“London Kills” won’t miss a beat when the five-episode second season of the bingey British crime drama premieres Monday on Acorn TV.
“One of the best things about it was the way we shot it,” says Hugo Speer, who stars as London-based Detective Inspector David Bradford, whose wife has been missing since the series opener premiered in February. “We were able to do 10 episodes in 11 weeks because it has that whole documentary feel and was achieved by using three handheld cameras and didn’t have big lighting setups.
“That meant we were able to shoot 12-to-13 [script] pages a day, as opposed to the normal two-to-three [pages] a day you get on a normal TV show,” he says. “Rattling through it and being able to do an episode a week is pretty good going … you can pretty seamlessly make all 10 episodes without raising an eyebrow.”
“London Kills,” created by Paul Marquess (“Suspects”) and filmed on location, is the first original series commissioned by Acorn TV, which streams British TV shows in the US. It co-stars Sharon Small as Detective Sergeant Vivienne Cole; Bailey Patrick as Senior Detective Constable Rob Brady; and Tori Allen-Martin as trainee Detective Constable Billie Fitzgerald. Each crime-solving episode is self-contained, save for the narrative thread that continues to weave through Season 2 — the disappearance of Bradford’s wife as his suspicious behavior begins to raise red flags.
‘As an audience member, you want to have your own little theories. It’s a proper whodunit.’
“It’s deliberately formulaic but in a very satisfying way,” says Speer of the series. “It’s giving people exactly what they want. I think it’s quite clever, with the big story arc, the disappearance of my wife, and I think, as an audience member, you want to have your own little theories. It’s a proper whodunit. I think it credits the audience with intellect; they’re encouraged to decide for themselves who it can be.
“Sometimes I found the writing a little heavy-handed,” he says. “Obviously every episode I had to mention that my wife is missing, and one time there was a little too much exposition: ‘As you know, my wife is missing.’ I refused to say that, and we found a way of my saying it that I could believe — and therefore the audience could believe. Sharon [Small] is very good at this; she kind of makes everything sound incredibly natural.”
Speer is familiar with playing police officials. The actor, who appeared on the 1990s Britcom “Men Behaving Badly” with Martin Clunes (star of the British TV crime hit “Manhunt”), has starred since 2010 on the BBC Radio 4 police drama “Stone,” narrated ITV’s “Cops with Cameras” and played local police chief Inspector Valentine on the BBC’s “Father Brown.”
“It’s weird, actually,” he says of playing those roles. “In real life I have had lots of brushes with the law … when I was younger I was a bit of a terror — it was more adventurous stuff, never anything malicious. I’ve either played baddies or goodies and not much in-between.”
He says he’s optimistic that “London Kills” will return for a third season. (It recently began airing on the BBC.)
“I’m kind of assuming that will happen because it’s gone down so well,” he says. “I guess I should never take anything for granted, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t [renew it].
“How we were able to do it and the fact that it’s been so successful stateside and across Europe … I feel that if they didn’t [renew it] it would be a bit remiss of them.”