Extremely Dangerous - Production Notes (2)

Last Update: 03 December 1999
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Modern Day Gangsters

Director Sallie Aprahamian discussing the project's feel:

"It was a genre that I haven't worked in before - I tend to work in rather deep psychological dramas not involving too much action, and I thought that it would be fun to exercise my muscles in this kind of direction. I like psychological work because it's good meaty stuff for the actors, but I was quite seduced by this particular script. It brings together the working of someone's mind, someone who is in grief, who's struggling with his own head, and mixes it with all the action.

"It's the first time I've worked with action on such a scale. Most dramas these days include a stunt or two or a fight, but to actually do a genre where there is some expectation from the audience that there will be lots of fights and violence and chasing and big things, it's slightly different from having 'a slightly violent moment in episode two'.

"The two sides are very different. One is a different kind of skill and is based on technique and technicality, the other which is what I really like doing, which is working with actors, and finding moments of truth, and I think this project stretched me in both directions really.

"Someone asked me whether I thought that this was a real representation of organised crime in Britain today, and my reply was I thought that it's very rooted in drama. It has an insight into that world, but I think it's simplified it, and introduced a humour into it that creates its own brand of energy, which is very much Murray's style. That's what he writes, that's where he comes from.

"I didn't want to do a sort of socio-drama, you know the gritty reality of life on the streets of northern Britain, but at the same time I don't think that it's in any way glib about the violence of this world. I think our dramatic tension exists because our hero has lived a sort of vicarious lifestyle - he's lived like them, but he's now suffering within himself because of the jeopardy he's placed his wife and child in. It brings energetic, entertaining sides of this genre, with quite a sense of sensitivity there."

Malcolm Craddock explains Extremely Dangerous' vision of the cruel gangster syndicates:

"Nobody shouts in our production. In a lot of television drama, you have people shouting at each other at the slightest provocation, whether they're having an argument as husband and wife or in business. We have a much more controlled set of performances, all seething away under the surface. And we are talking about a man who has murdered his own wife and daughter. The stakes are very high but people don't lose their cool. Annie is a prime example of this, she's very controlled. She's panther like, ready to spring, to protect her family, whatever happens, she'll protect her dad.

"Also, Murray has written in some incredibly sympathethic lesser characters. These are key, because in a drama with a man on the run, you expect to see the gangsters, and you expect to see the policemen. I think that we've done this in a very original way, also the only friends he has in the world are the mini-cab operator and the woman who gives him bed and breakfast. They respond to something in Neil Byrne instinctively, something which makes them trust him.

"When you read Murray's thrillers, you know what a wonderful writer he is, the way he devises plot and character. One thing that stands out always is Murray's wit and there's always some charm. We want to be entertained and excited, but we don't need to be only on the edge of our seats throughout. A show like Extremely Dangerous depends on how good the action is - and we have here a very tough piece of action!"

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