Philip Glenister says his new role as a policeman in upcoming BBC drama Steeltown Murders is “totally the opposite” to his well-known character Gene Hunt from Life On Mars.
The British actor, who starred in the 2006 show alongside John Simm, said he felt a sense of “responsibility” when portraying real-life DCI Paul Bethell in the new series.
Steeltown Murders is a four-part drama series based on the real life Llandarcy murders.
Set in both 1973 and the early 2000s, it centres on the hunt to catch the killer of three young women in the Port Talbot area of south Wales.
The mystery was solved almost 30 years later using pioneering DNA evidence – the first of its kind.
Speaking about his role in Steeltown Murders, he said: “I think it’s a responsibility and it’s a privilege.
“It’s interesting because I haven’t played a policeman since Gene Hunt in (2008’s) Ashes to Ashes.
“I am so aligned with that role, so it’s really – not to use the word exciting, but – I wanted to play another policeman and this was totally the opposite to Gene Hunt in many respects.
“Paul Bethell is a real person and Gene Hunt is fictional.”
The real Paul Bethell has been closely involved in the project and has been on set while filming took place.
Glenister said Mr Bethell had been “so laid back” and he had been able to ask him questions to prepare for the role, but had not wanted to be “bogged down” by perfecting his mannerisms.
He continued: “I think the overall feeling is that it’s a responsibility to serve the story because there are obviously family members.
“We have to serve the story and them above all and respect them. I think respect is the word.
“When it’s based on something that is real and so traumatic because it involves three teenage girls, and having daughters myself, it hits you.
“It’s unimaginable what the families have gone through. I haven’t sort of looked at it as a thriller, to me, it’s more a drama-documentary that we are making.
Steeltown Murders also stars Scott Arthur, as a younger Paul Bethell, Steffan Rhodri, Sion Alun Davies, Nia Roberts, Elinor Crawley and Sita Anwar.
It was written by Ed Whitmore and directed by Marc Evans.
Evans said he hoped the main takeaway from the series would be a better understanding of the story and that it would shed light on the “brave and diligent work” of the police officers involved.
“But equally, speaking as a Welsh filmmaker I always like to think that people come and visit us through these dramas and that they’ll get a slice of who we are as a culture, as an area,” he said.
“It’s where I’m from and it’s an extra motivation for me making stuff which is from here.
“I think it’s nice on a very basic level seeing our world out there on the big screen both in terms of network and internationally.”
Steeltown Murders begins at 9pm on Monday May 15 on BBC One, with all episodes then available on BBC iPlayer.