A couple of nights ago, I escaped the pit of chilliness that was my home (thanks to a boiler failure which thankfully was fixed, finally, this morning) and toddled off to BAFTA (the academy which delivers the eponymous awards, which were all the rage Sunday night) for a preview screening of "Law & Order: UK" followed by a discussion featuring the showrunner, Chris Chibnall; the creator of the franchise - Mr Dick Wolf himself; and the two police stars - Bradley Walsh and the delicious Jamie Bamber. Guess what attracted me to that outing, eh?
It was a pretty professional screening, attended by members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and the Q&A which followed the screening was very industry-focused (still very interesting, but I regret to inform panting fangirls, there was no mention of Katee, or of bums, or sidebreasts, or of lusting after costars. It was all very L&O centred, although Jamie proved to be his usual charming and clever self, bless him. More later).
I realised after I sat down in my seat that I was at the other end of Jamie's row (cue why the fuck didn't I sit on the other side, dammit) Still, I could catch the odd glimpse down the row (about 25 seats, I guess) where he was sat with friends (and his wife, looking glam, Kerry!).
It's the first time I see him in the flesh, but I managed to contain myself, despite his extreme attractivenes - and the uncanny feeling that I was watching him on Tv. Not helped by the fact that his haircut is much closer to his pilot days than his recent floppy presidential hair - it was weird, like seeing Apollo. It's odd how he features of someone you have never met become so incredibly familiar.... He's a handsome devil, goshdarn. And his arse looks fine. Not that I got to see much of it, since he was sitting on it. But YKWIM.
The show, needless to say, was a polished and rather good production - following closely the L&O formula - half police investigation, half court case. Which meant of course that we got a lot of Jamie in the first half, and none at all in the second. I'm not overfamiliar with L&O, since I'm not much of a fan of procedurals; but I certainly wasn't bored, and the acting was pretty damn good (the guest stars in the show are pretty high calibre, which I gather is par for the course for L&O).
There's been a few comments here and there about Jamie finally getting to speak with his own accent, but amusingly (and not entirely surprisingly, since Jamie sounds fairly posh) his character, DS Matt Devlin, has quite a different accent - more working class, more North London, and I think Jamie pitches his voice a tad lower to do him. Reasonably convincing, too.
His character is this dedicated young copper, quite passionate about his work and the whole right and wrong thing (hah - shades of a certain Viper pilot, there?), who's supposed to be quite flirty although there was barely a glimpse there. We're given to understand, eventually, that he's had a bit of a tough childhood. Oh, and he's of Irish Catholic descent (as his name indicates).
Amusingly - for those of you who know Jamie speaks fluent French, or so I am given to understand, not having had the opportunity to test it out for myself - there's a scene where he haltingly tries to address a francophone African caretaker in French, only for his partner (the excellent Bradley Walsh) to take over in passable copper French, and leave Jamie feeling like a tit. I laughed. ;)
One thing I miss (from a purely shallow and viewer point of view, not in RL) is that of course there are no guns, it being London, and I do like my gung-ho, full metal jacket Jamie. Oh well.
So, yes, pretty good show and all (also my first opportunity to see the man on a big screen, and my oh my does he look good for it); followed by the discussion. Unfortunately for me, although Jamie sat on my side of the room, he was next to Dick Wolf, and Dick Wolf is not a small man. So Jamie occasionally disappeared behind him, but I did get to have some extremely fine views of his profile (I was four rows back).
He also, as ever, spoke very well and quite passionately about his work (I do love a pretty boy who is also intelligent and articulate, I tell you), and came across as a lovely guy. he was asked a couple of questions - on his return to the UK, and he was quite funny, saying he expected it to be much lower profile, maybe a couple of two or three parters before heading back to LA (he did talk about being happy to see family and friends, and hanging in London after five years away), and he got swept onto this pretty high profile franchise, with ITV making a big deal of it. It's the first time, apparently, that we order a 13-episode series off the bat here (UK seasons are typically 6 or so episodes long); and it's the first time a US format is imported into the UK, as opposed to the reverse (a taste of their own medicine is how he put it). Although L&O already has bothe Russian and French offshoots.
Dick Wolf seemed quite excited about the whole thing (well, excited might be pushing it, but very much on board, and looked like he meant it), and there was lots of talk about how different the systems are in both countries, expecially how the pace of everything is slower here - and the wigs! He couldn't get over the fact that judges and lawyers here still wear wigs!
By far the most interesting exchange was when they were discussing characters, and the fact that in L&O, you get very little character development outside the plot - everything is plot driven, and you don't ever go home with the characters (ALAS!!!), and Jamie was quite verbose on how difficult that made it to project your character. Also the freedom of building your own background, because there are only a few notes to go on. He said he hadn't immersed himself in old L&O reruns before the show (although he had got hooked since); in fact had a whole long riff on the theme of immersion and characters, and then paused and admitted he had completely forgotten what the quesiton was, which was rather endearing. he also made a rather nice point about having experience with re-imagined shows... ;)
But he gave an excellent account of the challenge that is trying to build - and communicate - a believable,strong character just through what the plot allows (he pointed out a lot of the stuff that gets left on the cutting room floor is the incidental, character development, not essential to the plot stuff); through showing what that person is like in their working life. DS Matt Devlin and his partner are friends and colleagues, they respect each other, like each other, but, Jamie said, they;ve probably never been to each other's house. And he compared it with the RL stuff - he's friends with his fellow actors, but they don't go to each other's places... (which might be quite a British touch for a lot of you, btw, but made complete sense).
For US viewers, you might take heart from the fact that Dick Wolf would like NBC to pick the show up for a slow viewing night - like Friday or Saturday - next season. He also would like longer seasons here, and possibly a crossover at some point (which Jamie looked really excited about).
What else... Ah, you'll be glad to know that Jamie was part of the selling point to NBC, apparently, because it was felt that he had the international presence to pull the viewers, presumably (or perhaps because he was the only actor the US execs might conceivably know about).
I asked no questions (they were generally more focused on the business than I would spontaneously ask, and all prefaced with "I am a Law and Order addict", which sounded a bit like sucking up to Dick Wolf, but then I am not a diehard fan of the show, so I wouldn't know...)
So, to sum it up - on the totally plus side - good role, high profile, for Jamie, he looks hotass as hell, and pretty convincing, as DS Devlin, and it's a slick, well put together show with potential for renewals. (ee, he could stay longer in London, bless)
On the not so plus side - half episodes (but a prominent role every half episode, I suppose, which ain't bad); very little character development, and it's essentually a plot-based procedural. Which, as a an of complex arcs and long-running character interactions (not to mention a very limited interest in police procedurals, unless they involve Zen-spouting, ruit-muching, has-a-complex-arc-which-runs-through-the-s
Also on the plus side - I got to see JB in the (oh so pretty) flesh
Not so good? He didn't ravish me.
Also - I realise that if I had hung around I could've seen him swanning about the bar (and taking pictures with at least one member of this very community! Small frakking world!). Instead, I dragged my arse home in the pissing rain. Eh, life.
All in all, people, not a bad show (and it does show you London, and the quirkiness of the British system, and PLENTY OF JAMIE BAMBER).
Now, I entirely failed to get bamber-filled dreams on Monday night - would it be asking too much to get some tonight? Wish me luck, people...