Jul.15 / 2014

Get To Know ‘The Smoke’s’ Jodie Whittaker

What is it to be a hero in everyday life? What is it to be a man? In this fearless, original eight-part series, vibrant British writer Lucy Kirkwood (Skins, Chimerica) throws out the familiar risk-and-rescue formula of emergency drama to create an authentic and sharply funny depiction of life as an ordinary hero in Britain today.

Filmed against the backdrop of East London’s extraordinarily diverse and colourful landscape, The Smoke stars Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica, Law & Order: UK ) as Kev, a veteran firefighter searching for justice after the most traumatic call-out of his career causes him to question himself, both as a hero and as a man. Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch) plays Trish, Kev’s girlfriend, who is striving to hold on to love and hope against the odds, while Rhashan Stone (Strike Back) is Kev’s best mate Mal, whose loyalty is tested to the extreme.

Find out what lead actor Jodie Whittaker has to say about The Smoke and don’t miss the series premiere on Thursday, July 17 at 10E/7P on M3.

What attracted you to the project?

I’m a huge fan of Lucy Kirkwood’s beautiful writing. She has an acute attention to detail that creates layered, beautiful characters and intense drama. The Smoke is about a very complex group of people and no-one is an obvious good guy or bad guy. It’s more complicated than that. For instance, my character has made decisions she regrets and continues to make mistakes, but she has a lot of strengths too. All too often, female characters are the ‘token bitch’ of a drama, which is so boring. It’s great to play someone with more personality.

How would you describe the dynamics in Trish and Kev’s relationship?

From the first episode, the audience will get so attached to the pair that they’ll need Kev and Trish to be together. We enter The Smoke nine months after an accident that has left Kev with life-changing injuries and they have been through a huge change in their emotional and physical relationship. There is so much heart and love between them and they’re trying to survive in the aftermath of this trauma with contrasting reactions. You’re meeting them at a crucial time.

Have you enjoyed working with Jamie Bamber?

He’s an absolutely lovely person and an amazing actor. He carries the series so well and it’s a big responsibility because he is in almost every scene. A lot of my scenes are very emotional and show Kev’s home life, whereas Jamie has to balance that with playing a firefighter in the thick of it. When there’s a strong male lead like him, you know a show is going to be exciting.

Is the London location important to the feel of the series? As you’ve lived in the city for a long time, do you feel like a Londoner now?

The city setting is really important because London is a melting pot of different types of people. I get really frustrated if someone says they don’t think a character from London would have my voice – I’ve been here 11 years and still have this accent, so it’s an authentic depiction of someone from the capital. People from all over the world call London home, and what’s great
about The Smoke is that it’s a realistic portrayal of firefighters in the capital, because they’re a believable group of people. It represents the London that people know and live in, rather than a tourist’s view.

You’ve starred in some incredible series, including Broadchurch and Marchlands. What makes a great drama?

If something is ambitious and has heart, which are two very different things, and those qualities come together in a way that reaches out to lots of different people, it’s special. If you stick to relatable themes like the human condition and relationships and place them in an intriguing setting, people will be fascinated. Good writing is essential, too, and I think a lot of the time writers don’t get the credit they should. Actors get a lot of pats on the back if a series is good but it’s
come from someone else’s idea. We’re just the lucky ones who get to bring it to life.