BBC The Responder Martin Freeman's 'embarrassing' admission as way he cracked Scouse accent unveiled

Martin Freeman has won acclaim for his powerful portrayal of Chris Carson in The Responder
Martin Freeman has won acclaim for his powerful portrayal of Chris Carson in The Responder -Credit:Dancing Ledge, Luke Varley

Martin Freeman doesn't like to go back.

The acclaimed actor has the privilege of choice when it comes to new projects and his career is made up of shows that tow the fine balancing act of short and sweet. The ethos has stood him in good favour as he appeared in the first, and potentially best, season of the anthology show, Fargo, Sherlock went on for a grand total of 14 episodes, The Office just 13.

It takes something special for the 51-year-old to recommit but this is exactly what he's done with The Responder season two, which premieres on BBC One tonight. Martin told the ECHO in an exclusive interview why he has broken his general rule of thumb to once again don the Merseyside Police officer blue and reprise his role as Chris Carson.

READ MORE: Tony Schumacher hit rock bottom before taxi ride changed life forever

He said: "When I read the pilot at the beginning of 2019, it was as a standalone one series thing. In my head, that's perfect because I love getting on, getting off and leaving people wanting more. That's my whole ethos about doing things if possible.

"I only wanted to do it if it could be better and there was a reason to do it rather than just giving the BBC more product and to make people watch more telly. I wasn't interested in that at all.

"But I was interested in the characters. I love playing Chris and I was interested to see what [writer] Tony [Schumacher] was offering up for Chris and these other characters. Always with the idea that we don't have to do it.

"It's not like we'd go to prison if we don't do another. We don't have to do anything.

"We can just leave it at that and we would have made five episodes of good television, which is five more than we mostly get to do. We're all very proud of the first and we only want to do the next one if it's as least as good and, hopefully, better."

Season two starts tonight at 9pm and picks up six months after the dramatic season finale when Chris narrowly avoided being sucked under by corruption. Although the main strands of plot were tied up in the first season, Martin said the show's complex characters and fearless way it tackles difficult moral questions drew him back for another series, which explores Chris' attempts to rebuild his personal life.

He said: "Tony likes to dip his toe into interesting waters. We get to explore interesting stuff and I'm always up for that.

"I want to do things that are complicated and messy. This show is very good at starting conversations rather than coming up with answers. I don't think me or Tony are the oracle of anything. "

Martin won acclaim for his performance as the damaged first response officer as he picked up a number of awards, including an International Emmy for Best Actor. His authentic interpretation of the Scouse accent was singled out for praise and Martin was especially honoured to get the seal of approval from Liverpudlians.

He said: "I was very proud and relieved nobody was after me. It was nice to get the nod of approval from people. That meant a lot. It was easier coming back this time. It's like riding a bike because it's just more in you this time."

In an interview with the ECHO, show creator Tony Schumacher revealed Martin would have refused to do the part if he wasn't able to master the Scouse accent. The showrunner provided an insight into his lead actor's process as he said Martin relentlessly worked on perfecting turns of phrases and trusting his ear to crack how Liverpudlians sound.

Tony joked: "He nearly got me a divorce because he'd ring me all the time. I'd be sitting with my wife after working all day and he'd phone me up going 'Theatre, Liverpool ECHO'.

"Just saying words over and over. Then when he got the sound right, we'd just chat." Tony added: "He found a lot of it with swear words.

"He said he was walking around the house just effing and jeffing. I don't know what the neighbours must have thought."

Martin admitted he was slightly anxious about doing his version of a Scouse accent while shooting the first season on location in Merseyside. He said: "The first time around I was pretty nervous, doing that accent in the city, surrounded by Scousers.

"I'm one of a few relatively non Scousers on the show. All the time you're hearing it, which is helpful, but it's also a bit intimidating. If I sound not right here then that's embarrassing, but it was a little bit easier this time having already done it."

Tony joked Martin is still hooked on the Scouse accent even after filming has finished as he contacted him to check if a word he said during filming had the correct "k" sound. He said: "It was mad because he rang me up the other night and I had to remind him he wasn't getting paid for this anymore."

He added: "The other day we were just talking about [Netflix show] Baby Reindeer. He went 'erm' and it was the Scousest thing ever so it is in him now." He laughed: "I'm starting to wonder with Martin whether he's actually from Fazakerley."

Martin hails from Aldershot and always relishes the opportunity to come to Liverpool as he praised the welcome he received during his time filming The Responder in the city. He said: "I love Liverpool and Liverpool seems to treat me very well.

"I like going out, eating, drinking and walking about. The people have been really good to me. I hate those clichés about how they're all this or all that, but people generally have been very warm and very welcoming.

"But that's also because we're making a good show."

The Responder season two starts tonight at 9pm on BBC One.

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