The Long Call: Ben Aldridge felt ‘pressure’ from Ann Cleeves over iconic role

The Long Call: Ben Aldridge felt ‘pressure’ from Ann Cleeves over iconic role

10/26/2021

The Long Call: Ben Aldridge stars in dramatic trailer

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Ben plays protagonist Detective Inspector Matthew Venn in The Long Call, a new four-part adaptation of the novel with the same name written by Cleeves in 2019. The character is the first, openly gay lead in a detective drama and therefore the role is groundbreaking not only for ITV but for British television. However, the actor really felt the pressure and responsibility when Ann decided to visit the set and offer advice on how she would bring her book to life.

Speaking about her visit to the set with Express.co.uk and other press, Ben said: “She was there for a couple of days and it was lovely to chat with her.

“Ann was extremely supportive and open and I suppose that moment of talking to her I realised Matthew is hers and her creation.”

The actor admitted: “She then hands it off to us and the wheels are already in motion at that point so there’s a bit of pressure on me at the moment thinking, ‘Have I brought to life her vision for him?’

“But it didn’t feel like that at all and it was really fascinating to listen to what inspired her to write him as a character and the reason she decided to make him queer.

“Then we just spoke about some specific things with relationships and it was really interesting because we agreed on lots of things.”

“But it was very interesting to hear her thoughts of what he’s experiencing and then what he might experience beyond this series,” Ben continued.

“We spoke about the second novel and the journey he takes on that. It was a lovely and really easy conversation, it was great to have her there as well, I felt really honoured.”

Executive producer and head of Silverprints productions who filmed the drama, Kate Bartlett, also spoke about the writer’s visit to set.

She said: ” I would say she is wonderfully supportive from the sidelines. Ann trusts us, she lets us get on with it actually, she trusts us with her characters and that we will honour her characters and honour the atmospheric world she creates.

Bit of pressure on me

Ben Aldridge

“Then she knows we’re going to need to work with the material to make it the show we want it to be and she knows we will have to find new material or create new storylines in order to achieve what we need to achieve,” Kate continued.

“So she very much lets us get on with it and she came down to the set and she was incredibly supportive.

“I think she came down to filming on one of the most dramatic days of filming with the baptism but yes, she’s brilliant.

Kate is also very proud of how the cast and crew adapted the novel, stating: “It’s beautifully written by Kelly [Jones], it’s beautifully directed and beautifully acted.

“I think it is a mainstream show and it should appeal to an ITV audience and to others. You’re making a show because you want to make a great drama and you want it to appeal to a wider audience as possible and I really hope this does bring in a new audience.”

Lee Haven Jones, who is the director of the crime-thriller, also offered his take on Ann’s visit and reiterated his colleague’s sentiments.

The director said: “It was great. She’s incredibly warm and open and understands that writing a novel is a very different act from writing a screenplay and allows us freedom.

“They are very different forms, novel and television and you do have to take liberties therefore and it’s great to have such an easygoing and freeing presence to help you along the way really.

“That particular day [of the baptism] was quite a day but I can’t say any of us felt intimidated by having the author present.”

“She’s just a very gentle presence and she trusts Kate and Silverprint because we know they have been entrusted with bringing Vera and Shetland to life,” Lee continued.

“And I suspect Ann is very pleased with the outcome with both of those series and she will be pleased with this one.”

Ann has curated this story, in particular, based on the backdrop of her days spent growing up in Devon as a child.

Episode one set the scene of a murder investigation of a body being found on the beach but the rest of the dramatic instalments will explore the secrets of the seemingly tight-knit community.

The Long Call airs weeknights at 9pm on ITV.

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