Martin Freeman: 'A Confession' is my grittiest role ever

Albertina Lloyd
Entertainment reporter, Yahoo UK
Martin Freeman as Steve Fulcher and David Cellist as DI Steve Kirby. (ITV Studios)

Martin Freeman claims his new TV show A Confession is his “grittiest” role ever.

The star of The Office, Sherlock and The Hobbit plays Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher in the ITV drama, the true story of how the police officer broke the law in order to illicit a confession from serial killer Christopher Halliwell.

Freeman told Yahoo UK: “I haven’t done a television series for a while. I haven’t done that this handheld camera, realistic, gritty context kind of show – probably ever.”

Fulcher was found guilty of gross misconduct in 2011 after he breached the Police And Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) by not interviewing suspect Christopher Halliwell under caution. Halliwelll was found guilty of murder, but Fulcher was forced to resign from the police force after his reputation was destroyed.

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Freeman - famous for likeable roles such as Tim from The Office - said he had thought long and hard before accepting the role because Fulcher’s experience made him consider the “hell” of losing your reputation.

Martin Freeman as Steve Fulcher. (ITV Studios)

The 47-year-old actor explained: “That’s what I thought a lot about before doing the role. Regardless of profession if you are held in some high esteem in your profession and people like you and you are always working and you are respected and your reputation is very secure and sound to lose that is a sort of hell I think. The reality of it.

Fulcher made the decision to break the law as he believed that victim Sian O’Callaghan may still be alive and if he read Halliwell his rights - “You do not have to say anything when questioned...” - he would not talk to him. This led to Halliwell confessing to Sian’s murder, and also to that of Becky Godden, eight years earlier.

Martin Freeman poses for photographers upon arrival at the London Film Festival Awards, 2015. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Freeman met Fulcher during the making of the programme and admitted he couldn’t help liking him.

He said: “I like him and I trust him. He seems like a very well a thoroughly decent man. You start to see things from his point of view, which is very easy to do. Most people would agree with what he did. Might not have been the wisest thing, might not have been within the police guidelines but morally it is believable.”

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Freeman said he believes Fulcher had no other option but to do what he did.

He said: “What interested me was this man was paying a very, very high price for something that I think we all would be hard pushed to condemn. It’s not like he was kicking in doors and frightening witnesses.”

Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher speaks at a press conference at Gablecross Police Station in Swindon on the murder of Sian O'Callaghan. (Photo by Tim Ireland/PA Images via Getty Images)

The actor added: “I’m not an expert in PACE so I can’t say he should have done this or that but I am a person and I am alive and I think I can’t think what else he could have done...

“What should he have done?

“That’s the question that is on a loop in my mind, Steve Fulcher’s and probably a lot of the audiences mind! People don’t just volunteer this information up.”

Interview by Laura Hannam

A Confession is coming to ITV this September.