A former Merseyside cop, Tony Schumacher has been around for years on the streets of Liverpool. He recounts his experience in this new British detective series inspired by his years on patrol, alone, responding to emergency calls…
PREMIÈRE: What prompted you to write a detective series, inspired by your experience?
Tony Schumacher : Already, this is not a cop show! From the start, I had this desire not to make, specifically, a detective series! Because I was a policeman. I wanted to tell the human behind the cop. To emphasize the other characters he meets. Martin Freeman is great, but the idea is to tell everything that happens around him. Rather do a painting of the city of Liverpool in reality…
How much of the series is taken from your own life?
The mental breakdown that happens to Chris, the main character, I can say is something that I experienced personally. It gets harder and harder. More and more skinned alive. Afterwards, the cases they take care of are things that I really experienced, but that I modified, put together, of course, so that no one recognized themselves. I didn’t want to risk hurting people, so I made sure to keep it more vague.
Martin Freeman is The Responder, a cop never seen before at Series Mania (review)
What is a Respond exactly ?
He is someone who only delivers bad news to people. In summary. the Respond, it’s the one that happens when people are still crying. The one who begins to try to pick up the broken pots. the Respond, it is also the guy with the flashing light who arrives first on the scene. It’s very exciting. It’s an exciting job. But afterwards, to succeed in doing that for years, you have to have this ability to make sense of things. To leave work behind when you get home. What I didn’t know how to do. Me, I always needed to look after everyone.
Is that why you quit?
I quit the job because I was going crazy. I even had a little nervous breakdown, you could say. I think I was too sensitive, too vulnerable. I couldn’t take it anymore at the end. It was too much. Maybe I should have kept a diary back then, that would surely have helped me through it all. Afterwards, I think that deep down we don’t really want to think back to everything we’ve been through, in the evening, once we get home… even if the smell of corpses stays in our noses for a long time. after… Today, I took a step back from all that and that’s why I was able to write this series. I’ve not forgotten anything. I can still remember that smell…it will never go away…but I’m in a position where I can tell it easily.
Is there a message that you wanted to convey through this uncompromising series?
Chris often cracks because he is forced to work alone. There is not enough money allocated to this kind of mission. When you watch the series, you think it’s crazy to see an agent working like that, alone, at night. But in reality, 40% of them work alone. Because the partner is sick. Because the partner quits and is never replaced. Because there is not enough money. I wanted to highlight that with the series. Personally, I loved working alone. I did 90% of my career at night! But after the fact, I tell myself that if I had had someone in the passenger seat next to me, someone to talk to, with whom to discuss, with whom to digest everything we see, it would surely have been less hard.
Martin Freeman plays here with a typical Liverpool accent. Was it his choice?
Martin was ideal for us. As he is a brilliant, complex actor, he always has this desire to go for roles he has never played before. So when we offered him the job, he said yes very quickly. Then we discussed together this “Scouse accent” from Liverpool. He could have done the series without. Because after all, police officers from anywhere in England can be transferred to Liverpool. Chris didn’t have to be a local guy. But he thought it more sincere to play it like that. And I have to say it makes a perfect Scouse accent. That’s really how the people of the Mersey talk.