With episode 1 of the BBC's new drama thriller, The Capture, airing tomorrow evening, find out more about the series from creator Ben Chanan and read a short interview with Holliday Grainger who plays DI Rachel Carey...
An acutely timed six-part surveillance thriller that looks at a troubling world of fake news and the extraordinary capabilities of the intelligence services. In this ‘post-truth era’, can we really believe what we see?
When soldier Shaun Emery’s (Callum Turner) conviction for murder is overturned because of flawed video evidence, he returns to life as a free man with his young daughter.
But when damning CCTV footage from a night out in London comes to light, his life takes a shocking turn - and he must fight for his freedom once again.
DI Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger) is drafted in to investigate Shaun’s case, but she quickly learns that the truth can be a matter of perspective: should she trust Shaun Emery?
The Capture is written and directed by Bafta Award-winning filmmaker Ben Chanan who explains more about his inspiration for the series: "Video evidence is one of the most successful ways to convict a criminal. Video fakery is becoming ever more convincing. So what happens when these two developments collide? What happens to criminal justice if we can no longer trust what we see?
When I began writing The Capture two years ago, these questions felt firmly like the stuff of hypothetical ‘what if’ drama. I think they still are, but maybe not for long. Now, barely a week goes by without a new warning about the potential horrors of facial recognition, deep-fakes or fake news. Perhaps we will soon have to find new ways to judge the veracity of video footage.
My characters, in their efforts to uncover the truth, fall back on more fundamental, human faculties: memory, trust, instinct. But these things are hardly infallible. Can the traumatised soldier rely on his memories? Can the idealistic police detective trust the institutions that surround her? Eventually, the soldier and the detective will come to question everything they know and believe in.
This turbulent scenario reflects how the world feels to me at the moment. Several years ago, when the foundations for this idea were laid, I was working on a documentary about counter terrorism, interviewing retired agents from US Homeland Security and the CIA. I got a clear sense of where they all were politically - generally Hawkish, George W Bush-era Republicans. Now many of those same spymasters are commentators for CNN. Routinely they lambast a Republican administration, whose President has professed a love for Wikileaks. Up is indeed down, black is white.
My ambition starting out was to create a modern-day conspiracy thriller that evoked the mood and paranoia of my favourite 1970s post-Watergate movies, The Parallax View and Three Days Of The Condor. I had no idea our current era would turn out to be such a good fit."
Holliday Grainger plays Rachel Carey in The Capture. Here's her interview:
Please complete the sentence: “DI Rachel Carey is…”
…a young Detective Inspector who’s just been promoted. Rachel’s on the fast track scheme for graduates within the police force.
She’s seen a lot very quickly, and we join the series with Carey having just been promoted to DI in Homicide, after a spell in Counter Terror. That’s the department which has all the money and resources thrown at it, which is apparently true in real life as well. Homicide gets not so much, so she’s a fish out of water at the beginning, trying to prove her worth to the really experienced people around her.
Rachel's ambitious and focused - she’s definitely career-hungry. As you meet her, you don’t really get to know her outside of work because there isn’t that much to get to know outside of work - her life revolves around work and therefore her relationships are within it. So when we meet her, she’s just ending an extramarital affair with her boss Commander Danny Hart, played by Ben Miles. It's a symptom of how much Rachel's life has revolved around her police work, and the excitement and the power within that, that she’s ended up in a relationship with her boss! Rachel's leaving his unit, so they are no longer going to be working day to day and therefore she's breaking it off to start a new chapter in a new department.
A lot of the drive that we see in Rachel throughout the series, the sort of moral drive for truth that she has, has come from her family. Her mum died when she was younger, and she later found out that her dad had two families and her mum had been duped and lied to for years. I think there is a lot of anger and bitterness towards her dad, and maybe also a little bit against her mum in the fact that she could be in a position to not know the truth. So Rachel has an absolute drive and desire to get to the bottom of things, all the time. And that is what fuels her throughout the series.
How does Rachel develop over the series?
We see a few levels to Carey throughout The Capture. To begin with she’s come from the somewhat glossy world of Counter Terror. That’s the high-flying area of policing that she wants to be part of, and is attracted to the power and the resources that they have.
In Homicide she’s a fish out of water, going back to the basics of real day-to-day, feet-on-ground policing that she hasn’t necessarily been part of. Part of her journey throughout is proving that she isn’t that... there's a stigma attached to the fast-track scheme that Carey has been on, and within the police world there is the idea of young fast-track person who comes in and isn’t as experienced as people under them. The feeling is they can progress too fast and leave things behind, without learning real skills.
Carey definitely wants to prove that she isn’t that. And hopefully as the series goes on, we believe her worth, and the people around her in Homicide get to see that she is good at what she does because of the drive that she has - she has a strong moral backbone and is desperate to get to the truth.
So as much as she’s ambitious and wants to do well, career-wise, there is a real desire in her to do good police work too. This is the crux of her dilemma, because at the beginning of the series she really, truly believes in the justice and legal system: it's what she wants to dedicate her life to and develop a career in.
When she starts to question the system and the institution, her own morals and her career ambitions are suddenly at odds with each other for the first time. In this dilemma between morals and career, I think she learns a lot about herself.
Rachel meets Shaun Emery in episode one - what's their relationship like?
They meet in episode one, but Rachel was aware of Shaun before. He's a soldier convicted of an unlawful killing during active duty, and has been through one high-profile case already. At the start of episode one we see him be acquitted on appeal.
Things then spin off in a whole other direction once Shaun is a free man, and he's recorded committing an horrific crime on CCTV. That's where Rachel comes in, because he is her target - she's after him, basically! Initially Shaun's her 'meal ticket' to promotion. She thinks that this is the high-profile case that will get her back into the world of Counter Terror. But the more she discovers about the case, the more she discovers about Shaun, and the more complicated she realises it is.
What were your impressions when you first read the scripts?
I loved the pace of them - it becomes such a fast-paced thriller, as the web of conspiracies unfolds and unreels and you realise how deep it is. And I found myself asking questions at the same pace as the script, which is quite rare. Quite often you either feel patronised or it’s too complicated, but I just loved the world and pace that Ben Chanan created. It really hooked me.
I’m a massive fan of scandi cop dramas like The Killing and The Bridge, and the beginning of the series and the world Carey inhabits reminded me of that, but then it spins off into something that has more in common with the Bourne series perhaps, which I love as well. It had me hooked until the end. It’s definitely more along the lines of the action thriller conspiracy than the standard detective police show.
Things have changed so much. When I first read it, it had a sort of Black Mirror-esque, futuristic quality of what if surveillance was stretched to manipulation, but real life is moving so fast that it now feels less like dystopian future and more like social commentary, and so much less hypothetical than it did at first. It brings up so many moral questions of police, society and surveillance.
What makes The Capture different?
It mixes genres: the detective show, the surveillance thriller, the dystopian vision turned social commentary. It’s contemporary and it’s now. It's very much set in the real world of Britain today, and Ben Chanan has done a lot of research so it does feel authentic.
This was apparent from my own research too. I shadowed a Homicide department in London for a week or so, and spoke to a guy who had been in Counter Terror for years. So much of what he said about that world is there in the scripts. The story feels right and it feels real, and you believe it, even though the events that are taking place seem hypothetical at first. That’s what is scary about it actually - you watch it and you believe it could happen.
Episode one of The Capture airs tomorrow, Tuesday 3 September, 9.00pm-10.00pm on BBC ONE.
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