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Page last updated at 07:54 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009
Red Riding trilogy to air on TV

David Morrissey joins an all star cast for Channel 4's new big budget drama, Red Riding, a series of three feature-length films set in the 1970s and 80s in Yorkshire. The actor, who played the Duke of Norfolk in The Other Boleyn Girl and appeared in The Doctor Who Christmas special last year, plays a copper racked by guilt over corruption, brutality and perversion of justice.

David Morrissey as Maurice Jobson

Your character is quite complex because you start off on the bad side and then realise the error of your ways. What was it like to play Maurice Jobson?

What happens with my character is I think he becomes a copper for all the right reasons. He really believes in his job and once he gets into the force he gets this mentor, played by Warren Clarke, and my character really loves Warren's character. He really thinks he's a great copper and he's slightly led astray by Warren. He's not able to live with that guilt and he's not able to do his job the way he wanted because he's sold his soul really.

They're great stories, complex characters, flawed people, directed by three fantastic directors
David Morrissey on Red Riding
As he strips away at the layers of what he thought was a little bit of corruption he realises that, like being a little bit pregnant, that doesn't exist. He sees the corruption for what it is and it gets worse and worse the more he looks at it and I think he makes a choice where he sort of just goes under a little bit. He certainly goes into denial about it and he convinces himself that he hasn't done what he's done, in some way.

In our last episode in 1983 he has to confront the reality that he's done a terrible thing. One of the terrible things he's done is he hasn't spoken up when he should have spoken up. And each episode has a little title and our title is Bad Things Happen When Good Men Do Nothing and he is that good man, he just didn't do anything and he should have done.

And that's what attracted me to him, the fact that he is complex. He is a very flawed person. He's not brave. He's frightened. He could be this maverick sort of hero and he just doesn't have it in him. I found that very interesting to play.

How did it feel to be part of such an all star cast for Red Riding?

Andrew Garfield as Eddie Dunford
Andrew Garfield plays a rookie journalist looking for the truth
There's a great, great cast that they've got together, some I've worked with before like Peter Mullan and Paddy Considine, who I really love. I think they're both really fantastic actors. But also actors I really wanted to work with like Sean Bean and Warren Clarke. And actually all the cast are brilliant.

But none of us would be here if it wasn't for Tony Grisoni's scripts. And that's the reason we're here, they're great stories, complex characters, flawed people, directed by three fantastic directors. But we're all here because it's a great piece of writing from Tony and that's why we all decided to do it.

Red Riding is a very British production with a very realistic British storyline. How did that feel?

I don't think all the things happened. But I think there's some fact in there. But it is a work of fiction. You wouldn't want to lose sight of the fact that it's three dramas. It's not factual in any way.

Of course there are times in it when factual things happen but it is a drama as far as the West Yorkshire Police Force is concerned. All of us are made up characters. But what's great about it for me is, from my memories of the mid 70s and early 80s, for me it was a very exciting time because there was some great music happening at that time.

Sean Bean plays John Dawson
Sean Bean plays John Dawson, a corrupt businessman
My memory of it is of having a ball. But looking back on it I realise that it was quite bleak. We were always looking for places to hang out and go and have a drink.

Now you've got a Starbucks on every corner. It's very difficult to find places you can't hang out. Whereas for us it was very weird. But I really loved growing up in the 70s and early 80s, although it was a tough time. But it's full of recognition for me.

Did you enjoy going back in time, driving the cars and getting dressed up?

I loved my car. I drove an old Rover. I though it was great. I so wanted it but the guy was so proud of it. That was great. But it adds to it. Also, the other thing that's great for any dramatist setting something like this in the 70s and 80s, is that people are uncontactable. There wasn't emails, we weren't all Blackberried up. So information can hang and people can get lost and they get into dangerous situations without calling for help. I think that's why dramatists have really latched on to those times because it's an easier time to have suspense.

The first part of Red Riding is on Channel 4 at 9pm on Thursday 5 March.

David Morrissey was talking to Newsbeat entertainment reporter Chi Chi Izundu.

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