each other’s backs. They take us into a really sexy world driven by fashion, driven by music and driven by tribe.’
With no extradition treaty between Spain and the UK, the Costa Del Sol seems like the perfect hideaway, especially as Gene’s Uncle Tony, who’s purportedly ‘caked’ in cash, lives there. However in reality the only thing of value Tony has to his name is a strip of land and the dream of building a luxury hotel. Aware that they risk being sent to jail for murder if they return home, Gene and Cindy realise that if they’re to survive on the Costa, they’ll need to get their hands dirty and carve out their own place in the sun.
"Gene is a good guy and an honourable guy," explains Jack. "But he’s still got those Lord family genes - if you’ll pardon the pun - and the further the story goes, the more sides you see to him. He uses his head rather than his fists, but he goes on a really interesting journey, which as an actor is probably the best I’ve played in my career."
After earning a BAFTA nomination for his breakthrough role for his portrayal of a psychopath in Born to Kill and playing a young gypsy boxer who’s dragged into the Shelby crime family in Peaky Blinders, Jack is no stranger to complex parts.
"All my favourite films and TV shows are built around imperfect people," he says. "Gene and Cindy do some terrible things, but they’re such detailed and realistic characters that hopefully the audience will warm to them. When I’m watching shows like this I find myself making excuses for them and then when they do something bad it hits that little bit harder."
One thing that certainly leaves its mark is a soundtrack rich in Duran Duran, The Jam, INXS, Blondie, The Human League and many more, which will transport viewers back into an era like no other.
"The script was so musically driven,’ explains Jack. ‘There were actually songs mentioned in the very first drafts I read, so the creator Nick Love had a vision for when this song or that song would be playing. I missed out on the 80s myself as I was too young, but I started putting a playlist together to get myself in the mindset and it started with five songs. It’s now five hours!"
That playlist proved useful during the five month shoot in Tenerife, which saw a cast of stars including Dougray Scott, Jason Flemying and Martha Plimpton taking on roles in the cockney crime family. Yet one of the most memorable cameos in the whole series comes in the opening scenes and eagle-eyed viewers will be able to spot the modfather himself Paul Weller propping up a South London bar.
"The show’s name is obviously inspired by The Jam song A Town Called Malice," Jack explains. "I think he knows the show’s creator Nick Love and to see him appearing in the show is like an extra bit of validation. He’s approved of the name and he wants to be a part of it. I wasn’t there when he filmed his cameo though, so unfortunately I didn’t get to meet him. I was gutted!"
Tahirah Sharif on playing Cindy
What attracted you to A Town Called Malice?
Tahirah says: "When I read the script, I was hooked straight away. It was so well written and so punchy, exciting and powerful. What I loved about it so much was the fact that this world is hyperreal and colourful with loud characters and music. But what really drew me to it was the fact that, despite that, the characters are really grounded in reality. Even though the world is colourful and loud, the characters are always relatable. I honestly hadn’t read anything like it ever. It was just incredibly exciting. It was a no-brainer to say yes to it."
What makes Nick so special as a writer?
Tahirah says: "The relatability of his characters. You really get his personality through his writing. Even in the descriptions, it’s still so Nick. It’s not like he’s trying to write a novel with fancy words. He’s just saying it how he would say it in real life, warts and all and rough or raw, and I just really related to that. You don’t usually get scripts like that. I’m very South London, and so it just got me immediately. I could hear these people already and had a good idea of who they were. I heard Nick throughout the entire script."
As you come from South London, did the characters really ring true for you?
Tahirah says: "Definitely. Obviously, I wasn’t 30 years old in the 80s. But I’ve got my family - my mum, aunties, uncles - who were about that age in the 80s. Just looking at photos of my family at that time in Brixton, South London, it was great to be able to recreate that world. Doing it authentically was so fulfilling - and definitely relatable as well because that’s where I’ve been born and bred."
Can you outline Cindy for us?
Tahirah says: "First of all, I just love her so much. Obviously, she has a very cutthroat side. But I hope everyone loves her because it’s been such an actual dream to play her. How would I describe her? She’s everything. She’s a badass, but she is also extremely vulnerable and has been through really traumatic events. They have shaped her into the woman we meet in A Town Called Malice."
What drives her?
Tahirah says: "Like everyone, she’s searching for love. She’s searching for a family that she hasn’t had and finds that with Gene and will do anything for him. Cindy’s the kind of person who’s extremely loyal. Once you have her loyalty and her love, she will do absolutely anything for you and anything to keep that. Rightly or wrongly, she will hold on so tight. But also, don’t mess with Cindy! As Tahirah, I’m really petite, so obviously Cindy’s really petite, too. But don’t underestimate her due to her size because she will definitely put you in your place!"
Martha Plimpton on playing Mint Ma
What appealed to you about A Town Called Malice?
Martha says: "Pretty much everything appealed to me about it! I loved the idea of playing a B-list gangster matriarch in the 80s, and I loved even more the idea of playing a woman from her part of the world, from South London, but also a traveller. Then when I read the script, I just thought that this character wasn’t like anyone I’d ever played before. I loved the idea of her grounded-ness, but also her deep, deep loyalty to her family and to her husband. I just loved the idea of working with Nick as well. This cast is so brilliant, too. And, of course, filming in the Canary Islands was not a turn off! It was all extremely exciting to me.
What is Mint Ma’s backstory?
Martha says: "She met Albert when they were children. He was this teenage street tough in Bermondsey when he met Mint Ma - we came up with this private name for her. And he basically rescued her. He pulled her out of that level of poverty and probably illiteracy, and he showed her a different world. That’s where her fealty towards him and towards their family came from. They probably hit some pretty good times early on. But when we meet them, they’ve slid backwards, and maybe her husband isn’t quite as smart or as strategic as she wished he’d be. But she’s not going to argue with him too much, although she will push him and she will prod him. But I don’t want to give too much away!
How did you find it working with Jason?
Martha says: "I just love him. We’ve all seen him in a million different things. He’s such a great actor that one hopes he’ll be as lovely as a man. And he just exceeded all of my expectations in every way. He’s absolutely glorious and sublime. He is one of the most wonderful, joyful, kind and sweet men you will ever know in your life. He was jolly and hilarious and full of fabulous stories. He’s funny, funny, funny as well. He also happens to be really good at playing the heavy. In fact, there’s something about men like Jason; the actors who play the best bad guys are the guys who are the sweetest you could ever meet.
You and Jason Statham have great chemistry on screen, don’t you?
Martha says: "I hope so. The very first time we met, I sensed he and I would make a really good pair. I just felt like he was a warm and welcoming and very easy guy to work with on so many levels. He really knows his stuff, and he really knows how to pull a big dramatic moment out of thin air. That’s a wonderful thing about him, and I would say about a lot of British actors, too. It’s just there’s not a whole lot of nonsense. They just know how to do it. It doesn’t take all this sturm und drang. You can be laughing hilariously one minute, and then feeling yourself well up with tears the next. I just love that about him, and I love that about the entire cast. It pretty much goes for everyone on the show.
What was it like collaborating with Nick Love?
Martha reveals: "He is a wonderful leader. He is so incredibly supportive and so incredibly encouraging. He knows exactly what he wants, but he also is ready and willing to be surprised if you do things in a way that he might not have thought of or expected. And so one does not feel at all micromanaged by him, but in very capable hands. I think that is a skill all the best directors, writers and producers have. They have that ability to let you know that they will not fail you. They know what they are doing, but you are welcome to create this person for yourself and can bring your own thing. I just love that about Nick. He’s also from the world that he writes about in this show. And so he’s not only a great writer, but he’s a terrific resource. He’s just lovely. And, of course, he’s hilarious.
How do you hope that audiences will respond to A Town Called Malice?
Martha says: "I truly hope that it will excite them. I also hope that it makes them feel like we did back then when we would watch Dallas every week and gather around the television, breathlessly waiting for the next horrible thing that Sue Ellen would do. I also hope that they are surprised by the performances. Tahirah and Jack are fantastic. I hope that viewers are truly invested in their story as well because it’s such a weird and crazy romance they have. Above all, I hope that they can’t wait to see the next episode."
Jason Flemyng on playing Albert Lord
Why were you so taken by A Town Called Malice?
Jason says: "It’s another gig at Sky, which is great. I’m trying to rack them up! But I’d always really, really wanted to work with Nick. It was weird because when we did all those Guy Ritchie movies, it seemed like you were either in one camp or the other. There weren’t many people who managed to do both. And so I thought I had missed the boat. But enough time has passed for Nick to look at me not just as a part of the Guy Ritchie team. I was really chuffed.
Did you enjoy working with this gifted young cast?
Jason says: "Definitely. We had a great time with a really great young cast. It’s funny now to become a veteran in the business and to have lots of young actors around that I love. I find that a very enriching thing to be surrounded by brilliant young talent.
How would you describe Albert Lord?
Jason reveals: "He’s a misogynistic, racist beggar. What are his good qualities? He makes a good salad! That’s an endearing quality. I’m not sure how many of his lines are going to make it through the edit, but some of his dialogue is so outrageous. But Albert is entertaining and wild in a very carefree, Neanderthal kind of way. It’s really good fun to play that. It’s great fun to go on Pride marches in my personal life, and then when you go work, you come out with all this nonsense! That’s the joy of being an actor; you can take on these other characters.
Talk us through Albert’s relationship with his wife Mint Ma....
Jason explains: "When you’re 16 to 25, you split up with people every six months. But the things that in my life I’m most proud of are obviously having my kids and my relationship with my missus. It has gone through the mill and a procession of highs and lows, but I’m really proud of that resilience. I love that about being monogamous. For Mint Ma and Albert, it’s the same. It’s literally 'for better or for worse'. Unfortunately, being married to Albert, there’s a lot of 'worse'!"
How did you find it working with Martha Plimpton?
Jason says: "She was a revelation. When they said they were going to cast Martha Plimpton as my gangster moll wife, I said, “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. That’s a dreadful idea.” But of course, she nicked every scene; she was perfect. She’s a much more studied actor than I am, she’s really into the craft. But what’s amazing about her is that she is literally selfless. For her, everything’s about the scene. Everything’s about the message that we’re trying to get across. And I love that. There was no politics, not one minute of upset, and that’s really rare during five months away from home. Tenerife is amazing, but it’s not home. And, as Coriolanus said, there’s a world elsewhere that goes on when you’re filming, and it’s difficult sometimes to deal with both at the same time. But Martha never let anything affect her. She’s a proper pro, and I loved every second of working with her."
A Town Like Malice episode guide
Here's our episode guide for A Town Called Malice. Each episode is named after a hit song from the 1970s or 1980s....
I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS
Gene Lord is youngest son of a South London criminal family. He and his fearless fiancée, Cindy, are forced to flee 1980s London for Spain. On the Costa del Sol, Gene’s Uncle Tony has a get-rich plan, but it's a dangerous undertaking as gangland enemies are intent on stopping them. Can Cindy and Gene survive the violence?
Cindy leads Gene on a mission to evade police suspicion and reminds him of the potential in Tony’s land. But can they keep their dream secret from the Lords, who arrive in Spain and have questions they want answered?
Kelly does Mint Ma’s secret bidding back in London. Meanwhile, sparks fly when the Lords parlay with the local Gitano community in a bid to get their support for the hotel plans.
LET'S GO ALL THE WAY
Gene and Cindy exercise their smarts to unify warring factions, but the arrival of a face from Cindy’s past creates tremors between them – can she hang on to the man she loves?
Gene’s mettle is tested during business negotiations in Morocco, Albert tests Mint Ma’s patience and Cindy is forced to take drastic action to protect Eddie.
I'M STILL STANDING
Cindy alienates Eddie, Kelly loses control and Albert’s battle for power threatens to leave Gene’s dreams of a bright new future in tatters.
The Lords are at their lowest ebb, and the game might be up for Cindy. Meanwhile, Albert is back on the rise – but for how long?
LIVING ON A PRAYER
Albert seems to be an unstoppable force, stopping short of nothing to reclaim his former glory – who dares stand in his way and curb his reign of terror?
A Town Called Malice creator Nick Love
Nick Love is best known as the creator of the 2004 movie The Football Factory which starred current EastEnders favorite Danny Dyer. The film was about a bored Chelsea football hooligan.
Other Nick Love films have included The Business (also with Danny Dyer) and Goodbye Charlie Bright (Paul Nicholls, Danny Dyer, Nicola Stapleton). Love also wrote and directed the 2012 version of The Sweeney, which starred Ray Winstone, Plan B and Hayley Atwell.
Nick is also known for American Hero and the TV series Bulletproof, with Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters.
"I’m over excited and hugely grateful to Sky for supporting my vision once again," says Nick Love. "I've lived and breathed Malice for the past few years, and for it finally to come to fruition, is a dream come true. What an amazing cast. I'm so lucky to finally be working with some of my favourite actors and childhood heroes. I couldn’t be more excited to see how they bring the Lord family to life.”
Gabriel Silver, Director of Commissioning, at Sky Studios, adds: "If Dallas and Pulp Fiction created a love child to the strains of Duran Duran, it would be A Town Called Malice, an intoxicating cocktail of 1980s romance, avarice and violence, served up with pineapple chunks and an umbrella. Brought to life so brilliantly by Nick Love’s scripts, audiences will be taken back to the vivid world of the Costa Del Sol in its pomp, with a glorious take on the soundtrack of the era."
All about The Jam's hit song A Town Called Malice
A Town Called Malice takes its name from the famous song by the Jam, which became No1 in Britain in February 1982 and stayed there for three weeks. A Town Called Malice was the only Jam song to chart in the US where it reached No 31 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in 1982.
The title was a play on the name of the 1950 Nevil Shute novel A Town Like Alice, although singer-songwriter Paul Weller said he hadn’t read it at the time. He wrote the lyrics about his hometown of Woking and is still regarded as a classic. Take a look at The Jam singing A Town Like Malice below...
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.