Martin Freeman on The Responder: ‘Not all policemen are heroes’

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“No one in this is a goody or a baddy,” says Freeman, “but essentially I think he’s a very decent human being. He’s probably been in the job over 20 years and faced with the challenges of that job, always turning up at the worst time in people’s lives, living at night… well, that tends to take some of the shine off your character.”

Carson’s fractured interior life gets the full autopsy in The Responder, which begins with him in therapy and returns there time and again. “Drama without vulnerable characters is very boring because it’s just a lot of cardboard cut-outs of people being heroic,” says Freeman, who sports grey, close-cropped hair and looks utterly knackered throughout the series. “There are [real-life] heroic coppers but the job takes a massive toll on people. Chris is just one of them.”

MyAnna Buring, most recently seen in the excellent The Salisbury Poisonings, plays Carson’s wife, who again gets more screen time than the standard cop show “’er indoors”.

“I’d not read a police drama that felt this different,” she says. “Chris is dealing with PTSD and struggling, but the show also asks, ‘What is happening to the characters around him?’ He’s not the only one going through those mental health issues.”
 

The Responder was filmed in Liverpool, a city that has appeared in all manner of TV productions but generally doubling as somewhere else. Here, the city at night-time could be nowhere else but Liverpool itself. The specific setting comes with consequences though: Freeman is from that Mersey Paradise known as Hampshire. Though he says he has a good ear, this was his first attempt at one of Britain’s most distinctive – and easy to butcher – accents.

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