Sarah Parish joins the ranks of crime-solving doyennes Brenda Blethyn (Vera) and Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect) with Bancroft.
Previously spotted in season three of Broadchurch, she slips into the role of DS Elizabeth Bancroft. A brilliant cop, she has dedicated her life to her job. However, she has an explosive secret.
The unwitting trigger is Faye Marsay, who plays Katherine Stevens, a fast-tracked recruit, looking into a cold case.
With the series conceived and written by Kate Brooke (Mr Selfridge), Parish is working with a stellar cast like Linus Roache, Amara Karan and Art Malik.
Shedding light on her character, Parish says, “She is a police detective superintendent who is excellent at her job. Her team like her. She’s confident and works incredibly hard.
“Elizabeth is very ambitious and aiming to become a detective chief superintendent. But there is something in her past she is covering up. And it is about to raise its ugly head and come knocking on the door again.
“I liked the fact Elizabeth Bancroft had so many layers to her. There was so much going on for her at any one moment. She was incredibly complex and fiercely focused.
“She was different. It’s quite nice playing someone that isn’t always redeemable.”
With the cold case unearthing a bit of Bancroft’s past, she offers, “Laura Fraser was killed some 27 years ago. It appeared someone, believed to be under the influence of drugs had broken into her house, taken some of her jewellery and killed her.
“It was a particularly violent murder. Laura was stabbed many times. But the case was never solved and is still open. A young detective called Katherine is now working on this old cold case. Elizabeth really admires Katherine and her tenacity and thinks she is a very good police officer.”
On working with Adrian Edmondson, who plays Supt Clifford Walker, Parish notes, “They are very different police officers. Cliff does things very much by the book. Very staid. Ticks all the boxes. Whereas Elizabeth is quite a maverick and much more hands on, has her own team, does her own thing.
“The two of them don’t get on at all. Cliff thinks he should get the detective chief superintendent job because he does things in what he views as the proper way. While Elizabeth pushes the boundaries a little too far out at times.”
Of the action scenes, she shares, “I did do quite a few stunts. I was pretty black and blue at the end of some weeks just from doing a lot of falling over and other things I like doing all my own stunts.
“We have a chase scene which is very exciting. When we had action scenes our director John Hayes would storyboard them in great detail. Which is so good for an actor.
“Because it’s all got to be filmed the wrong way around and you want to see how it is meant to unfold bit by bit. Then you know exactly what you’re doing, when you’re going to do it and what it’s going to look like on screen. He was brilliant.”
With this being an exciting time to be in a television drama, she agrees, “It’s the golden age of TV drama. You’ve got film people coming into television. TV writing is where it’s at today.
“If you go to the cinema it’s just full of big blockbuster films. There’s not a lot of nuance in film at the moment. Whereas TV drama has taken a front seat and it’s where everyone wants to be.
“That’s why we’ve got series like Big Little Lies with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. Things with really big stars in. Because they know they are going to be able to tell a proper story again. Like they used to be able to do with films”
This four-part series will leave viewers on tenterhooks with its solid writing and fascinating characters.
* Bancroft airs on ITV Choice (DStv 123) on Monday May 14 at 8pm.IOL