Two more interviews with Tom Riley have been shared online today. The first is from Huff Post, in which Tom chats about the sensitive issues in Dark Heart. Read it in full on the site, which handily has a list of numbers to contact for those affected by the show's storyline.
According to lead actors Tom and Charlotte Riley (who are quick to point out they are not related, unlike their characters), the shift between channels has changed the way it has been able to deal with certain topics.
The biggest difference between the two versions of the show is the way it tackles the ethics surrounding vigilantism, particularly the “shades of grey” around taking the law into one’s own hands when justice isn’t served. The original looked at that far more graphically, through acts of violence that could only be so much as mentioned post-watershed, and definitely not depicted.
Speaking to HuffPost UK, Tom explains: “When the ITV Encore version came out initially, it was very much for another audience – we were able to show the graphic underbelly of crime in London, which [writer Chris Lang] had researched and we knew existed.
“The implications of what happens are still there, but we’re steering away from the more graphic things that might push audiences away from a story that they could actually get something from.”
The series follows DI William Wagstaffe (Tom Riley), a member of the police whose parents were murdered when he was a teenager. We watch a series of killings unravel, which sees accused - but not convicted - child abusers murdered in intricate and gruesome ways. Will and his team investigate the murders, while also gathering evidence on the families whose children made the allegations.
Meanwhile, Will’s sister, Juliette (Charlotte Riley), deals with an abusive relationship, and is in conflict with Will about about how they are both processing the death of their parents. The tough theme of child sex abuse is something Charlotte says is “really difficult” to bring to life on screen, with Tom adding that the new version of the pilot finds ways to work around restrictions it faces airing on the main network - but both were keen to ensure the series leads to practical and cultural change for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
“I think it is really important that it’s dramatised,” Charlotte explains. “And I think that’s why you’re seeing it more in dramas now. It’s something that has been buried so deep in our society for so long that I think collectively we’re all dealing with. “Trauma, it appears from my understanding and research, is something that often people learn to deal with on their own rather than seeking help for. PTSD is difficult to deal with and talk about anyway, but when the trauma is to do with sexual abuse it’s even more taboo – it leaves the victim with shame that isn’t their own. “It’s important that more people become comfortable with talking about it... Making it a part of our art in our society is one way of doing that, perhaps,” she adds.
Tom continues: “It was one of those scripts that when I read it, I was very much aware that we were dealing with something potentially very sensitive here. “The thing that really interested me was the complex morality of the parents’ reaction to what was happening,” he says. “These people who had been accused, but not necessarily convicted, had been allowed to go free… there wasn’t the conviction that they believed that they were owed.”
The second interview is for The Daily Express, which declares that Tom reveals spoilers. Tom has never revealed a spoiler. Ever. So, ignore the nonsense headline. The rest of the interview may or may not be accurate, given the source. Read it in full on the site. There are no spoilers, and no plot twists mentioned.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk about the new series, Tom said: “It’s going to be six episodes, three films over six episodes. “The episode that went out on ITV Encore is not the final film. The version that’s going to actually air is going to be a little less gruesome.
“We’re aware that at 9pm, younger eyes could find this. So although we’re still implying the more graphic nature of these crimes, I don’t think we’re going to force them into people’s eyes quite so early on.”
Tom also discussed trying to keep viewer’s attention with the amount of new content available, with the actor suggesting the industry is now a “double-edged sword”. He continued: “There is a huge amount of content which is overwhelming for people to watch coming from every angle, TV, the internet, your phone. Dark Heart spoilers
“There is always something else to watch. If it doesn’t hook you immediately, you tend to drop it as something else is around the corner. “It’s a good thing as far as choice is concerned and as far as work is available for actors and crew.
“What it does take away is the ability for things to build slowly like they used to be able to where the first few episodes of something would be a slow burner and the result of that was you’d get to know the characters more and then you’d be more invested in them when the s**t really hits the fan later on in the series.
“But in this case, now you really have to hook people or they abandon ship. I don’t think that’s necessarily the best thing. But at the same time, there’s so much good stuff that I guess you just have to be better.”
He went on to add: “The nature of the way the TV industry has changed now is the script comes and it’s great and beautifully written. Chances are, like Meryl Streep’s already attached herself to it. That’s always a sign of a ‘real’ one.
“TV has evolved dramatically over the last 10 years and audiences I feel are getting smarter. They have more of an appetitive for more character pieces. “They don’t want to be underestimated and want to be able to work out pieces themselves and not be told what to think. I think that’s a gigantic change for writers and networks.
“There’s always been that belief that we know what people want, but maybe everyone has to really work as they have an appetite for something more mature and richer. “Which is great because you can really dig down into things and take risks which you wouldn’t before.”