The Version Interview... Mark Strepan on BBC One's New Blood
Created and written by bestselling author and screenwriter, Anthony Horowitz, New Blood is a bold and surprising seven part investigative drama for BBC One, produced by Eleventh Hour Films and directed by Anthony Philipson (Our Girl, My Mad Fat Diary, 24 Hours in A&E).
New Blood sets out to show a unique side of modern London through the eyes of two outsiders, Stefan and Rash, junior investigators for the Serious Fraud Office and the police respectively, brought together by two seemingly unrelated cases. In their first BBC primetime roles, Mark Strepan (The Mill) plays Stefan and Ben Tavassoli (No Offence) plays Rash.
Stefan and Rash are opposites in almost every way. What they do share are the same frustrations with life - underpaid, unappreciated and undermined. Lumbered with huge university loans, they can’t afford to buy a house and have little or no job security.
New Blood will see Stefan and Rash come up against the uber-rich and powerful: corporations, individuals, governments and the new breed of criminals who hide behind legitimate facades and are guarded by lawyers.
As their friendship is cemented across the series they come to understand that by quietly pooling resources and combining their different skills they make a formidable crime-solving force. And at the same time they might be able to help each other up the promotional ladder - if they don’t get themselves fired along the way.
Interview with Mark Strepan
How would you describe New Blood?
New Blood is an action-filled crime drama that unravels as you go along. You see the world through two young outsiders who are like rebels, but with a cause. They go against the grain of their job, which is a police officer for Rash and for my character, Stefan, the Serious Fraud Office. They go against the code of conduct and put themselves in these situations where they’re playing Russian roulette with their lives in order to get justice.
What would you say is at the heart of Rash and Stefan’s relationship?
They’re trying to get justice and that’s what binds them. It’s a bromance. It’s also about big corporations and fraud and the gap in society where on one side you have the rich and powerful and on the other, people who are just trying to make it. Rash and Stefan represent the young voice that wants to do something about the unfairness and injustice of living in London and the world.
How would you describe Stefan?
He’s impulsive and passionate. He’s a doer not a thinker. He believes in people and wants to end inequality. It makes him sound like he’s a crusader but he’s not, he’s just impassioned. He’s Polish and passionate about his heritage. He loves where he’s come from and has a very strong connection to his family. What motivates him the whole time is getting justice, but he’s also a lot of fun. He has a drink, parties, gets in trouble and is always getting Rash in trouble too.
How did you feel when you got the call to say you had the part?
After the third audition I remember walking to the tube and it was one of those moments when I was just so happy. It was just like this weight had gone and I felt happy but then my agent rang me and said, you need to go back in again and instantly all that excitement and dreaming about the part dissipated. I was numb. And then she went, but they want to offer you the part. They want you to read with other 'Rashes'. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t elated because for some reason I’d put it to the pit of my stomach and also for some reason until I’d found Rash I didn’t feel like Stefan was there. And then I met Ben, and we did a read, and got offered the job and from there it was woohoo!
How did you find working with Ben?
I don’t feel every actor can get on because they have different personalities and different ways of working. Ben and I have different ways of working but somehow they mesh. I think in real life, he’s Stefan and I’m Rash. But working with him was great. We had a lot of fun and we just tried to bring in what we had off screen, on screen, and not to change it too much. It was new for us anyway because when we met each other it was the start of the bromance. It is a bromance.
What attracted you to New Blood?
I’m really excited about it. It’s fast paced and there’s a real edge and darkness to it. There’s a real sense of danger about the world, but there’s a real truth about fraud and crime and people whose lives are being ruined by injustice and that’s down to the writing. Anthony is a genius at creating these stories. I remember when I first read the script I didn’t know what was going on, I was trying to work it out and I think that’s half the joy. It just feels fresh and urgent and exciting.
How relevant do you think the storylines are to today?
It feels very current. It feels like these types of stories are in the newspapers and media every day. We focus on pharmaceutical fraud, we look at charity and how the landscape of London keeps changing, and whose decision it is to make these choices to build new buildings. The stories feel like they’re of now, happening right now every day.
How do you think people will react to it?
My hope is that people watch it, enjoy it and are just entertained. That’s all I want from it. I want to put a smile on their faces. I want people to get involved, enjoy the bromance. You get a real sense of justice, these two people really going for something, making mistakes, being ballsy, getting it wrong but just doing something rather than talking about it - they’re going for it. That’s enthralling and hopefully entertaining.