Ridley: Meet Adrian Dunbar
How would you describe your character in Ridley?
Ridley is a troubled ex-detective who has had a brilliant career, but when we first meet him, he has recently re-entered the workforce as a consultant where he used to work. He’s gone through horrific pain and heartbreak following the recent death of his wife and daughter, which has made him quite retrospective with lots of regrets but also has immense drive to succeed in his newly appointed role at work.
When it comes to his work he’s quite instinctive – when he gets a gut feeling and dives in. He’s like a terrier, and he won’t let things go once he gets a feeling about it. He’s driven on instinct and most of the time he’s right.
He’s also both discreet and private with ‘old-fashioned’ manners, but he can be impatient and irascible with people who waste his time, or with those who don’t match up to his exacting standards. He has a tendency to wear his heart on his sleeve, and this can sometimes lead to him becoming too emotionally involved in his cases. This empathy with both the victims, and perpetrators of crime, gives Ridley a rare insight into the psychology of murder.
How did you prepare for the role?
I’ve spent many years playing a cop and so I do think I have some good instincts now – if someone was to say to me, “Right, do a real case,” I’d probably know all the right questions to ask, and I’d probably be a lot sharper than most people. However, that’s only because I’ve done all these shows for years. I don’t quite know whether I’m that kind of person myself!
In what ways do you relate to your character and if not, does the character have any characteristics you wish you had?
I admire his intelligence, tenacity and determination but he’s very complicated in many ways, quite a distance away from anything I’ve played before, even though it’s me, it looks like me, and there’s obviously echoes of Ted Hastings (from Line of Duty) because he’s a cop.
What were some of your favorite memories from filming?
I absolutely loved filming in Manchester. There were some really interesting areas that we went to, and some beautiful places as well. We filmed in the winter, so it was cold, and it was bleak. But all those things will add to the atmosphere of the piece.
What was the biggest challenge of filming?
Ridley is a complicated character, which I think was the main thing that attracted me to him but also which proved a challenge! There are so many interesting layers to his personality, so many things in his background, his history, especially with all the different places that he goes to and the different things he has to deal with- so Ridley was a challenging but exciting role to take on.
What was it like working with such a wonderful cast of people?
The series had an excellent team both in front of and behind the camera- I was thrilled to return to work with Jonathan Fisher, Ridley’s producer, who I had previously worked with on Blood. The cast were also brilliant but special mention should go to Bronagh Waugh who plays my partner DI Carol Farman. I didn’t know her when we started working together and it was important to both of us at the start not to try and make too many decisions about how we were going to be as a pair and let that all happen organically as we did the scenes. We were both on the same page about this and so I think our natural chemistry translates well on screen – I loved working with Bronagh and we had a fantastic time.
Without giving too much away, what is one scene or moment you look forward to people seeing?
I’m really proud of the musical element in the series. I love jazz and really wanted to do something with music in it, so I suggested that Ridley owned a jazz club. I did some research regarding jazz and the north of England and came across Richard Hawley, who I didn’t know, and started listening to his songs. Subsequently, we contacted Richard and we found three of his songs that we really liked and that suited the character. And so we went and recorded them and fitted them into the show and I think it’s an element that really works. I also wanted a place within the show every week that you’d go to that was a bit warmer and a bit more glamorous and gives the series a distinctive personality compared to other detective series.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently filming in the Dolomites with Danny de Vito
Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
I once played bass in an Elvis tribute band
What are you watching these days?
Watching some outstanding documentaries and Succession of course
Anything else you want to share?
The film in Italy is directed by my old friend Peter Chelsom who directed Shall we Dance and Serendipity. We wrote his first movie Hear my Song together. Starring Ned Beaty and David Mc Callum.