When it comes to actress Gemma Whelan, you never know what to expect. She first made her name as Yara Greyjoy, the steely warrior and leader in smash hit Game Of Thrones. In The Moorside she put in a brilliant performance as Karen Matthews, who was ultimately proved to be behind the disappearance of her daughter Shannon.
Next, she donned a bonnet to play Marian Lister, the disapproving sister of Suranne Jones' strident character in Gentleman Jack. And Then she added to an impressive CV with a turn as Geraldine, the daughter of spy boss Fiona Shaw in one of the most talked about dramas of the last few years, Killing Eve.
But Gemma Whelan's latest series sees her take centre stage as DS Sarah Collins – an “everyday detective” in ITV's gripping new three part drama The Tower, airing Monday to Wednesday this week.
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Sarah and her team are called upon to investigate an incident at Portland Tower, after a veteran cop and a teenage girl have fallen to their deaths from the top of a block of flats in south London.
Left alive on the roof are rookie police officer Lizzie Adama (Tahirah Sharif) and a five-year-old boy. When Lizzie disappears, Sarah must track her down to learn the truth behind the deaths.
Joining Sarah in her hunt is her partner DC Steve Bradshaw (Kate and Koji's Jimmy Akingbola) and DI Kieran Shaw (former Hollyoaks favourite Emmett J Scanlan).
Here talented Gemma, 40, sheds some light on the drama and why she's thrilled to be taking the lead.
Hi, Gemma! How does Sarah react when she gets the call to go to Portland Tower?
Nothing like this has ever happened on her watch before, so this is a shock. We find her on an average day and then things change quite dramatically.
How would you contrast Sarah and Lizzie’s moral compasses?
Lizzie is influenced by her heart too much and Sarah is more head. Lizzie makes a decision that leads to some terrible consequences.
Did you learn about leading a show from working with Suranne Jones on Gentleman Jack?
Yes. She’s got so much dialogue to learn on Gentleman Jack. When I was learning all the lines for The Tower, I thought of how hard she works. If you are supposedly the lead, you don’t want to turn up stumbling.
Writer and executive producer Patrick Harbinson rates you, along with Homeland actress Claire Danes, as the very best he’s worked with…
Oh, wow, that’s very, very nice. That makes me a bit emotional!
ALSO ON THE CASE…
Jimmy Akingbola plays DC Steve Bradshaw
“Steve is very sharp, he’s very smart and he sees everything. He’s got a great relationship with Sarah. They’ve both had to overcome things to get where they are and that brings them together.”
Emmett J. Scanlan plays DI Kieran Shaw
“He is in no way a sociopath, but he doesn’t allow damage to affect him. It’s not his job to be sad, to be angry, to be outraged, to even have an opinion on anything. For him to have an opinion is almost self-indulgent. His only job is to catch the bad guy by any means.”
For more TV gossip and what to watch, sign up to OK! newsletters here. The Tower runs from Mon-Wed on ITV at 9pm and will be available on the ITV hub.
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