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Marcella - Series 2 Production Notes Print
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 21:41

Critically acclaimed drama Marcella starring award winning Anna Friel returns to ITV for a second series

Anna Friel as DS Marcella Backland


Original multi layered ITV crime drama series Marcella, written by internationally renowned screenwriter and novelist Hans Rosenfeldt (The Bridge) and starring International Emmy award winning Anna Friel (The Girlfriend Experience, Broken, American Odyssey) returns to ITV.


Check out the production notes with character biographies and interview with Anna Friel below!




Marcella - Series 2 Production Notes

by ITV Press Centre



Anna Friel as Marcella Backland

Critically acclaimed drama Marcella starring award winning Anna Friel returns to ITV for a second series


Original multi layered ITV crime drama series Marcella, written by internationally renowned screenwriter and novelist Hans Rosenfeldt (The Bridge) and starring International Emmy award winning Anna Friel (The Girlfriend Experience, Broken, American Odyssey) returns to ITV.


Returning alongside Anna Friel as the lead Marcella, in the highly praised drama are Ray Panthaki (One Crazy Thing), Nicholas Pinnock (Fortitude, Guerrilla), Jamie Bamber (Fearless, NCIS) and Jack Doolan (White Gold). New cast members are also welcomed; Nigel Planer (Episodes, Comic Strip Presents, The Young Ones), Keith Allen (Eddie The Eagle, My Mad Fat Diary), Sophia Brown (Beauty & The Beast, Clique, Disobedience), Peter Sullivan (Cuffs, Critical, The Borgias), Jason Hughes (Three Girls, Midsomer Murders), Victoria Smurfit (Once Upon A Time, Trial & Retribution, The Beach), Yolanda Kettle (The Crown, Love Nina, Josh Herdman (Harry Potter) and Harriet Cains (Line of Duty, Safe House).


Anna Friel commented: "I’m thrilled to be reprising the role of Marcella and want to thank ITV for recommissioning this powerful London based noir drama. The reaction from everyone has been amazing, although the real question I keep being asked is whether the parka will be making an appearance in series two as well?"


The eight-part series is once again set in contemporary London and the new series unfolds in the unique style of Rosenfeldt’s Nordic style. Interweaving storylines and characters from all different walks of life and backgrounds will lead the audiences on a complex and emotional journey and keep them guessing until the very end.


The story begins with the discovery of a body inside a wall. The body is clothed in a school blazer and surrounded by soft toys; a devastated Marcella soon works out that the body is that of schoolboy Leo Priestley, who was abducted a few years beforehand and a friend of Marcella’s son, Edward.


A task-force is quickly pulled together by newly promoted DCI, Tim and we are introduced to a new member of the team, LeAnn. As the investigation progresses, we’re introduced to a number of new characters – a former famous musician Reg and his manager and friend Alan; edgy businessman Vince Whitman and his charity boss wife Maya; a previously convicted criminal Phil Dawkins; sister and brother Gail and Eric; and Becky, the new girlfriend of Marcella’s ex-husband.


Whilst the storylines entwine, Marcella is still battling with her ongoing sporadic fugue states which she struggles to come to terms with and is getting increasingly worried about the effects it is having on her and her family around her.


The first series of Marcella won many fans, achieved rave reviews and sent social media into meltdown when it aired on ITV in 2016. The launch episode was the series best performer with 8 million viewers and a 29% share of viewing. The series average of 6.8 million viewers (25% share) firmly placed Marcella as one of ITV’s top rated dramas last year.


Marcella has been re-commissioned by Polly Hill, Head of Drama and the production will be overseen for ITV by Senior Commissioner Victoria Fea.


Marcella is executive produced by Hans Rosenfeldt, Nicola Larder and Buccaneer Media’s founder Tony Wood who created the joint venture production company in partnership with global entertainment company, Cineflix Media. Annie Harrison Baxter (In The Flesh, The Secret of Crickley Hall, Wild at Heart) has produced the series and Chris Ballantyne (Broadchurch, Born To Kill, The Level) has also co-produced the drama.




Hans Rosenfeldt, writer and co-creator


It’s been almost two years since the first episode of Marcella aired on ITV. April 4th 2016... I thought we did a pretty good job the first time around. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one. So, we’re back.
Marcella series two.


Two years is a long time these days when it comes to television. We live in a world where the audience want immediate satisfaction. “I liked it, I want more”. Patience is so 2007... Many thought that we would be back in 2017, but I had to finish writing the last series of The Bridge before being able to devote myself 100% to Marcella again, so here we are.

I’m glad and thankful that we are. I had so much fun with series one. It was the first show I created in another language, outside Sweden. I really enjoyed working with everyone involved, I gained a lot of new experiences and made new friends. So of course, I was hoping that we would be allowed to continue.


I have been fortunate enough to work on a couple of series that got renewed. The challenge is always the same: Keep enough from the previous season, or seasons, so that the audience recognises the show. You need to give them more of what they liked the last time, but without repeating yourself too much.


So, when we went to Morzine in the French Alps to storyline for the new season, what did we know we wanted to keep? Well, we knew that Marcella, our heroine – so magnificently portrayed by the talented Anna Friel – should be the centre around which everything else should revolve.


Unlike last time, we sat down to write a storyline. We knew Marcella Backland now. We had spent eight intense hours together with her on screen and many, many more in the writers’ room. It is always easier to write the scripts if you know who’s going to play the part and even more so if you’ve seen them doing it. So, we didn’t have to create her, but we wanted to know her better, show new sides of her. How to do that?


In the first series Marcella thought she might have done something horrible to Grace Gibson, her  husband’s mistress. She investigated herself. It was even in the tag line: “Detective. Witness. Suspect”. That had worked extremely well for us, but to put her in that rather extreme situation again was obviously something we couldn’t do.


What to do instead?


Marcella is a show that is just as much about Marcella being Marcella as it is about her being a police officer. So, it works best when the case she is working on is connected to her personal life in some way. This time we created a case where her family – her son Edward, more specifically – is involved. The first victim found is a friend of his who disappeared four years ago.


Something else we knew we wanted to keep as a part of the series DNA was telling the story by multiplot. A lot of characters, not all of them immediately connected to the main story or main characters, but eventually ending up there. That’s what I like to do, and it worked well for us last time. But we scaled back a bit on the number of characters this time. 46 minutes aren’t that many and with Marcella, her family, her team and all the other characters, there are a lot of stories to tell.


The team, yes, we made some changes there as well. Five people working with and around Marcella plus Tim Williamson in the same building – as I said, we only have 46 minutes every week. So, Tim became Marcella’s new boss (Remember: work + personal life = good) and we gave her a new partner, Leann Hunter, to create new situations for Marcella and change the team dynamics.


And then, of course, we had Marcella’s fugues – her blackouts – to deal with. Early in the process we decided that this would be the season where we focused more on the reasons behind the fugues, than the actual blackouts playing a vital part in the plot. We force her to dig deeper, to find the reason behind them – the trigger event. So, in a way she is investigating herself for a second time...


Oh, and then we needed the crime of course. The motor of our show. And with that the hooks, the twists and the red herrings. This time it’s about child murders. In London. 
So, after quite a few days together story - lining, we had most of what we needed to start to write series two. We kept what we think is the essence of the show: An exciting, intriguing, fascinating lead character solving a complicated serial killer case in the heart of contemporary London.


The only reason to make another series of something is that you think you can do it better than the last time. I can honestly say that Marcella 2 is better than series one. I think so, anyway. Soon we will know what the audience think. I’m looking forward to it.




Character Biographies


DS Marcella Backland (Anna Friel)

Marcella’s an unflinching and unrelenting detective in her hunt for the child killer. Driven by her maternal instincts, she’s willing to push boundaries in her pursuit of the killer whatever the emotional and relational collateral damage may be. Marcella has an innate recklessness; she knows not where conformity lies. She's justice - driven - even if in its pursuit, she risks damaging herself and those around her.


DI Rav Sangha (Ray Panthaki)

Rav is the straightforward, straight - talking lead detective on Marcella’s team. He's been passed over for the role of DCI in favour of Tim, a decision that causes some underlying resentment. The fact that this case revolves around the murder of children only increases Rav’s determination to solve it. As a father, he's sickened sometimes to the point of being overwhelmed by the hardest case of his career.


DCI Tim Williamson (Jamie Bamber)

Tim is now DCI of Marcella’s team. They’re in a casual relationship but neither Tim nor Marcella interrogate their feelings towards it but both seem content with what they give each other. But the social climber in Tim is also the chairman of the board of a charity, The Whitman Foundation.


DC LeAnn Hunter (Sophia Brown)

A new DC on Rav’s team, brought over from Tim’s previous unit. She’s spiky, with knowledge of London and perhaps reminds Tim of who Marcella was when she first joined the team. There’s antagonism between LeAnn and Marcella, driven by the fact that they’re both detectives who aren’t afraid to step on toes in their lines of investigation.


Jason Backland (Nicholas Pinnock)

Marcella’s ex-husband and father to her children. At the start of the series Jason’s life has settled and his new fiancée Becky, whom he met during his rehabilitation following the events of the last series, brings stability and a new-found purpose.


Becky Marani (Yolanda Kettle)

Although much younger than her fiancée, Becky’s found happiness with Jason and takes responsibility to look after his children. Her life plans involve having a family and her relationship with Jason is the first step. She’s capable of being pleasant and kind, but also has a different side to her which pushes Marcella’s buttons.


Vince Whitman (Jason Hughes)

Vince is a working class self - made businessman; building his gift emporium Red Cow Gifts into a multi-million-pound company. He’s unperturbed by PR troubles or the smears against his own reputation as long as he’s still making a profit.

His marriage to Maya Whitman suffers from this self centeredness. Ever since they married, Vince knew that he was the underdog in their relationship and he’s always having to fight to prove to himself and everyone else that he’s good enough for her.


Maya Whitman (Victoria Smurfit)

Vince’s wife – she oozes style and a composed charisma compared to her husband’s working man persona. When they first met, Maya was out of Vince’s league but his determination, his everyman attitude and his capacity to treat everyone equally attracted her to him.

She in the founder of The Whitman Foundation – a charity with the specific goal of helping children who find themselves deprived or in danger. It’s been her life’s work, perhaps a substitute for the child the couple never had. The charity has a social conscience intent on helping children through their child/young family orientated food banks, call centres and refuge centres.


Reg Reynolds (Nigel Planer)

A former drummer in the 70’s band, Swiss Coast. He’s had a hedonistic past with the successful band. The band were near the top of the charts in the 70s and had a mini revival in the 80s but nowadays there more or less forgotten.

In the present, Reg is older and in poor health, using his long - time friend and the band’s manager Alan as a crutch to walk through life.  But when the body of an 9-year-old is discovered in his flat, the secrets and guilt from the past begin to haunt him.


Alan Summers (Keith Allen)

Alan Summers (Keith Allen) Swiss Coast’s manager. He’s suave, successful and has been a guardian for Reg as his health has deteriorated. He navigated the band through turbulent times in their career and their personal lives. As a result, he knows all of Reg’s secrets.


Nina (Amy Dawson)

Phil’s partner. She’s young and impressionable, a woman who’s making a point of going against the accepted norms as a way of trying to prove herself to the world. Nowhere is this clearer than with her relationship with Phil. She knows that society judges him for his past and knows that society will judge her for her relationship with him. She believes he has changed and she’s willing to be part of a couple that will prove everyone wrong.



Cast interviews


Anna Friel plays DS Marcella Backland


Can you explain to us where we find Marcella at the start of the second series?

We join the second series a few months on from where the first series ended.  Marcella seems to be slightly more settled in the sense that she hasn’t had a fugue for a while but of course, in the world of Marcella, her security doesn’t last very long and she’s back off down the road of uncertainty and unsettlement.


How is the relationship with Jason and her children at the beginning of the series?

It’s not great to be honest. She’s really struggling with them and trying to make amends. 
Jason has moved in with his new girlfriend Becky who is a lot younger than Marcella, it’s a big slam to her ego.  The children are staying with Jason and that’s really upsetting.  When it comes down to it, they have chosen him over her and that’s a massive kick in the guts.


Do you think viewers can relate to Marcella as a person and indeed the series?

I think the first series was, and indeed the second series is very relevant and prevalent and touches on issues that are very much in the public domain.


I do think women are feeling very empowered at the moment and having a woman who is dealing with a mental illness, whilst working, being a single mum and trying to keep everything afloat is very relatable at the moment.


I am so proud of the show and thankfully the viewers in the UK and around the world seem to also really love it.  I think people love the element of being frightened and made to jump.  It’s not just a thriller, because it’s so much more than that.


I think this series pushes the boundaries even more... and it had too.  A second series can’t just be as good as the first, it needs to be better and take it to the next level and I really believe with this new series that we have done that.  I hope the viewers agree!

Is it difficult to recapture the character of Marcella, after having not played her for a year or so?

As soon as the fringe was cut back in and my hair was pulled back into the ponytail, I was like ‘ooohshe’s back’.


It wasn’t difficult but you do have to put yourself into a dark space to play her.  I do remember one day coming into work and it was really sunny, I remember thinking ‘Oh I’m so happy with this’ but had to quickly forget my mood and get into the mind space of Marcella.  


Has it been lovely working with the same cast again and also introducing new members to the Marcella family?


It’s been so lovely to introduce new cast members and equally lovely to see Jamie, Ray and Nicholas again.

What was really lovely this time was that the writer, Hans Rosenfeldt was able to be on set more during this series. It was nice to be able to talk to him about specific scenes or how and why he envisaged Marcella reacting in a certain way.


We saw Marcella battle with her fugues in the first series. How does that develop in the second series?

We start off in the first episode and Marcella seems to be okay, but she does have a fugue for the first time in months and it completely throws her as she thought she was over them.


The fugues get progressively worse and they are terrifying her.  Some people know what it is like to have a hangover and think back to the evening before and think ‘Oh no, what did I say? What did I do?’. Now times that by about twenty and you are somewhere in the region of what Marcella is feeling following a fugue.


Does Marcella do anything this series to tackle the fugues?

There is a strong scene in the first episode where she says ‘ I’m not well. I do need help’. She’s pushed to make this decision because of the fugue she has, which puts her in a very difficult situation personally.  She uses that fear to drive her and to tackle the issue head on.  It’s very difficult for her.


In the first series the viewers were left wondering what caused Marcella’s fugues, but during second series they might get to find out why.

To play a woman like Marcella is an amazing opportunity for me.  It’s a study of a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown whilst holding down a really full on job.  She seems to be holding it together on the outside but on the inside, she’s a mess.


Do you think a lot of people can relate to that?  Some people can go to work and think ‘I actually find work easier than I do being at home’.

Absolutely. We’re not in the day and age where most women (and not just women) have children and stay at home to look after them.  There’s a lot of pressure for people to juggle a job, a home life, be healthy, look good, be good at your work and generally be a good person.


I think her work keeps her focused and centred, it almost makes her feel calm and it gives her something to focus and concentrate on.  It seems to be the only place where she feels she can do good and be of use.


There seems to be a rise in tortured, female detectives on TV at the moment? For example, Stella Gibson in The Fall, Kima Greggs in The Wire, Ellie Miller in Broadchurch and of course Marcella. Why do you think that is?

If you look at the Pride of Britain Awards in 2017 it was a female detective who was awarded for solving the most crimes. I think we’re in an age where people want to watch strong and clever women. These characters show that there are other factors involved in being a strong and successful detective; it’s not just a women being portrayed in a perfect light - they are human, flawed, real and relatable.

Can you explain any particular themes that run through this series of Marcella?

The series focuses on family values and parenting amongst others. Marcella has thoughts on whether she deserves to be a mother or not, she seems to try her best but maybe that’s not enough.  The series concentrates a lot on the home life and the fact that Marcella seems to be incredibly lonely.  She’s really had to deal with some serious events that have occurred in the past, which has led to her the situation she is in now.


In one of the episodes Marcella says to Jason ‘What did I do to make you hate me so much?’ Does the second series reveal more of their history?

In this series there is no redemption for Jason.  This series is really interesting as it dares to let the audience answer their own questions rather than spoon-fed it to them. Audiences shouldn’t be underestimated.


Marcella isn’t exactly the easiest person to live with but Jason isn’t all sweetness and light either.  Love is a very strange thing and you can’t choose whom you love and it’s not easy to just stop loving someone if they’ve done something to hurt you.


For whatever reason I think, she looks back at the time when she was happy and was in love with him and when she gave up her career to look after the children and be with Jason. As badly as he has behaved, I think that love is still there but of course, we’ll have to wait and see how that goes.


A lot of the scenes in Marcella are very emotional and exhausting.  How does that leave you at the end of the day?

I wish I could say that it doesn’t leave its mark, but it does.  I know I’m so lucky to play this role and I’m definitely not complaining but it’s a tough one because you have to let your mind and body go to where Marcella is otherwise it wouldn’t come across on screen.


The camera sees what you’re thinking and your thoughts have to be of the character you portray.  Of course you don’t have to have done what the character has done but you do have to imagine how they would feel and act.


There are so many reasons to watch Marcella, not just for the fear and thriller elements but it will hopefully make you feel a lot better about your own life!


We must talk about Marcella’s coat in the first series. It took on a life of its own!

The coat sold out following its appearance, which was such a nice form of flattery!


In this series we are in another season. Last time we started off in the deepest winter, so the coat was reflective of that. In series two we start off in summer and we finished filming in late autumn. You never know though, the coat might make an appearance!


Marcella is wearing a new coat this series and it’s designed by someone called Joshua Kane. He designed it specifically for Marcella and it’s actually based on a 1910 design.  It really fits in with her style; we wanted the coat to be a statement piece without it being a statement piece, maybe like something she just found in her wardrobe that was her grandfathers or something like that. 


I call Marcella the dark knight. I think her style really reflects her emotions.  When you’ve been emotionally hurt sometimes you just throw some clothes on and don’t spend so much time on what you look like.  She dresses for herself and no one else.  She’s a little bit androgynous, a bit urban, and she is very much her own person. It’s exhausting for people to go to work and think how stylish you look.


Our costume designer Yves Barre is so clever with textures. For instance, he’d put tweeds with tartans. It’s all about the combination that just gives it texture and depth and pops of colour.


Early on in the series, Marcella finds herself again wanting to pursue a character against the wishes of her boss. Why do you think she finds it so difficult to take instruction?


Hans has made this a repeating offence with Marcella, because I did ask the question ‘didn’t she do this before?’


Hans explained that Marcella did indeed do this in the first series but that’s what people do, because they keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  It’s true, once Marcella gets an idea in her head she just storms ahead with it without thinking it through - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.


The themes of the last few series you have worked on have been quite dark and taxing. Do you feel like working on a comedy soon??

I don’t fear away from controversial topics. I like things with a powerful medium and if that’s the way we can get a message across and it tell s a story, even if it is fictional or a drama, I tend to go for those things.  

Saying that, if a wonderful romcom, a musical or something uplifting would be offered to me I would happily accept.

I seem to keep being offered these dark, tortured, characters! My next job isn’t as dark though and I’m really looking forward to working on it.


So what is next for you?

I’m working on a new drama mini - series called Butterfly, which is for ITV, I’m becoming an ITV girl! I’m co-producing the drama with Nicola Shindler and we will be tackling transgender issues.

Butterfly will follow the story of an 11-year-old boy called Max who makes the huge decision that he wants to live life as a girl.  He has always dressed as one at home but now he doesn’t want to hide who he is.  I’ll be playing his mum, Vicky.  It’s a wonderful, beautiful and emotional story written by Tony Marchant.

And I might try and fit in another holiday with my daughter!