When they were 12 years old, friends Mark, Pru, Danny and Slade were out together in the woods. Mark’s five-year-old brother Jesse was bothering them. They were mean to him. They told him to get lost. Jesse ran away. He was never seen again. Twenty years later, Danny, now a detective, learns some shocking news: Jesse’s DNA has been found at a murder scene. Could he really still be alive? If so, why has he come back? And how is he linked to this murder? Only one thing is certain: the lives of these four friends are about to be turned upside down as they desperately search for the truth. And redemption. Lee Ingleby talks about playing Slade on the series. The Five can be seen on Friday evenings at 9pm on Sky 1 from April 15th.
What can you tell us about your character, Slade?
Slade is a bit of a loner, a bit of a lost soul and his parents are quite absent. So he knows Mark and his family very well. Since Jesse went missing, he feels protective of Mark and feels a very strong connection with him. He’s equally good friends with Danny, even though they’re opposites. Danny is a very law abiding, straight and no-nonsense character, whereas Slade’s a bit more relaxed and carefree.
Is there an undercurrent of darkness to Slade?
The thing with Harlan’s work is you think you know where you are and then all of a sudden it flips on its head. And I think that’s true of all of the characters, including Slade. I think nothing is quite what it seems throughout.
Was that element of tension there when you read the script?
Oh yeah, absolutely. That’s what’s so great about it. Of course I want to know what happens, but then there’s a little part of me that doesn’t want to know because you want to wait. You don’t want to find out the ending but you have to.
What was your reaction when you found out the ending?
We were all trying to pull out theories and I think most people got it wrong. It’s funny because when we started we didn’t quite know the ending so we were all looking at each other and then you think, “oh, what if it’s my character? What if there’s something going on there?” But it was great. It’s fun that way.
What do you think of Harlan’s work?
I think the scripts for The Five are like his chapters in a way. You get to the end of one and think, “I can’t just leave it there. I’ve got to see what happens in the next one”. The ending of each episode leaves you on a hook where you think, “ah! My God, I don’t think I can wait until next week!”
How does Danny Brocklehurst’s writing bring Harlan’s ideas to life?
He brings the relationships and the humanity to it. He’s just a great writer and he knows how it works. RED are very good at creating dramas that have a lot of humour, honesty and character. So I think that’s what Danny’s managed to do. He and Harlan worked together very well.
Did that instantly come across to you when reading the scripts?
It was just one of those scripts that doesn’t let up for a minute. You’re straight in. There’s a hook there straight away. Harlan said what interested him was how the people this tragedy affected see each other 20 years after it happened. It’s about revisiting old friendships. And that is what is at its heart, as well as a what, who, why, when and all those kind of things.
What did you make of the scale of the project?
Mark, the director, always described the project as 10 little films. And each episode is exactly that. The use of camera and the sort of frame sizes. It’s almost like all the scenes are pictures within stories within themselves. He’s not afraid for the camera to really get in there so you can see what’s going on in the character’s eyes. There’s a dynamism that you don’t even realise is there. The end of each episode leaves you thinking, I can’t wait until next week! “ while you’re filming. And then you sit back and see the results and you see what they’ve created and I think it is very different from, say, conventional British drama. It’s ratchetted up as far as it can go.
How has Jesse’s disappearance affected Slade?
He was there the day Jesse disappeared so there’s a sense of guilt and penance and he has a desire to put things right.
Did you enjoy working with the other cast members?
Yeah, they’re all great. Tom, Sarah and O-T are just three very different, but ultimately, really fun, nice people. And it makes your job so much easier when you don’t have to worry about the other people you’re working with. I’ve made some great friends on this job, both cast and crew. It’s incredibly hard work, it’s very ambitious and it doesn’t let up for a second, but everybody’s really guided each other through so it’s a good one.
Are you a fan of TV dramas on this kind of scale?
Yeah, absolutely. I love all of them. As much as I love those little tiny dramas that are about two people, I also love watching big sprawling epics. I love telly and I perhaps watch too much of it.
Do you think that TV is in a good place right now?
Absolutely. It’s getting more and more exciting. I think we went through a period where it was just slightly on the safe side but now I think programming around the world is ramping it up and TV’s popular again. It’s cool to be a part of and the stories are much more adventurous. I think we, in Britain, make some of the best TV in the world and that we have the best actors in the world, as well as great production values. We should be proud of our telly because it’s great.
Do you think that’s reflected in the diversity of projects you’ve worked on over the years?
I’ve been really lucky to have worked on some really great stuff. What more could an actor want than to have a nice diverse career and be able to tell stories with heart and soul? And I think I’ve been lucky enough to work on some of those stories. I love doing what I do.