What attracted you to Traces?
Not only is it a brand-new idea and story, it's brand-new to Alibi and that was exciting for me. I wanted to show we're committed to these channels, the channels we watch and for them now to be producing and employing is very exciting. To be part of that is one of the reasons, definitely. The other reason is that the show is set in Dundee. I was surprised when I saw that because it's very unusual. You don't often see the city of Dundee or its people represented on TV and I was brought up close to Dundee. That actually stood out and I thought wow, that's exciting.
Can you tell us a bit about your character Neil?
Neil McKinven is a time-served policeman and what's good about this guy is he's a good person. He's not inhuman, he's human, he has little flaws like everybody else, but actually he cares, he cares about human feelings. Whether he's working on a new case or an old case, he feels a responsibility to be able to assist somebody to find peace. I think he's not twisted in anyway, he doesn't have any other motives, it's just that he does his job by the book, but he does it in a nice way. He's not an aggressive policeman, he's not prone to violence, none of that stuff and that helps him massively in his function.
When you were sent the scripts, what grabbed your attention the most?
Val McDermid, Amelia Bullmore, female directors, female producers, I totally support fair play. In my experience, the best jobs I've been on are the jobs that have been run like this, with women. Everything about it is very well thought through from its inception and I am very honoured to be part of that. I think it's a very powerful set-up for guys like myself and Martin. I should also mention the great female characters. The quality of the idea, the concept, then the scripts themselves. Amelia's done an unbelievable job. I'm very grateful to be part of it.
What have you enjoyed most about filming?
It probably sounds a bit corny and clichéd, but it's the whole ambience of the job. The crew are terrific, they're very tight, very loyal, the cast are amazing and of course for me, it's been great because I get to make contact with really old friends, friends I haven't seen for 20-odd years because this is obviously set in Scotland, so there's quite a high contingent of Scottish cast. It's great to catch up with people you haven't seen for a while, and new people too. The whole thing has been very, very easy. They run a really, really nice ship. Some days, it feels like a weirdly holistic experience, it's so laid-back. I think the overall experience, there's nothing specific for me, it's all been terrific, and I think that's probably to do with the people running it and RED Productions themselves.
What makes Traces different to other crime dramas?
It's neither a Line Of Duty, police procedural, and it's neither Silent Witness. You're basically following the two functions. It's somewhere else. This is much more challenging, certainly for me. You know very little about these people's personal lives. They're forensic chemists and police, you have to try and glean something about them through their job. The audience has to do a bit of the work, which is what they want to do anyway. I think it's different because we're talking about dealing with civilian specialists, not police specialists, who are from outside and work with the police, and it brings a very different way of looking at a case, the process of finding and gathering information and evidence. It's looking at it from a very different perspective.
Why are people so enthusiastic about crime drama?
Generally speaking, the population of the world are good people so there's a fascination with people who go wrong or do extreme crimes against other people. We have a fascination with that and we want to know why. I think people are obsessed with the idea of the hunt. We like the idea of the quest, of finding out why somebody did something, it's why people are so obsessed with shows like, dare I say it, Making Of A Murderer. People want to see the process. This drama will do that for them because you see behind the scenes, the stuff you would never see normally, exactly how you go about piecing together and finding evidence and the lengths they'll go to and the intricacies and all that stuff. Audiences love that. It's the thrill of the hunt and in the end, they want to see justice served. I think it's human nature, we want justice all the time.
Can you describe Traces in one sentence?
It's a new, unique experience in a crime drama. It's not the expected way to catch a killer. It's uniquely different because they're using different people with different skills to achieve it.