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					                               PRESS PACK

Introduction                                Page 2

Cast List                                   Page 3

Synopsis                                    Page 4

Cast Interviews

     Interview with AMANDA BURTON           Page 5
     (Commander Clare Blake)

     Interview with MARK LEWIS JONES        Page 7
     (DCI Doug James)

     Interview with CRISSY ROCK             Page 9
     (Adele Davis)

     Interview with SIAN BROOKE             Page 10
     (DC Marian Randall)

     Interview with JENNIFER ELLISON        Page 11
     (Shena Davis)

     Interview with DILYS LAYE              Page 13
     (Edna Sutton)

     Interview with PAUL BRIGHTWELL         Page 15
     (DS Brian Hall)

     Interview with JOANNE ADAMS            Page 17
     (Zoe James)

     Interview with NIALL MCGREGOR          Page 19
     (DS Matt Newton)

Production Interviews

     Interview with Gillies MacKinnon       Page 20

     Interview with Lachlan MacKinnon       Page 22

     Lynda La Plante Biography              Page 24
     (Writer/ Producer)

Production Credits                          Page 26

             TX: Mon 10th, Tue 11th, Wed 12th November 2008

Returning to ITV1 this autumn is THE COMMANDER. Amanda Burton
leads the cast as Commander Clare Blake in this 3 x 60min special.

Amanda Burton starring alongside Mark Lewis Jones as DCI Doug James
and Paul Brightwell as DS Brian Hall. Guest artists include Dilys Laye
(The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, Carry On Doctor/ Camping/ Spying) along
with the award-winning actor Crissy Rock (Trial & Retribution IX,
Ladybird Ladybird), and Jennifer Ellison (The Cottage, Liverpool Nativity,
New Street Law) playing a mother and daughter caught up in the
abduction of a baby; just one of the challenging cases for Commander
Clare Blake and her team.

Blake is faced with two horrific crimes - a newborn baby goes missing
from a maternity ward, and an elderly women is brutally murdered; the
shock of these crimes is amplified when the commander discovers that the
baby is DCI Doug James’ newborn. And the elderly woman is DS Brian
Hall’s mother.

As the investigation turns on her own team and the situation intensifies,
Blake’s highly individual style of policing is under the spotlight once again.
Will she sacrifice her own career in the pursuit of what is right?

The Commander Abduction is written by Lynda La Plante, directed by
Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky, Regeneration, Small Faces), produced
by Lachlan MacKinnon (City of Vice) and La Plante Productions for ITV1.

Lynda La Plante says...

"This three-part special is a pressure cooker of emotions that doesn't let
up and one that sees Blake tested both personally and professionally
beyond anything she has experienced before.

To work alongside the regular cast of THE COMMANDER was, as always, a
most enjoyable experience. I am fortunate to have such a talented
cast and introduce some very exciting new artists along with the
marvellous director Gillies MacKinnon. I really feel we have delivered
something special.”


Commander Clare Blake
  DCI Doug James
    DS Brian Hall
  DC Marian Randall
  DS Matt Newton
    DAC Sumpter
     Shena Davis
     Adele Davis
     Zoe James
     Fiona George
     Jerry Delany
     Edna Sutton
     Miss Fuller
       Mrs Hall
    Sharon Davies
  Betting Shop Boss
    Alistair Gordon
    Helen Gordon

                             SHORT SYNOPSIS

An elderly woman bludgeoned to death in her own home. A newborn baby
abducted from hospital. Two harrowing and emotional cases coincide, both
directly involving members of Commander Clare Blake’s own homicide
team. As the investigation intensifies Blake’s highly individual style of
policing is under the spotlight once again. Will she sacrifice her own career
in the pursuit of what is right?

Episode One

Commander Clare Blake is tasked to oversee a tragic case; an elderly
woman is bludgeoned to death in her own home. The shocking nature of
the crime is compounded when she learns that the victim’s son, and prime
suspect, is DS Brian Hall from her own murder team. As details of Brian’s
hidden life as an alcoholic emerge, DCI Doug James has to deal with his
own problems; the friction his ambivalence about the imminent birth of
his first baby is causing with his wife Zoe. However, when the baby finally
arrives, they discover their nightmare is only just beginning…

Episode Two

With everyone reeling from the aftershock of the abduction of Doug’s baby
at the hospital, Blake begins to feel the heat from the pressure-cooker of
these two high-profile yet deeply personal cases coinciding. The focus is
now on the mothers from Zoe’s maternity class – could it be possible one
of them was faking a pregnancy? Brian Hall still has no recollection of
what happened the night of his mother’s murder, appearing resigned to
the fact that he may have killed her. However, after being attacked in
prison he starts to remember what could be a crucial development.
Question is, can he convince a deflated and distracted Doug that he’s
telling the truth?

Episode Three

Following a supervised visit to the murder site, Brian becomes convinced
that somebody else was in the room with him when he found his mother’s
body. Blake digs deeper, and discovers the truth is much more shocking
than they imagined. Meanwhile, Rookie DC Marian Randall’s intuitive work
pays off when she uncovers the true identity of the abductor, and the
tragic story behind it. However, Blake’s judgement forces her into a
desperate act, from which there may be no coming back. Tested both
personally and professionally as the consequences of her actions begin to
bite, has Commander Blake taken a risk too far this time?

                            CAST INTERVIEWS

                                        AMANDA BURTON
                                        plays Commander Clare Blake

                                        Did you enjoy        making     this

                                        I enjoyed it very much. It has such
                                        intensity - birth, death, guilt,
                                        loneliness, passion - so much
                                        energy. It’s not just all about the
                                        investigation. It’s about the really
                                        fascinating behaviour of all the

                                        It’s a very human story. A lot of the
                                        plot centres on Brian and Doug. I
                                        think there’s a really interesting
                                        parallel between them. Two very
                                        different men: different ranks, very
                                        different circumstances, and they are
                                        both going crazy because of the
                                        different personal nightmares they
                                        are living through.

Brian was part of Blake’s team and, like Doug, she thought she knew him
quite well. But as his history unfolds, both Clare and Doug realise how
little they really knew about him and it does make them feel hugely guilty.

Blake has two new members on her team. What does she think of
Matt and Marian?

The thing with Blake is that she’s seen them come and she’s seen them
go. Her instincts about people are pretty good so she knows intuitively
how people are likely to perform and susses them out very quickly. She
knows Matt’s not up to much - even before his big cock-up comes to light.
But when it does she bawls him out in a very big way; raves at him for his

She’s definitely got more time for Marian. She can see herself in her - a
Clare in the making. But even so, she doesn’t really listen to her, which is
not to her credit.

We see a different side to Blake in this story: a maternal streak?

I think it’s a deeply sad story for Blake. It seems she’s realised that the
birth of Doug and Zoe’s baby is probably as close as she’s ever going to
get to a newborn. She’ll never have her own children now. So she wants
to be close to them and share the amazing magic that a new baby brings
with it. She buys presents and stays up through the night with Doug. And
she’s touchingly flattered that she’s one of the first people Doug calls
when the baby is born.

In her “moment of madness” she seems more driven by maternal
feelings than police procedure

Yes, in that moment she’s like a lioness, protecting a cub. It’s something
that just kicks in. The sad thing is that she knows she’s doing the wrong
thing, but just has to let her instincts rule her head.

But, to be fair to her, it’s an adrenalin-charged situation. She’s just had a
full-on fight and then she hears this poor baby crying. Everything seems
to fall into place: this baby is being neglected, its mother is a mad
woman, get it to safety. In that split second Blake adds it all up and gets
it disastrously wrong. As she says: “I’ve just done something so insane.”


Television: The Commander, Forgotten, Silent Witness, Marple: Nemesis,
Inspector Morse, Little Bird, Peak Practice, The Gift, Whistle Blower.
Film: Bronson

                                         MARK LEWIS JONES
                                         plays DCI Doug James

                                         Doug is not a happy man when
                                         we meet him again this time is

                                         No, he’s not happy at all. He’s in a
                                         state of high tension brought about
                                         by pressure at home and at work.
                                         His relationship with Zoe is not great
                                         and hasn’t been for a while. They
                                         were actually about to split up when
                                         they discovered she was pregnant
                                         and now the birth is imminent and
                                         Doug really doesn’t want this baby.

                                      Like a lot of first time fathers, he just
                                      can’t imagine what life is going to be
                                      like with the huge responsibility of a
                                      child. Added to that, he doesn’t fancy
                                      Zoe anymore. He finds the whole
idea of pregnancy completely alien and weird. He doesn’t even want to
touch her, let alone feel the thing move! He’s not attending the ante-natal
classes, which is really annoying her because she thinks he’s putting his
work before their baby – which, in truth, he probably is; but more as a
refuge than anything else.

But basically he’s is not firing on all cylinders on any front. He’s got huge
pressure at work. His ex-DS, Brian Hall, is in a dreadful state; dragged
down by gambling and booze, he is now suspected of killing his own
mother. So Doug is obviously very concerned about him – and deeply
disturbed by the possibility that this man, whom he thought he knew so
well, might actually be capable of murder.

And his life gets worse before it gets better

The baby arrives and it is that completely life-changing experience for him
which he didn’t think was possible. He and Zoe are both euphoric and
genuinely happy for the first time in ages. But not for long because then
the unimaginable happens: their baby goes missing from hospital.

Doug finds it almost impossible to cope with. He feels so utterly helpless.
He can’t be at home because it’s just too painful and he’s worse than
useless at work because he’s far too emotionally involved. Consequently
he gets into a manic state which really doesn’t help anyone.

But amazingly all the trauma seems to bring Doug and Zoe closer

Yes, the good thing to come out of it all is that Doug and Zoe’s
relationship survives. They don’t implode under the strain. It makes them
stronger. It’s a sad fact that sometimes it takes something monumental to
bring a couple back together.


Television: The Commander, Passion, Cought in the Act, Pris Y,
Torchwood, The Cockle Farmer, Small Country, Waking the Dead, 55
Degrees North, Spooks. Film: The Other Boleyn Girl, Daddy's Girl, Bridge
Of Lies, Solomon & Gaenor, Master & Commander: The Far Side Of The
World, Troy.

                                        CRISSY ROCK
                                        plays Adele Davis

                                        What’s your         character    Adele
                                        Davis like?

                                        She’s off her head quite frankly! A
                                        right one. I tried to do three things
                                        with the character. I wanted to make
                                        her funny, cheeky but also very
                                        nervous. Lynda wrote me some
                                        hilarious lines so the funny part was
                                        a doddle and she’s got to be cheeky
                                        because of what she’s doing but,
                                        God, she’s terrified of getting caught,
                                        so the nerves are there all the time
                                        too. She is dead naughty and she’s
                                        been in trouble with the law before,
                                        but never anything like this.

                                        Did you enjoy playing the part?

It was brilliant, really good fun. It’s really such a funny role. We laughed
so much the whole time it’s a miracle it got made at all! It was a lovely
experience and such nice people to work with. I had worked with Lynda
and the La Plante crew before in Trial & Retribution Closure some time
ago so I knew it would be fun and was delighted to be asked to work with
them again. The whole cast was wonderful. Dilys was great of course. And
I really like Amanda; she’s so funny, that was quite a surprise because
she tends to play very serious roles, but she’s a real giggle!


Television: Benidorm, Trial and Retribution           XI,   Nice   Guy   Eddie,
Brookside, Peak Practice. Film: Act of Grace.

                                     SIAN BROOKE
                                     plays DC Marian Randall

                                     Describe your       character,    DC
                                     Marian Randall

                                     Marian is a DC but she’s only in her
                                     early 30s. She must have worked
                                     very hard to have got to that
                                     position so young. She loves her
                                     job; in fact I think she’s probably a
                                     bit of a workaholic. I don’t think she
                                     has much of a social life!

                                     She definitely wants to get on up
                                     the ranks, doesn’t she?

                                      Yes, but the nice thing about Marian
                                      is that she’s quietly confident - not
                                      brash and arrogant at all. Which
                                      makes her a nice contrast to Niall’s
                                      character, DS Matt Newton! She’s
                                      focussed, forceful and ambitious.
Marian is certainly hoping for promotion and so she’s out to impress - and
to her that means getting results, not through sucking up or showing off.

She’s someone who’s always trying to come up with solutions, so she
feels frustrated because she is being rather over-looked. Which is why she
decides to act on her own initiative.

She’s a bit of an outsider in Blake’s team

Yes, she came from the Flying Squad, so, although she’s not at all fazed
by dealing with highly demanding cases, she doesn’t know exactly how
they do things in Murder. She still has to learn the ropes before she can
really be part of the team. But she sort of turns that to her advantage
because it allows her to keep a low profile.


Television: Midsomer Murders, The Fixer, Cape Wrath, Hotel Babylon,
Foyle’s War, Housewife, 49, A Touch of Frost, All About George.

                                         JENNIFER ELLISION
                                         plays Shena Davis

                                         What’s your character Shena
                                         Davis like?

                                         She’s feisty and tough and pretty
                                         outrageous. She’s never had a
                                         proper family background. She’s
                                         been dragged up by her mother.
                                         They’ve both been in and out of jail
                                         and she’s basically a product of her
                                         mother’s corrupt, criminal lifestyle.

                                         She doesn’t really know right from
                                         wrong. I don’t think she’s
                                         deliberately malicious, she just
                                         doesn’t know any better and I don’t
                                         think she realises that, as a
                                         consequence of some of her actions,
                                         she’s really hurting other people.

You seem to have a real rapport with Crissy Rock who plays your

I know; we’re like a comedy duo! Shena and Adele are both so funny, so
brash and they come out with the most disgraceful things. Crissy is great.
I’d worked with her before on Brookside, but that was a while ago and it
was great for us to be able to get together again, playing completely
different characters.

It was really good fun. But it was actually quite demanding too, because
comedy acting is all about timing, it’s not like just being a naturally funny
person. Also, most of Shena’s humour is not really intentional; it’s just
that the comments that roll off her tongue are so extreme and unexpected
that they make you laugh out loud.

So I tried to play her for real, rather than for laughs, and let the comedy
come through in the dialogue as Lynda wrote it, which I hope makes it a
more interesting performance.

Did you enjoy your role in The Commander?

It was a really lovely job. Shena was a fantastic character to play. The
other members of the cast were so great, the crew were all excellent and
Lynda is just incredible. And it was amazing to work alongside Amanda


Television: New Street Law, Hotel Babylon, The Brief, Brookside.
Film: The Cottage, The Phantom of the Opera.

                                         DILYS LAYE
                                         plays Edna Sutton

                                         What’s your character Edna
                                         Sutton like?

                                         She’s rather pathetic really. Edna is
                                         an addict and, like anyone who as
                                         an addiction, she is at the mercy of
                                         it. She’s not on the hard stuff or the
                                         bingo like so many lonely women of
                                         a certain age. With her it’s on-line

                                     She has no family and only had one
                                     friend, Mrs Hall, her next-door
                                     neighbour. I think she had been
                                     under the thumb of her so-called
                                     friend for some time. Because Edna
                                     was a whiz on the computer, Mrs
                                     Hall got her to do all sorts of jobs
                                     for her, including - unfortunately -
                                     her on-line banking! And with
access to her bank account, Edna has stolen a lot of money off her one-
time best friend.

And her gambling has disastrous consequences

Yes, she has got herself seriously in debt and now she is a thief too. It
just got out of hand and she has no idea how to get herself out of trouble.
When Mrs Hall confronts her she’s desperate.

It was a very violent murder. Did it upset you?

Oh it was the most fun! Absolutely fascinating and quite a technical feat.
There was so much blood - blood everywhere. The poor woman had tubes
threaded through her hair pumping it out. I’ve never seen so much blood
in all my life!

Edna maintains that Brian Hall, her friend’s son, is the murderer

Well, yes, and the police know that Brian was at the scene. But he’s an
alcoholic and really doesn’t know what he saw or what happened.

She’s on tenterhooks the whole time, just in case suspicion turns on her.
And she’s terrified when Commander Blake takes an interest in her

computer. When the policeman tries to take her computer away she
actually fights him for it and has to be restrained!

Did you enjoy playing the part?

It was an absolute joy. For one thing it is so beautifully written. But also
La Plante Productions are simply a divine company to work for. Amazingly
it was my very first La Plante production, although I worked with Lynda
many, many years ago, when she was still an actress. I rejoice in her


Television: Doctors, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, Midsomer Murders,
Holby City, Coronation Street, Eastenders. Film: Dog Eat Dog, Carry on
Camping, Carry on Doctor, Carry on Spying, Blue Murder at St. Trinian’s,
Doctor at Large.

                                         PAUL BRIGHTWELL
                                         plays DS Brian Hall

                                         Brian is at rock bottom when
                                         his mother is killed isn’t he?

                                         Yes, he’s in a terrible state. He has
                                         been suspended for six months for
                                         drinking and gambling. He has
                                         recently lost his wife to cancer and
                                         now he has been arrested for his
                                         mother’s murder. He had a terrible
                                         relationship with his mother, and,
                                         as he can’t remember anything
                                         about the murder - except for
                                         finding her body - at first he
                                         assumes he must have done it.

                                         It must have been a huge
                                         challenge to play this part?

                                         Yes, but it’s the kind of challenge
                                         one absolutely relishes as an actor.
It was a real gift that Lynda gave me.

It was so interesting plotting the changes in Hall - emotionally, physically
and psychologically - as he dried out. And of course, it wasn’t shot in
sequence, so that meant I had to keep a really tight grip on where the
character was in every scene.

In the early stages, when he finds his mother’s body, he’s very drunk,
very near the bottom point. Then, when he dries out in prison, it leads to
a nasty section of DTs, caused by his rapid withdrawal from alcohol. He
has done terrible damage to his central nervous system. His nerves are on
fire. The marvellous thing about alcohol in moderation is that it calms the
nerves, but long-term abuse has the opposite effect.

Then there’s the psychosis stage and terrible depression coming to the
surface. Then anger. It’s amazing the energy that drunks - particularly dry
drunks - have. Depression is often at the root of alcoholism - depression
being a kind of frozen anger. When you tackle the depression and the ice
begins to melt what emerges is a murderous rage.

Hall’s story doesn’t look like having a happy ending though, does

No, it looks like he’s back on the booze at the end. Many alcoholics - and
Hall is obviously one of them - suffer from what’s called exogenous
depression. It’s basically depression that’s brought on by a reaction to
circumstances beyond their control. The recent tragic events in Hall’s life,
his wife dying of cancer, combined with having had a bad formative
relationship with his mother, make him a prime candidate.

Without on-going help, he doesn’t stand a very good chance of getting
back on his feet.

Did you enjoy the part?

It was absolutely wonderful. Lynda is the most fantastic writer and Gillies
is the most fantastic director! They are both incredibly creative people and
always so responsive to actors’ suggestions and Gillies is always willing to
go to another take to get it right. The whole team - cast and crew - are
lovely to work with.


Television: The Commander, The Bill, Doctors, Bad Girls, New Tricks,
Murphy’s Law. Film: Kingdom of Heaven, Sleepy Hollow, Sliding Doors,

                                         JOANNE ADAMS
                                         plays Zoe James

                                         Zoe’s not too happy with life is

                                         Well,    she’s  delighted   to   be
                                         pregnant, but she’s having a hard
                                         time for several reasons. Primarily
                                         because she feels that she’s not
                                         getting any support from Doug. But
                                         also her self-confidence is at a
                                         really low ebb. In her previous life
                                         she had been a dancer in a club -
                                         trading on her looks. Now she feels
                                         fat and unattractive and so she’s

                                        She wants attention from her
                                        husband and she’s not getting it
                                        because he finds her unattractive
                                        too! He says it’s pressure of work,
                                        but she thinks Doug is using the
Brian Hall situation as an excuse not to be around her. So she’s lonely and
she’s wondering whether things will get any better when the baby arrives.

But things do improve dramatically when the baby is born

When the baby is born and it becomes a reality for Doug his feelings
change completely. It’s a revelation to him. He realises he has a son and
that they are a family now and that makes a huge difference. They share
amazing joy and happiness. You really feel that it’s the start of a change
in their relationship.

And then the unthinkable happens. Their baby is taken from the

No sooner have they started celebrating his arrival than the little boy
vanishes. Well of course, they are both totally devastated. It’s so soon
after the birth they haven’t even had a chance to bond or get to know
him. And their world collapses again.

Zoe copes more honestly with the abduction than Doug. Zoe is very down
to earth and straight-forward. She tries to remain rational and think of
practical things to do. But Doug just goes to pieces. He’s all over the place

and no use to anyone. She can’t get through to him and suddenly she’s a
lonely as she was when she was pregnant.

Did you enjoy the part?

I like playing Zoe. She’s fun and she has a sense of humour. And Mark is
wonderful to work with and I think we work well together. We do have a
chemistry on set and I think the audience believes in us as a couple. This
one was quite draining to do because it was so emotional and such a
roller-coaster. But it was still fun.

Lynda’s writing is such a joy to perform. It’s easy to learn, which I think is
a sign of really good writing. It feels and sounds right. And Lynda and the
team have a way of bringing out the best in people and making sure that
everyone enjoys themselves.


Television: The Commander, Casualty, The Bill, Eastenders, The Murder
Game, London’s Burning. Film: Love Me Still.

                                        NIALL MCGREGOR
                                        plays DS Matt Newton

                                        Describe your       character,    DS
                                        Matt Newton

                                        He’s the new boy on the block. This
                                        is his first job in the murder squad
                                        and he certainly does himself no
                                        favours.      It’s   not    that he’s
                                        incompetent;            he’s      just
                                        inexperienced in this job. He’s way
                                        too          self-confident      and,
                                        unfortunately, he seems to lack any
                                        self-awareness! He’s also very

                                    Consequently he does have a
                                    tendency to jump in with both feet
                                    – excuse the pun! Which gets him
                                    into trouble. He gets right up
                                    Blake’s nose, which is not a good
                                    place to be. And he manages to
contaminate the murder scene with his big, muddy footprint.

He makes a big mistake, but tries to cover it up

It’s such a basic mistake to make. But the thing is, because of his
arrogance, he doesn’t come clean from the start - which is obviously what
he should have done. He seems to think that if he keeps quiet, maybe it’ll
go away. Well, of course it doesn’t and he gets in very big trouble as a

Did you enjoy the part?

Oh yes, it was a fun character to play. Not a character-type I’ve ever
played before. He comes out with some outrageously inappropriate lines
which are very funny. But the one I like best is when Blake trips up, and
he says: “I wouldn’t like to be in her shoes.” Who could resist the irony?


Television: Heroes and Villains: Cortes, Messiah: The Rapture, The Bill,
Dalziel and Pascoe, Rough Crossings, Party Animals, Holby City, Monarch
of the Glen.

                        PRODUCTION INTERVIEWS


What were the         key    challenges    involved    in   directing   this

The first of the three episodes presented the biggest challenge. It has a
very dramatic opening, which is then followed by quite a long section in
which the different characters’ backgrounds are revealed. It’s a great
chance to really pull the audience in and make them care about the
characters and their stories. But there’s a danger that they might begin to
wonder where the story is going. Then Lynda blasts the drama out of the
water at the end of that first episode.

The interesting challenge was to keep the audience’s interest through until
the end of the first episode. We thought about it a lot and the nice thing is
that there is a lot of gentle humour throughout the first episode.
Especially the interplay between the young cop who keeps messing up
and making blunders and the reaction of the seasoned cop.

So, the key to keeping the energy going was a fun script, together with
great lighting and music. It worked really well, because it has allowed us
to make the first episode a Lynda La Plante drama with humour and
perhaps a lighter touch than usual. Then of course comes the jolt – and
the next two episodes look after themselves!

So lighting and music are important elements in the drama?

Absolutely essential. The Director of Photography, Nigel Willoughby and I
have done a number of TV and film projects together. Lighting is always
hugely important. It has to suit the pace and rhythm of shooting,
otherwise you can run into real trouble. Over a three-hour-long drama,
the right lighting is essential to keep the energy going. Nigel is great at

The composer, Anne Dudley is also very talented. She produced a lot of
music and it really helps tie the drama together.

Did you enjoy working with the cast?

It was a real pleasure. They were a really nice group to work with.
Everybody just came up to the mark for it. It was particularly interesting

to work with Mark on his character, because he has a huge range of
scenes to deal with - from humour to desperation. It’s a real roller-coaster
for his character. And Paul and Amanda’s characters also go on emotional
journeys which stretched them to produce great performances.

The script put considerable demands on the actors, then?

Yes, it did, which they really enjoyed. And I felt very tuned in with Lynda
on this, in terms of what she had written, too. It’s a really good story and
a complex one, which I think reveals itself in an interesting and original


Television: Trial and Retribution, The History of Mr Polly, Gunpowder,
Treason & Plot, The Last of the Blonde Bombshells. Film: Tara Road,
Pure, The Escapist, Hideous Kinky, Regeneration.

Lachlan Mackinnon

What made you want to produce The Commander?

I was very keen to meet Lynda as I had long been a fan of her writing and
her TV work, especially Trial & Retribution, which I loved, right from the
early days. As soon as I met her I knew I really wanted to work with her.
She’s such an inventive writer and such a strong, decisive, determined

Then, when I read the script, I was totally hooked. I had actually just
become a Dad myself a few weeks before, so the story struck a very
personal chord with me. But I think it’s a story that will resonate with

I was so delighted to get Gillies on board. We’d never worked together
before – despite sharing a surname – but I am a big fan of his films. He’s
so creative and he works so well with the actors.

Sometimes working with such strong creative talents can be a big
challenge, but I can honestly say that this production was the smoothest
that I’ve ever been in charge of. And I think that was because everyone
communicated very well and had such positive drive.

What was it about this script that particularly appealed to you?

I think it’s quite a frightening story, but it’s a story everyone can relate to.
The abduction of a baby is a really deep-rooted fear for any parent. And
the storyline of Brian’s mother’s murder is complex and chilling – the
brutal murder of an innocent old lady is horrible, but then there’s Brian’s
torment of not really knowing whether he did kill her himself or not. Self-
doubt is a pretty universal feeling, but because his brain is addled and
destroyed by alcohol, there’s an added particularly scary dimension to it.

Lynda has a great talent for coming up with amazing plots as well as a
knack for creating very believable characters. The one thing that unites all
the characters in the story is the pressure-cooker that they are all in.
Throughout the drama, the pressure is slowly increasing as the clock
ticks. It makes for a really compelling drama.

The script must have been really demanding for the actors

It was, but they all loved it. Crissy and Jennifer have to lie convincingly
throughout, knowing that they’re guilty of kidnapping and that their secret

is getting bigger and bigger. The psychology of Amanda’s character is
wonderful. On the surface she seems so in control, but there’s always the
undercurrent that makes her totally unpredictable. Mark has an
extraordinary range of emotions to get across, the pressure on his
character is almost unbearable to watch.

Then there are the new recruits, Matt and Marian, who make a great
double act. The rivalry and one-upmanship between them is really funny
and adds a little light relief.

Dilys Laye’s performance was fantastic and so was Joanne Adams’. Her
birth scene was truly the best I have ever seen. Brilliant.

Was it difficult to make the hospital scenes convincing?

Authenticity is very important when you are dealing with anything
medical. It was an interesting challenge to find five or six babies less than
two weeks old for the maternity ward. You can’t just get tiny babies from
a casting agency. Amazingly we managed to get all the babies through
cast and crew family and friends.

And, having recently become a dad, I did set myself up as a bit of an
authority on the baby equipment – especially things like the empathy
belts, car seats, maternity ward, birthing scenes. It was all very fresh in
my memory!


Television: City of Vice, The Bill.

                      LYNDA LA PLANTE BIOGRAPHY

Lynda La Plante, CBE
Writer/ Producer

Over the past 13 years Lynda La Plante has spearheaded La Plante
Productions. In that time the company has produced a stunning slate of
innovative dramas with proven success and enduring international appeal.
La Plante’s philosophy is that the quality of the production that is at the
forefront of everything and it this quality that has set the benchmark for
the company.

Born in Liverpool and trained for the stage at the Royal Academy of
Dramatic Art (RADA). Work with the National Theatre and the Royal
Shakespeare Company led to a career as a television actress with regular
roles in dramas such as Fox, Minder and The Sweeney.

While filming The Gentle Touch as an actress, La Plante wrote four plot
outlines and sent them to the show’s producers. All were returned as
unsuitable, but on one someone had written ‘this is wonderful!’ That was
all the encouragement La Plante needed, and that brief synopsis
eventually became the phenomenally successful TV series Widows. La
Plante’s original scripts for the highly acclaimed Prime Suspect garnered
many awards and set a new standard for television drama.

La Plante Production Slate to date includes: nineteen series of Trial &
Retribution commissioned directly for the ITV Network; with impressive
ratings a further three shows, Trial & Retribution XX-XXII will air on ITV1
in 2009.

The Commander, starring Amanda Burton in the title role, premiered on
ITV1 in February 2003. Following its success a second series (‘Virus’ and
‘Blackdog’) aired in 2005. The Commander returned to our screens in

March 2006 with ‘Blacklight’ and in 2007 with ‘Devil You Know’, ‘Fraudster’
and ‘Windows of the Soul’. The fifth series of The Commander contains
three episodes and is die to TX in late 2008.

Two series of The Governor a television film and subsequent series of
Supply and Demand; Killer Net, a cyberspace thriller and Mind Games, a
pilot drama.

For US, La Plante co-wrote and executive produced The Prosecutors with
Tom Fontana (Oz) for NBC. The Konigsberg Company produced Bella
Mafia, a four-hour mini series for CBS which Lynda adapted from her
novel of the same name.

La Plante has also co-produced with ABC her adaptation of Widows,
produced Cold Shoulder as a pilot for New Regency/CBS and The Warden,
a two hour pilot for TNT, which is a changed format of her highly
successful series The Governor. La Plante executive produced Daniel
Petrie Jnr’s adaptation of her show Framed, which aired on TNT and
starred Sam Neill and Rob Lowe.

Above Suspicion; a two-hour drama filmed in London over the summer of
2008 launches a major new female detective in a gripping crime thriller
for ITV1.

Based on La Plante’s best selling novel, the two-part drama introduces DC
Anna Travis, a young and ambitious officer who is fast-tracking her way
through the ranks, eager to prove herself to be as successful as her late

La Plante International launched in 1993 as the company’s own
distribution company, in order to control the rights of its production slate
and oversee foreign sales. La Plante International is committed to close
involvement with its international broadcasters in order to cater for each
territory's specific marketing needs.

Awards Prime Suspect garnered many awards including six British
Academy Awards (BAFTA), the British Broadcasting Award, the Royal
Television Society Writer’s Award, the Edgar Allen Poe Writer’s Award and
an EMMY for Best Mini Series. La Plante won the 1997 Liverpool Echo Arts
Award for best television writer for Trial & Retribution and the series was
nominated for an Indie and a Royal Television Society Award. Widows was
nominated for a BAFTA award in 1982.

La Plante was awarded a creative writing scholarship to John Moores
University, in her hometown of Liverpool and is an honorary member of
the British Film Institute. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts
(BAFTA) has also awarded Lynda with the Dennis Potter Writers Award.

On Saturday 14th June 2008 Lynda was awarded a CBE in the Queen's
Birthday Honours List (Writer and Producer for services to Literature,
Drama and to Charity).

For further information on Lynda La Plante or La Plante Productions please

                          PRODUCTION CREDITS

Producers                                   LACHLAN MACKINNON
                                            LYNDA LA PLANTE
Writer                                      LYNDA LA PLANTE
Executive Producer                          LIZ THORBURN
Director                                    GILLIES MACKINNON

Director of Photography                     NIGEL WILLOUGHBY
Production Designer                         IAN FISHER
Costume Designer                            MARLENE LAWLOR
Make Up Designer                            SARAH GRISPO
Composer                                    ANNE DUDLEY
Film Editor                                 ANNE SOPEL

Line Producer                               ALISON LAW
1st Assistant Director                      CHERRY GOULD
Script Supervisor                           MARINELLA SETTI
Location Manager                            RICHARD GODFREY
Sound Mixer                                 SIMON CLARK
Art Director                                TONY ROCHE
Head of Development                         SARA JOHNSON
Story Advisor                               CALLUM SUTHERLAND
Script Editor                               NOEL FARRAGHER
Post-Production Supervisor                  PIPPA SUREN
Production Co-ordinator                     SUSANNA FYSON
2nd Assistant Director                      JAMES MANNING
3rd Assistant Director                      ANGHARAD JONES
Casting Director                            SAM JONES
Stills Photographer                         JOHN ROGERS
Press Pack Interviewer                      VICKY THOMAS
Press Pack Designer                         RICHARD DOBBS

For further information please contact Tim West at the ITV Press


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