"Up In Smoke" -- The NCIS team analyzes what secrets could be in the hands of a terrorist targeting the Navy when a high-tech bug is found inside a probationary agent\'s tooth, on NCIS, Tuesday, May 8 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Mark Harmon and Brian Dietzen Photo: Jaimie Trueblood/CBS ©2012 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

GOSH, I have to give Brian Dietzen props for sticking around for nine seasons before being promoted as a main cast member on NCIS in the 10th instalment.

Tenacity evidently pays off in the end!

A very unassuming person, Dietzen is one of those individuals who, aside from being a consummate professional, brims with positivity and enthusiasm.

A theatre graduate from the University of Colorado, the 36-year- old unashamedly admits: “I love watching it (NCIS)”.

Without many TV and film roles to brag about – not that he is the show-off type – he recalls his journey with crime drama.

“My predecessor Gerald Jackson was shot. They needed someone to come in and support Dr Donald “Ducky” Mallard (David McCallum), who is the chief medical examiner. It was actually a one-day role on the show, initially. And David and I hit if off really well. Then they asked me back the following week, and the following.

“The character kept growing and, 10 years later, I still have a job there,” he laughs.

In playing chief medical assistant Jimmy Palmer, the writers had a bit of fun developing the character, who, for those who watch the series, will appreciate the comic relief he provides in the morgue.

Tonight asked him about Jimmy’s feet/shoe fetish and proclivity for having sex on autopsy tables.

He laughs: “Oh yeah, I remember him having an affair with Agent Michelle Lee. But he has grown a lot after that. He has moved away from his past indiscretions and become really serious with his girlfriend – now his fiancée. I believe there is a big episode in season nine where he has a run-in with his future father-in-law. But he stands up for himself. You guys will get to see him walk down the aisle. However, there are going to be some thrills along the way with the team trying to make it to the wedding.”

Touching on his character’s inclination to being reduced to a sheepish smile and sputtering foolish repartee, whenever in the company of Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), Dietzen says: “Mark is a consummate leader of the TV series. He sets the tone. He shows up before everyone and leaves after everyone is gone. He is a much more warm person, definitely more playful than his screen character.

“Over the course of a decade, I have learnt a lot from him. And I am happy to be able to call him my friend.”

As for his co-star McCallum, the actor offers: “David and I are very close. We hang out off set as well. He has been a great friend and great source of inspiration as well as a mentor. And we work together really well – that is how I got on to the show in the first place.”

He continues: “The character is growing some more. It has been a real blessing and proves you never know where your big job is going to come from. This has been a great run for me.”

Wow, talk about bagging a lucky break. Good for him!


• NCIS is on Universal Channel (DStv channel 117) on Mondays at 8pm.