With BBC One’s much-anticipated drama Crossfire premiering tonight, Keeley Hawes, Josette Simon and Louise Doughty have revealed more details about the new series.
If there’s one series that’s set to send shockwaves (quite literally) among viewers after watching, it’s Crossfire. The new Keeley Hawes-fronted drama airs on BBC One tonight (Tuesday 20 September) and trust us, you’ll be left with a hell of a lot of questions, be on the edge of your seat and will certainly be left nervously biting away at your fingernails after the one hour-long premiere episode.
When a group of age-old friends go to a holiday resort together, you expect nothing more than aqua aerobic classes, poolside cocktails and evening entertainment to fill their days. But on their first morning in the resort, there’s a gun attack at the hotel that leaves many dead, injured and running for their lives. It’s a fast-paced action thriller but, in a more surprising turn of events, is also an observation into the human nature of such tragedy. The drama is not only a masterclass in what makes an unmissable series but also, it explores the very real impact that can come from such a disaster.
It’s safe to say that we can’t wait for the series to premiere and in a special screening event held by the BBC on Monday 5 September, leading actors Keeley Hawes, Josette Simon and series creator and writer Louise Doughty sat down to chat about Crossfire.
Simon admitted that reading the script for Crossfire “gripped me by the throat and wouldn’t let me go” so we already know it’s going to set the autumn TV schedule off with a bang. With that, here are five things you should know about the new drama before it airs.
The unconventional structure of the series will help us understand Keeley Hawes’ character more
It may only be three episodes long but this series is full of meaty plotlines and sub-plotlines that will keep you hooked. We may start off the series in the midst of the tragedy, but according to Doughty, the structure of the series is integral to our understanding of Jo (Hawes) and the other characters at the centre of the drama.
She explains: “Yes, it’s over three parts and the conceit of it is that the attack happens in real time as you see it progress. But then, within that, there are flashbacks to the characters’ lives. Like the point at which Jo has the idea for them all to go on holiday, which is, of course, the point at which they’re all set on this path. And then there are also flash forwards, which you see more of later and crucially, you do see what happens when the characters come back home.
“We come back home with them in episode three at the end of the attack and that was something that I personally felt extremely passionately about because I really wanted to honour the fact that these kinds of experiences – these horrific experiences – happen to real people who have real whole lives leading up to them. And then have real lives that lead away from them. People who have been through a horrific experience still can find themselves in the supermarket the following week buying milk. How do you bring those two together – the extreme experience that happens within an ordinary life?”
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Crossfire doesn’t focus on the perpetrators but rather, the three women at the centre of it all
Speaking about Crossfire, Doughty discussed the responsibility of making a drama about such a traumatic event that holds real-life connotations. She says: “When you make a drama of this nature, you want to be honourable towards the reality of the experience.
“We all know, there are a huge amount of action dramas made that focus on the perpetrators, that have them as anti-heroes, that have a lot about the rationale behind such an attack.” And while Hawes is certainly one of the series leads, Simon and Anneika Rose (Line Of Duty) also play pivotal parts in the narrative of this drama.
Doughty explains: “We were all adamant and very much on board that this is about Jo, Miriam and Abhi. The people and their families, the people who are on the receiving end, it’s about the victims and survivors and what it’s really like for them.
“We’re with their point of view the whole time, the whole way through the show. And actually, the government get the minimum coverage in order to understand what’s happening. That was something that we all felt passionately – there are not enough dramas made about the people on the receiving end of gun violence or attacks … that was what interested us.”
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Crossfire may not seem relatable but it really is
A drama about a gun attack in a holiday resort may not sound instantly relatable to a lot of people – and it won’t be on the face of it – but actually, what Crossfire does well is make the questions at the heart of this series so realistic, you’re forced to consider them yourself while watching.
Simon refers to the series as a drama “about ordinary people in an extraordinary situation”. She says it’s about “trying to imagine the unimaginable” but it’s also about “relationships between each other: friends, partners, children. And also, your relationship with yourself”.
How so, you may ask. Well, Simon says: “Because I think none of us would ever know what we would do in a situation like that. We wouldn’t know whether we would help, I suppose, or that we might be brave or help other people or do something. We don’t know, we have no idea.
“And the thing about these characters is that they are ordinary people like you and I, on a holiday that most people would recognize: in a resort, laying on a sun lounger and all the rest of it.”
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There’s one question at the heart of Crossfire and it may just surprise you
When speaking about Crossfire, Hawes is quietly adamant about the intentions of the series. While it may be a drama that deals with gun violence, it’s not actually a series about it at all in her eyes.
She says: “It’s not about guns or the government. It’s about – I think for the viewer and anybody who has seen it – they don’t go away and talk about those aspects of it. The question is, what would you do?” Hawes jokingly asks: “Would you be a Jo? Or would you be a Keeley?”
But then also (and more importantly) according to Hawes, Crossfire gets us to ask ourselves “How would you handle it?” and it’s this “human side of things” that she explains that Doughty captured so well.
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The central relationship of the series is the friendship triangle between the three main women
From the premise alone, you may think this series is about one thing and one thing only but actually, that’s where Crossfire will surprise you. Doughty says that the central relationship focus of the series is actually the women at the heart of it. She says: “The primary relationships are between the three women leads – between Jo, Miriam and Abhi.
“Yes, the husband and the kids appear but the actual trio of relationships and this sort of friendship triangle that you see on-screen is the central relationship. And the central development throughout the three episodes of the drama is the three women who are at the heart of it.”
The centring of three older women on-screen is something that is intentional and important in a TV industry that so often sidelines these narratives. Simon explains: “I’ve got to say that I know we seem to be banging on about that a lot. And, you know, quite rightly really. But what I would hope is, in the future, we wouldn’t have to point it out as an exception.”
Episode one of Crossfire premieres tonight on BBC One and BBC iPlayer at 9pm, with the next two episodes airing consecutively on Wednesday and Thursday evening.
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