Following the huge success of war drama The Crimson FieldScottish actor Richard Rankin is about to star in the third season of BBC One hit series The Syndicate.

Was it easy for you to relate to your character and how much of yourself can we see in your character?

I bring a lot of myself to any character but I’m quite far removed from Sean – it took a bit of imagination to relate to him.  He’s a very rural; outdoors kind of guy, choosing to spend most of his working life in the open so he contrasts immediately. On top of that, his life and circumstances don’t lend themselves very easily to me but we’ll find out more about that as the series unfolds.  

How was working with Kay Mellor? Was she very specific in the role she wanted your character to take or did you have space to create?

Kay’s a genius.  She delivers rich, beautifully drawn, complex characters  that jump off the page.  It was a privilege not only working with her material but having the experience of her direction.  She was very specific in the role she wanted my character to take, as she was with all of her characters.  These characters and the complexities and dynamics of their relationships have been thoroughly thought out with a definitive journey through the series.  That doesn’t mean to say that we didn’t also have our own creative space.  Of course we did.  It’s what we do.  I felt I had all the freedom I needed to realise my character.  Kay knew, ultimately, where she wanted these characters to be and the journey she wanted them to take.  How we plotted our way through that was largely up to us.  She’s very good that way.  She very much let us take ownership of the characters.

What do you do in your time away from the cameras?

I spend most of my time away from the camera trying to get in front of a camera and when I’m not doing that, you’ll probably find me riding horses.

Is it true you taught yourself how to ride horses bare back?

No, I think that’s a mistake.  I always wear a jacket

What’s it like living in Glasgow and London? 

Funnily enough, for the last wee while I’ve spent very little time in either because of filming so I’ve kind of forgot.  I’ve spent more time on the Virgin Pendolino between the two – which I’ve taken as my new home.  It’s very pleasant and does a good free range egg and spinach sandwich.   

Does any of that come away in your character or is he Yorkshire born and bred?

No,  Kay kindly rewrote Sean as Scottish after I was cast, so he’s very much Glaswegian. Not so much influenced by the Virgin Pendolino, but definitely from Glasgow.  I think this adds a bit of mystery to Sean.  How has this Glaswegian lad come to be Estate Manager at Hazelwood?  Or rather why?

Can you tell us what is next for you? 

I’m just finishing up on a new 4-part drama called From Darkness, which is a gripping psychological crime drama written by Katie Baxendale for BBC One.  I’m in the very fortunate position of playing alongside Anne Marie Duff, Johnny Harris and Luke Newbury who have been an absolute dream to work with, under the helm of the amazingly talented Dominic LeClerc.

Kay Mellor’s BBC One drama The Syndicate will air from Tuesday 2nd June at 9pm

Interview by Mattias Crowe
Photography by Andrea Vecchiato
Hair by Stan Watts @ The King’s Canary Salon
Make up by Paul Dominic

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