Judge John Deed and George Gently actor Martin Shaw is set to return to BBC One next week in role “darker” than any his fans have seen before. In Apparitions Shaw plays Father Jacob, a Roman Catholic priest drawn against his will into the world of exorcism.
What kind of character is Father Jacob?
Jacob is a priest who is just trying to do his job, which is to promote people for sainthood. He is undeniably a good man. His bosses feel that he embraces exorcism but he is actually quite wary of it. He feels so strongly that we are all susceptible to the forces of Satan, that there are times when it is the only option.
What attracted you to the role?
Well I had the original idea to play an exorcist and I’ve felt for a long time that we need something very different on television. Nowadays it’s very difficult to find producers who are willing to take a chance on something that challenges the norm but Tony Wood at Lime Pictures was prepared to take that chance and we’ve managed to create something that I think viewers will like, but will also force them to think and engage in the programme rather than view it passively.
This is quite a different role to what viewers will know you for, do you enjoy challenging yourself with different characters?
I not only enjoy it but I think it’s absolutely vital. It’s very easy to forget that acting is actually an art form and you have to train for it. You do need to explore, it’s all too easy just to stay in the same place and stay in the comfort zone
Who do you think is the most intriguing character in Apparitions?
I think all of the characters in Apparitions are very complex and multi-dimensional. Michael (Rick Warden) is particularly intriguing because when we first meet him he is so fully possessed that he doesn’t actually know who he is any more.
His actions, his words – none of it is really him and there are times when he actually wants to be saved from himself. Liam is also an interesting character as initially many people probably wouldn’t consider him to be possessed. He represents the anti-religious views of many people and he is a good father, although he is possessed by demons I feel that the audience will empathise with him in a way that just isn’t possible with Michael.
How have you found filming?
I’ve been working with a great cast, crew, producer and director so you can’t really ask for better than that. We’ve all worked incredibly hard to ensure that we do justice to this fantastic script and create something that is believable.
Which scene did you find most difficult/interesting to film?
The exorcism scenes were possibly the most difficult, particularly as in one of them I was connected to a high wire! I had to be thrown across a room and hit a wall with quite a bit of force so we needed the special effects to make it look completely real. The second exorcism was also interesting as everyone involved in the scene was so submerged in the words and the actions that their reactions were almost instinctive – it almost felt like we were doing it for real!
Does religion and spirituality play a part in your personal life?
Religion doesn’t play a part in my life but spirituality does. I follow a spiritual path which is right at the centre of my life. I believe in God and I have a huge respect and love for all religions so from that respect it plays a part in my life but not the man-made, ceremonial and controversial aspects of religion.
BBC One, Thursday 13th November