The BBC’s new crime thriller Better, starring Leila Farzad as DI Lou Slack, premiered at the Everyman Cinema in Leeds on 8 February. All episodes of this fascinating new show are available on BBC iPlayer from today, Monday 13 February.
Leila Farzad (DI Lou Slack), Andrew Buchan (Col McHugh), Zak Ford-Williams (Owen), Olivia Nakintu (DC Esther Okoye), Junade Khan (DS Pritam Khan), Samuel Edward-Cook (Ceri Davies) along with writers Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent, and executive producer Lucy Dyke were all in attendance. I had the chance to interview them about the show and their experiences filming.
Better is one of a kind
The cast and writers all believe Better stands out from other crime dramas. Sam Vincent especially believes their treatment of themes such as redemption and good vs evil are unique:
“Redemption isn’t a single moment that comes as a lightning strike and changes everything from bad to good. It’s a battle and a struggle. This terrible thing happens in her (Lou’s) family life and it begins a process of this conscience awakening within her. It’s the story of her struggling against that, battling her own conscience and trying to negotiate with it, trying to suppress it and ultimately giving into it. It’s about the high price that comes with redemption.”
Samuel Edward Cook agrees that the show has something unique to offer the audience. He says that “It’s unlike most ‘whodunnit’ police shows. It’s not your typical cops and robbers.”
Leeds is crucial to the show
Better is right on time to be a part of Leeds’ year of culture, which celebrates all of the amazing things the city has to offer. The cast had a lot to say about Leeds and what it means to the show. Brackley called the city “the unnamed character” of the show that “is crucial and informs everything”. Junade Khan, who plays DS Pritam Khan, said that Better is “a love letter to Leeds in a way” and repeated Brackley’s idea that Leeds is more than just the setting and a “character in the show”. Writer Sam Vincent said of Leeds:
“We wanted to set it somewhere that has its own identity. It’s a city we’ve not seen quite as much of in dramas, unlike London. It was our executive producer (Lucy Dyke) who suggested Leeds. It’s got a cosmopolitan vibrant feel and at the same time there’s so much diversity.”
All the cast were very passionate about their individual characters. It seems that they all believe their characters were extremely well-written and realistic. Leila Farzad loved being a part of a female-led show:
“I don’t think women are written like this enough. Lou is a very layered and complex woman who wasn’t always that likeable and was pretty cold and callous, but also a nurturing mum and wife. She has this sense of humour too, I loved the character when I first read it.”
Andrew Buchan, who plays Col McHugh, a complex character that isn’t quite good or bad, loved playing his character for the challenge:
“I think what you look for as an actor is a character to challenge you and make you a bit afraid. The challenge is one of the reasons you do it. Credit to the writers who wrote this fascinating character who doesn’t appear to be one thing or the other, maybe somewhere in between. He’s a joy to play.”
Zak Ford-Williams was also very passionate about his character and the representation he offers disabled people:
“As a disabled actor I’ve found that I can sometimes read scripts through, and the characters aren’t necessarily bad but they don’t ring true. This character stood out to me. Sam and Jonathan have talked to me about it a lot. My character is disabled and the way he navigates life feels very real and I really like that.”
Q&A with the Better cast
After the screening of the first episode of Better audience members had the chance to ask Leila Farzad, Andrew Buchan, Lucy Dyke, Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley some questions. People could also send in their questions on Twitter using the hashtag #BBCBetterPremiere.
Leila Farzad gave some very good advice to an audience member wondering how to become a successful actress. She told the aspiring actress to “just observe” and that “there are all sorts of characters everywhere you go that you can put in your pocket and take with you for a role.”
The Better premiere was an amazing event for all those lucky enough to get tickets. The show is right on time for Leeds year of culture and a chance to celebrate this amazing city. Make sure you catch this gripping new thriller now, on BBC iPlayer.