The first series of gritty crime drama The Tower in 2021 was praised for the dark human storylines that ran alongside the investigation into the deaths of a young woman and a police officer who had fallen from a London tower block.
And as the show returns to ITV1 this week, two of its actors – Tamzin Outhwaite and Tahirah Sharif – rather alarmingly reveal they could draw on real-life experiences to play some of its grimmer scenes.
Tamzin joins the cast as recovering drug addict Cathy Teel for the second series, which again stars Game Of Thrones’s Gemma Whelan as DS Sarah Collins and is based on a novel by former Met police officer Kate London (a third series is being filmed).
While Cathy seems to be getting her own life in order, the same can’t be said for her daughter Georgina, who’s living under the coercive control of her boyfriend Matt Brannon.
Actress Tamzin Outhwaite from Ilford, East London, reveals that she drew upon her own experiences for emotional scenes she had to play in the show
As the domestic violence spirals, Tahirah’s character PC Lizzie Adama investigates – and Cathy is caught in the fallout.
‘There were emotional scenes that required me to go to places I don’t normally go to, but I could draw on my own life,’ says former New Tricks star Tamzin.
‘I’ve had a lot of pain and endured a lot of loss, and with the human emotions involved in this drama I felt like my own life was the research.’
Tamzin, whose mother died suddenly a few years ago and who endured a highly publicised break-up with actor husband Tom Ellis in 2013, admitting at the time that she was ‘brutally broken’, was literally left feeling bruised by the demands of The Tower 2.
‘One day I couldn’t understand why my body was aching, then I remembered that the previous day I’d slid down a wall and sobbed many times reacting to awful news. Basically my body was traumatised.’
Tahirah, who was BAFTA-nominated for her work in the first series, could call upon an experience that was frighteningly close to home for the domestic violence scenes. ‘Pretty much the same thing was happening next door to me,’ she says.
‘The dad was domestically violent in the way this guy is in The Tower. The woman didn’t want to press charges against her partner and it made me realise that it’s never quite as simple as it seems.’
The four-part second series follows another case as well as the domestic violence – a cold case involving the disappearance of a young woman on the day of Princess Diana’s funeral 25 years earlier.
It’s DS Collins’s task to find out what happened – even though her bosses think she has little chance.
‘Sarah’s joined Homicide Command and she’s been fobbed off by her new boss,’ says Gemma. ‘But she sees the cold case as a challenge, a mystery she can solve by looking at it in a different way.’
Tamzin joins the cast as recovering drug addict Cathy Teel for the second series, which again stars Game Of Thrones’s Gemma Whelan as DS Sarah Collins (right, with Jimmy Akingbola as DC Steve Bradshaw)
Also returning are Jimmy Akingbola as DC Steve Bradshaw and Emmett J Scanlan as DI Kieran Shaw, who was having an affair with Lizzie Adama in the first series. Sarah Collins’s trademark orange duffle coat will not be back though.
‘I used that in series one to cover my pregnancy but now it’s gone back to props, having done a very fine job,’ laughs Gemma.
That was a blessing as the cast had to endure blazing heat while filming near Manchester last summer in a building dubbed the Stockport Pyramid, which doubled as the police station.
‘It was a great space but it had no air-conditioning and the higher you got the hotter it got,’ says writer and executive producer Patrick Harbinson.
Very apt for the sizzling new series of The Tower.
- The Tower, Mon-Thu, 9pm, ITV1 and ITVX.
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