Watch: The cast of A Town Called Malice talk about British crime dramas
The cast of Sky Max’s A Town Called Malice – the latest 1980s crime drama from Nick Love, co-creator of Bulletproof and the man behind The Football Factory (2004) and The Firm (2009) – have mixed feelings about television Shows like their own can be guilty of glamorous criminal activities.
Set in the early heyday of Spain’s Costa del Crime – so named because British criminals fled to Spain after the collapse of the extradition treaty between the countries – the show follows the Lords crime family of south London, who find themselves in the line for a gold-rimmed one Opportunity on the Spanish coast.
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Nick Love says it’s important to him to create “mainstream content that celebrates working-class aspirations without being patronizing,” but is there a danger of crime being glorified?
“I think maybe to an extent,” says Tahirah Sharif, who plays Cindy Carter on the show, girlfriend to the youngest of the Lord’s sons, Gene (Jack Rowan).
“But I don’t think this show does that at all. Crime obviously plays a big part on our show, but everyone pays for it…there are always consequences, whether emotional, physical, or criminal.
“There are always consequences for everything a character does.”
Meanwhile, Eliza Butterworth, who plays Carly, the partner of eldest Lord son Leonard (Lex Shrapnel), says, “I don’t really know if there’s any danger at all… there’s going to be a lot of elements of it [the series] Where [the audience is] shocked and overwhelmed by what is happening, but much of it has transpired in a way with the truth of things that have happened.
“I think we’re not glorifying, we’re just telling a story that already existed.”
1980s icon The Goonies and Parenthood star Martha Plimpton – who plays family matriarch Mint Ma on the show – disagrees: “It’s hard for me to imagine a story like this that hasn’t been glamorized [crime] on some level, from The Godfather onwards.
“That’s sort of the job of entertainment. It hopefully brings this very true and is based on an honest reality [story]but increase it a little.
“I think that’s the fun factor. And storytelling is where crime happens.”
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Recent BBC drama The Gold also revisited this era, but both follow hit British crime series like Line of Duty, Happy Valley, Gangs of London, Peaky Blinders and Nick Love’s own Bulletproof – which begs the question: are we in the middle of a golden one Age of British crime drama?
“Well, it certainly looks like it,” adds Plimpton. And the Costa del Crime era in particular could fuel its growth.
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“There’s a long history of stories about this period in British – and Spanish – history,” says Plimpton. In fact, there is even a Spanish series called Drug Squad: Costa del Sol on Netflix about this period.
“But I also think there’s something about the cultural moment that particularly fascinates him about the cultural moment right now because of Brexit and these relationships, which have obviously changed enormously since the ’80s between England and the rest of Europe.
“I think there’s a fascination with that ability to take off and start over that England have now lost for the moment. Hopefully not forever, but because it’s lost I think the fascination is bubbling up again.”
A Town Called Malice is available NOW from March 16 on Sky Max and the streaming service. Check out a trailer below.