Criminal Justice: Denis Lawson plays Detective DCI Faber

Denis Lawson plays cerebral detective DCI Faber

The ever versatile Lawson, last seen as Professor Fleming in BBC Four’s Breaking The Mould returns to BBC One, with an equally considered and measured performance as the cerebral DCI Faber, the senior police officer who leads the investigation into the attempted murder of Joe Miller, QC, by his wife, Juliet.

Audiences that fondly remember Denis Lawson’s performance as John Jarndyce in Dicken’s look at the tortuous processes of the law in Bleak House, will be pleased to hear that it was Peter Moffat’s, “exceptional scripts” that brought Denis Lawson back to a drama that takes a hard look at the intricacies of the law and the human cost to those that find themselves caught up in it.

“I think that fact that Peter was a practising barrister means there’s a tremendous amount of detail in his scripts and you feel his portrayal of our criminal justice system is absolutely accurate.

“Peter’s direct experience of the law gives his storytelling tremendous vigour and a compelling bedrock of authenticity, says Denis.

And, although the comparison doesn’t quite fit, says Lawson: “Peter’s writing reminds me of Dickens in so much as every single character in his narrative is really interestingly drawn and gives a different perspective on the events as they unravel. This brilliance in Peter’s writing adds to the realism and richness of tone and totally emotionally hooks you into Criminal Justice.

Denis relished playing Faber and describes him as totally committed detective with some 30 years of experience behind him, including abuse cases.

“He’s a really objective man and a consummate professional.

“Faber is the exact opposite of Sexton, his DI, who goes at the case in a much more emotional way and knee jerk way.

“Faber’s approach is quiet but totally focused. He’s interested in the context in which things happen. He concentrates on every aspect of information that comes his way – Faber’s a detail man. He’s a great observer. He misses nothing. It’s almost like Zen and the art of policing,” half jokes Denis, stressing he’s not trying to be glib about the intense nature of the drama or his character.

“Faber never looks away; he’s always watching, concentrating and thinking. Seeing what makes people tick, what makes them do what they do.

“There’s a scene when Faber is listening intently to what Doctor Rose has to say and he knows it’s significant.

“Yann Demange, our director, gave me a great note, ‘Don’t nod’.

“It sums Faber up. He’d be still and watch – he’s an incredibly subtle man capable of forensic concentration. I’ve kept my performance very spare and minimal.

“I played Faber as being out on a limb and slightly inscrutable; but always a man of deep understanding.

“An example of his insight into human behaviour and the processes of the law is at the end of episode one,” says Denis.

“Following Juliet’s confession to stabbing her husband, Faber asks the salient question: ‘Did anyone ask her why she did it?’ “

“Throughout the drama we see Faber’s a realist. He knows it’s his team’s job to gather evidence for the prosecution case, present it and then let go – others decide the final outcome.”

Then, with great subtly and without a hint of what may happen to Juliet, Denis says that Criminal Justice did get him thinking about the law governing provocation and cryptically says: “Let’s just say that from the little I know about French law I think the outcome could have been different if Juliet’s case was tried in France.”

Denis can shortly be X seen on BBC Four playing Enid Blyton’s second husband, Kenneth Darrell Waters, in Enid, co-starring with Helena Bonham Carter in the title role and Matthew MacFadyen playing Enid’s first husband.

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