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I TALK TO Noel Clarke

After some time away from our TV screens, Noel Clarke is back in ITV's new thrilling four-part drama Chasing Shadows, playing DI Carl Prior.

The series is set in in a missing persons field unit that hunts serial killers who prey on the vulnerable.

I've only seen the first episode, and there's always an element of having to get to know the characters in an opening episode, but by the end of episode one we really get to know the characters and the drama really gets going, and I can't wait to watch episode two.

I recently caught up with Noel Clarke to talk about his new role, what it was like working with Reece Shearsmith and Alex Kingston, and whether or not he'll be watching the new series of Doctor Who.

First of all, tell us a bit about Chasing Shadows and your character DI Carl Prior...

It's a police procedural show, but where it's different I think is that it has so many different ways it could go. It's not your average, someone gets murdered every week and you find them. With missing people, there are so many reasons why people go missing. Some people actually want to go missing and I think that's what makes the show so interesting.

Carl Prior is a detective who's going up the ranks pretty quickly, he works exceptionally hard so he gets promoted well before his time, and thus he's younger than a lot of the people he's in charge of, including Sean and Ruth, Reece (Shearmith) and Alex (Kingston)'s characters. He gets stuff done and he's a man that works on facts. He cares about getting results more than getting into the personal aspects of it.

Essentially, when you start the show, he's not even interested in missing, that's not his job. His job is murder. One of the lines in the short trailer is "If you're involved, I will get you.", he's not a person that messes around. He's like - "I know it's you. I'm going to get you. So we can dance around all we want, but I'm going to get you." - he's more that kind of guy which I enjoy.

Sean sees patterns in things but Prior's really about - "OK, well I don't doubt you. But until I get the evidence, I can't take this guy down. I can't go after him." Ruth is the compassionate one who's always talking about the family. So I think the dynamic between the three characters really make it interesting.

What drew you to the role?

Exactly that really. I hadn't done TV in a while and it was really a chance to again do something that was slightly different. It was really about the scripts and dealing with missing people that really drew me to it, because it was so different. That interested me to it the most I think, that anyone of us could go missing today, someone can snatch you and it'll probably be around 11:30pm that someone goes - "They should be here by now." - do you know what I mean?

Because you could have drinks after work or whatever and then that's a lot of time. And then what if you're found in a year's time and you don't want to be found? You just made that decision to go and you don't want your family to know. There are so many different things and that's what really drew me to it. Oh so and so's murdered, we investigate.

That bores me. Who am I to talk about the state of TV but I know that's not anything I want to watch, and so I won't watch them. Whereas this one, the places it could go, potentially if it goes on, that interests me.

Do you think Chasing Shadows could come back again for another series?

Yeah, I think it could. I think there's a lot more legs in a show like this than some other shows, because 250,000 to 300,000 people go missing a year. And how many people do we hear about on the news? Ten max? Four maybe? Why is it that this person is more important than this person? All that stuff is so interesting. What if we're told to find someone but we want to find someone else?

Did you speak to anyone involved in missing people?

No I didn't. I was cast quite late and I think Reece and Alex went to the actual Missing Person's bureau. My character Carl actually works for the police, so he's just put in charge of them. He's early homocide and stuff like that, but I've looked at that stuff before.

There was a film I was going to do at one stage that involved a lot of missing people so I've looked at that stuff before. I knew about the stats beforehand and found it really interesting.

What's it been like working with Reece Shearsmith and Alex Kingston?

Yeah, it was really great. I'd never met Reece before, I'd seen his stuff obviously, and we really got on (laughs). He's really funny. And Alex we'd never met before either even though Doctor Who fans had deep gasms when they found out we were working together! My Twitter feed was all - "Can you tell Alex this? Can you tell Alex that?" - but we got on really well.

I think the three of us in real life are very different, and the characters are very different, but in the show the characters begin to get on, but in real-life we really got on so that was good. You like to go to work and work with people that you like. I'm about that. If I didn't like them I'd be like - "I'm not coming back for this shit." I'm not a greedy person, I don't care about money. If I don't like the people I won't do it.

As a writer, did you find it difficult to work with someone else's script?

Nah. I just switch off man. I feel like Rob (Williams) was good anyway because Reece and I as both writers would say if something didn't feel right.

That line at the end of the short trailer, I made that line up. That was all ad-lib, because I didn't want him to be the kind of guy that keep saying to Reece and Alex's characters - "No you're wrong, you're wrong." and then thirty pages later - "Oh no, you were right." So it was rewritten and Rob really worked with us.

You've done a lot of film recently, was it nice to go back and do some TV?

Yeah, it was nice. I feel like there's going to be a lot of people going - "Where has he fucking been for the past however many years?" - those people that don't get out and pay for the cinema, might be like - "Oh I remember that guy from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet" or whatever. It was nice, I don't mind. I do work that I think is good. I'd need set out and do something that I didn't think was good.

They don't always turn out the way they're supposed to, that's life. But this show I'm happy with. They cast me, they wanted to give it a different dynamic, and the three of us give it a really different dynamic to many of the shows that are on TV at the minute.

So I was very happy to do TV, and like I said, I just switch off. I can see the director stressing and I don't have to worry about it. I sit in my chair and ready the paper or get on my phone, as I'm always on my phone, and they can stress all they want! (Laughs). It's not my problem. End of the day I get in the car and head home and I don't have to worry about setting up the next day!

You said earlier how you don't really watch crime dramas, so what do you enjoy watching?

I watch a lot of films. I'm always watching films. Always. TV wise, I've just started Game Of Thrones, I wasn't going to watch it because everyone talks about it and that annoys me. That annoys me, I didn't watch Entourage until it was well into season three but I love Entourage. I won't watch Breaking Bad because everyone says - "You've got to watch Breaking Bad!" so I won't watch it. It annoys me, don't tell me what I've got to watch! (Laughs).

Right now I'm watching a lot of reality stuff like My Five Wives and that kind of shit. I don't know why. It just caught me. I think because I watch so many films, you're flicking and that TLC channel comes on or whatever and you watch crap like that.

Will you be watching Doctor Who and what do you make of the casting of Peter Capaldi? 

Who am I to say? I don't think it matters. I think the show is bigger than any actor that does it, so anyone who's a doctor, people are going to watch it.

People are going to say the same thing they always say when the new one's announced - "He's not going to be as good as the last one!" - then three months in they go - "He's the best doctor ever!" - so I'm just going to watch it as a fan and see where it goes. I like a bit of Doctor Who, I'll watch Peter (Capaldi), I'm quite looking forward to it actually.

You've spent some time working in LA, how have you found it working there compared to London?

Yeah I like it. It's nicer weather for one thing. LA's interesting. Here I'm a jack of all trades - "Oh he's doing a film again." - and I've got to jump through hoops to meet an actress.

Over there, you're a multi-hyphenate and you walk into a room and they go - "Do our actors get paid when they work with them?" - Yeah. "Do the films get made?" - Yeah. "Are they good films?" - Yeah. "Who do you want to meet?". And all of a sudden, two days later you're sitting in a coffee shop with people that you're like... It's different there.

They treat it like a business. They treat it differently, so it's definitely an interesting experience, and definitely stuff as a producer/director I'll do again, and as an actor it's not something I chase.

Finally, what films or TV shows have you got in the pipeline?

No TV shows. Film wise, we're just sorting out distribution for We Are Monster, which was at the Edinburgh Film Festival, and we were nominated for The Michael Powell Award, and we are just delivering the movie Legacy. Which is a teenage party movie, probably a bit low brow for you to be honest. I'm not in or anything, I just produced it and that's just been delivered to Universal then they'll put it out either at the end of this year or at the beginning of next.

Delivering films is not easy so I've got to do all that and then look at what I'm doing next... if anything comes up!

Chasing Shadows starts Thursday 4th September at 9pm on ITV


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