Mark Addy has starred in some iconic TV shows and movies. Here, he talks about his new crime drama role, and sending the Yorkshire accent global in Game Of Thrones
If you’re one of those people who’s delighted to see the Yorkshire accent enjoying its pop culture boom in recent years, you’ve got Mark Addy and Sean Bean to thank.
Years ago, when Game Of Thrones was first in production, the pair’s decision to avoid adopting ‘posh’ costume drama accents, and instead stick to their native guns, saw the American-made sensation become something of a hotbed of ‘ey up’ rather than Shakespearean grandstanding.
“Me and Sean Bean were both Yorkshire lads on set,” recalls Addy. “And it just so happened that we did the read-through and they liked it, and asked where we were from. And that saddled everyone with having to do a Yorkshire accent afterwards!
“But it made sense in relating a fantasy world to a familiar world, with those characters in the North and the capital in the South. And it does make your life so much easier if you don’t have to worry about what length your vowels are…”
Addy has enjoyed an eclectic career on both the big and small screens, having starred in everything from comedy, to crime thrillers, and varying worlds of fantasy.
His latest role sees him stepping into the shoes of gruff, sarcastic Detective Sergeant Derek Sands in offbeat BBC cop drama New Blood, a role the actor was extremely keen to sink his teeth into.
The show’s creators originally approached him to play the part of a more restrained Inspector, but Addy was intrigued by Sands’ abrasive nature.
“He really is a total arse!” he laughs. “He gives nothing. I thought it would be fun to play.
“I’m often the best friend or the reliable character, so to play someone so unreliable was interesting.”
New Blood: ‘a different take on police drama’
Described by Addy as “a new take on an old genre”, New Blood – the brain-child of Foyle’s War and Murder In Mind creator Anthony Horowitz – is a police procedural with a modern twist.
Instead of the central copper being a world-weary, middle-aged alcoholic with an estranged daughter and a whole lot of demons, here the two main protagonists are young naive officers with very different kinds of problems.
“A body is found at the foot of a block of flats, and there’s the detectives there,” he explains, “but it’s the young copper who’s keeping the crowds back who it’s all about.
“It’s a different take on police drama. It’s understandable to young people. One of the main characters is still at home with his mum; the other is sharing a flat with these rowdy housemates.”
In keeping with this fresh approach, and the growing popularity of online streaming for TV shows, the first three episodes of New Blood are already available on iPlayer – ahead of its first BBC One broadcast on Thursday this week.
“[Online streaming] is the way it’s going and I think it’s right,” muses Addy. “It would be pointless to ignore that. We’re not going to regress. You’re giving people the option, and with this it makes sense because the three episodes are all connected. It’s one case they’re working on.
“I tend to record shows to watch at a later date, or watch box sets. So I understand the attraction of it.”
Game Of Thrones: The Musical
Speaking of box sets and TV viewing, Addy – who played unhappy monarch King Robert Baratheon in the hit HBO series – still watches Game Of Thrones when he gets the chance. Though be wary of shedding spoilers in his presence.
“I’m only at the end of series three!” he laughs. “I’m way behind! I’ve been reading the books and then catching up as I go.
“There’s definitely still something that draws you into that world. And HBO have been very good at keeping their actors involved. They asked me to do an audio thing for the Blu-Ray of season five, so you still feel as though you’re part of the family.
“My character still gets talked about, so he’s still part of the furniture.”
One of the most enjoyable opportunities came in the shape of Coldplay’s Game Of Thrones musical: a fun, extended skit for Comic Relief that is an absolute must-watch for fans if you haven’t already had the pleasure.
It features such joys as the ‘Rastafarian Targaryen’ rap, and Addy moaning about Sean Bean owing him a fiver (a line Addy came up with himself).
“It was great. I was sent a little script that Richard Curtis had done, and asked if I wanted to spend a day in the studio with Coldplay. I wasn’t going to say no.”
Addy’s is a wide-ranging CV, taking in popular Saturday evening shows like Atlantis and cult films such as as A Knight’s Tale with Heath Ledger.
But one movie, the story of a group of unemployed Sheffield steelworkers which became a global sensation, still holds a special resonance two decades on.
The Full Monty at 20
Next year, The Full Monty will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
“It’s 20 years this year that we shot it,” reflects Addy. “It was a huge turning point for me. I’d gone as far as I could in the theatre without becoming a big name, so I had to go and get myself on TV. I didn’t think film was an option at that point.
“I did a few sitcoms, had a few good parts, and then The Full Monty happened and blew the doors off. It saved me a lot in shoe leather.”
He admits that no-one, including himself, could have predicted the film would go on to smash the international box office and net four Oscar nominations.
“I couldn’t imagine it playing outside of Yorkshire, to be honest. It was Northern humour.
“But then you read about how well it did in Japan or Peru. It had something that struck a chord with people. It was about humanity, and the problems everyone struggles with.”
It’s tempting to wonder if the original cast, including Robert Carlyle, would be up for a reunion next year – and possibly a recreation of that famous dole queue dance?
“I would! Bobby’s doing Trainspotting 2 at the moment so he could be all sequeled out!
“But it would be great to celebrate it. It’s still in people’s consciousness.”
New Blood starts on BBC One this Thursday, June 9 at 9pm. The first three episodes are available on iPlayer now