New Scottish crime series Annika continues this week, with the fourth instalment of the detective show.
Starring Nicola Walker as Annika Strandhed, the head of the Marine Homicide Unit at the fictional Scotland Police, she is joined by Scots actor Jamie Sives as one of her co-stars.
In the fourth episode, when writer Cara Gibson is found dead under a bridge on Glasgow’s riverfront, Annika and the team are called in to solve the murder.
A darling of the tabloids, Cara wasn’t afraid to ruffle feathers, and her books have ruined careers and left a lot of lives in tatters. But which of these people would be driven to murder? And why has she recently turned her back on a successful publishing career to take a low-paid teaching job at Glasgow University?
Jamie Sives plays DS Michael McAndrews, an experienced detective and expert diver.
He says: ‘Michael is a diver first and foremost. He went to police college with Annika and imagined he was a shoo-in for the job that she gets as the head of the new specialist Marine Homicide Unit (MHU). So, his nose is out of joint. He is huffy that she has waltzed in and taken his job.
‘But as time goes on, he rekindles his friendship with her. To begin with, he is a bit spoilt, but he soon wins people over.
‘He’s quite louche, laconic, acerbic, and humorous. He doesn’t take things too seriously, but when the stuff hits the fan, he instantly jumps into action. One case involves a family member and he’s on it immediately.
He’s a good, likeable guy.’
Jamie, originally from Leith, has appeared in TV shows including Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, as well as Guilt with Mark Bonnar. The actor was delighted to shoot the series on the River Clyde.
He continues: ‘I have never spent so much time in Inverclyde. We had a lot of fun out there. There were no other boats on the Clyde, so we had the whole playground to ourselves.
‘We were racing around on fast ribs and had access all areas. We could go and do doughnuts and U-turns at high speed. It was fabulous!
‘We filmed at Ben Lomond, which was amazing. There is no better place to be. Nuclear submarines were going past, which was very exciting. The scenery is completely scene stealing.
‘It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if Ben Lomond is in the background, no one is looking at you. You can say anything you like!’
There were, however, some scary moments during the shooting.
Jamie explains: ‘In one scene, they blew up a pontoon. They had helicopters, police and fire brigade all standing by. It was a proper James Bond style explosion. My reaction to that was completely natural!
‘Being Scottish, I have jumped into a fair few lochs in my time! You have a wetsuit on, so the initial coldwater shock doesn’t hit you. It’s just a dip in cold water. And that’s apparently good for you. I do all my own stunts.’
Jamie also enjoyed working with Nicola, who originated the character of Annika on the radio.
He smiles: ‘She’s a national treasure! She doesn’t take it too seriously between takes, but as soon as the director calls “action”, she turns it on. She is very friendly and funny and terrific company. I loved working with her. I would be quite happy to work with her all the time!’
Jamie would also be happy to make more series of Annika, in which he co-stars with former Harry Potter star Katie Leung and Ukweli Roach: ‘Absolutely. I would love to do that. It would be great to spend three months with Nicola, Katie, Ukweli, and anyone else who fancied it.
‘But it does get cold. It’s the windchill factor that gets you. If there is no wind, it’s bearable, but the wind really beats you down. So, it might be an idea to film the next series in summer!’
Annika airs at 9pm on the Alibi channel, with episode four being shown on September 7.