Watch: The cast of A Town Called Malice talks about British crime dramas
The cast of Sky Max’s A Town Called Malice — the latest 1980s-set crime drama from Nick Love, co-creator of Bulletproof, and the man behind The Football Factory (2004) and The Firm (2009) — has mixed feelings about whether TV shows like theirs can be guilty of glamorous criminal activity.
The show is set in the early heyday of the Spanish Crime Coast – so named because British criminals moved to Spain following the breaking of the extradition treaty between the countries – and follows the South London crime family, the Lords, who are in line for a golden opportunity on the Spanish coast.
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Nick Love says he’s interested in “creating mainstream content that celebrates working class aspirations without being condescending”, but is there a danger of glamorizing crime?
“I think maybe up to a point,” says Tahirah Sharif, who plays Cindy Carter, the girlfriend of the Lords’ youngest son, Gene (Jack Rowan), on the series.
“I don’t think this show does that at all though. Crime is obviously a major player in our show but everyone pays for it… there are always consequences whether they be emotional, physical, criminal.
“There are always consequences for all character actions.”
Eliza Butterworth, who plays Carly, the partner of Lord’s eldest son Leonard (Lex Shrapnel), meanwhile, says, “I really don’t know if there’s a danger in any of this… there’s going to be a lot of elements of [the series] Where [the audience is] they’re shocked and they’re in awe of the things that are happening, but a lot is seeped into the truth in a way, of things that have happened.
“I guess we’re not glamorizing, just telling a story that’s already been.”
80s icon Martha Plimpton – star of The Goonies and Parenthood – who plays matriarch of the Mint Ma family on the series, disagrees: “I’m having a hard time imagining what story like this didn’t glamorize [crime] on one level, from The Godfather onwards.
“This is kind of an entertainment work. He’s bringing this, hopefully, very truthful and grounded in an honest reality [story]but increasing it a bit.
“I think that’s where the fun is. And in storytelling, hey, crime happens.”
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The recent BBC drama The Gold also revisited the era, but both follow successful British crime series such as Line of Duty, Happy Valley, Gangs of London, Peaky Blinders and Nick Love’s Bulletproof, which begs the question: are we in the half? of a golden age of British crime drama?
“Well, it sure looks like it,” adds Plimpton. And the Costa del Crime era, in particular, could drive his growth.
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“There’s a long history of stories about this period in British and Spanish history,” Plimpton says. In fact, there’s even a Spanish series on Netflix called Drug Squad: Costa del Sol at the time.
“But I also think there’s something about the cultural moment right now that makes it particularly fascinating because of Brexit and these relationships that have obviously changed tremendously since the 80s between England and the rest of Europe.
“And so I think there’s a fascination with this ability to take off and start over that has been lost by England now for the time being. I hope not forever, but because it’s lost, I think the fascination is bubbling up again.”
A Town Called Malice is available on Sky Max and the NOW streaming service from 16 March. Watch a trailer below.