— 3 June 2024

One Of The Grittiest BBC Police Dramas Has Finally Returned

— 3 June 2024
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

Back in 2022, during what we’d dubbed the “new golden age of television” that appeared to be talking flight at the BBC, Martin Freeman delivered a career-best performance in The Responder. Now the BAFTA Award-winning actor has reprised his role for the long-awaited The Responder season 2.

Based on writer-creator Tony Schumacher’s own real-life experiences as a former Liverpool cop — for those of you who somehow missed it — the first season revolved around Merseyside police officer Chris Carson (Freeman): a grizzled veteran at war with himself who has recently been demoted from the rank of inspector and partnered with idealistic rookie Rachel Hargreaves (Adelayo Adedayo).

Though balancing his personal life (i.e. impending divorce, estranged daughter, dying mother) proves to be the least of his problems.

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While on night shift, Officer Carson finds himself entangled in the murder of local drug dealer and old friend Carl Sweeney (Ian Hart); who had threatened the lawman’s family if he didn’t play ball and helped him track a drug addict named Casey (Emily Fairn). Without spoiling too much for the uninitiated, what follows is an extremely tense saga.

In the second season, between the finalisation of his divorce and horrible living situation, suffice it to say, things haven’t exactly improved for old Chris. On any front. And his crusade to become a better man is sabotaged by his decision to engage in more corruption — this time on behalf of crooked DCI Deb Barnes (Amaka Okafor), in exchange for a more comfortable posting behind the desk.

At the same time, in just six short months, Officer Hargreaves has seemingly matched Chris in cynicism for the world. Perhaps she’ll be checking into a group therapy session next door to his soon enough.

“A few months later from when we last saw Chris, he’s trying to take baby steps to help his life, his mental state,” Martin Freeman explains to SBS.

“He knows the therapy he’s getting from the police service isn’t helping him or the therapist, so he thinks, ‘My life can continue on this downward spiral, or a plateau at best, or I could take steps to make it better.’ That men’s group is a sign that he’s doing something even though he doesn’t hold out much hope.”

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Freeman continued: “I hate to use the idea of acting as therapy, but Tony and I are very lucky that we do this thing for a living that we’d do for free. However much Chris goes through in this windy weather, when it’s pissing down for 12 hours on set, I go home tired and completely buzzing, it’s a joyful thing. I go home, get fish and chips and have a bath.”

“It’s just a human story and that resonates with people,” said Tony Schumacher.

The Responder season 2 is now airing/streaming via SBS/SBS On Demand — revisit the double episode premiere now (original release date: May 30th, 2024) and be sure to tune in weekly. For those of you who need to catch up, fear not: The Responder season 1 is also currently available through SBS On Demand.

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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