Home Entertainment Blue Lights series two promises ‘absolute chaos’

Blue Lights series two promises ‘absolute chaos’

Blue Lights returns to screens on 15 April

“Series one was about what it takes to do the job and I think series two is about what the job takes from you.”

The co-creator of Belfast-based police drama Blue Lights has described its second series as a “worthy successor”.

Channel 1

The drama follows a batch of newly-qualified officers navigating policing in a post-conflict Northern Ireland.

Blue Lights – which was co-created and written by Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson – launched to more than seven million viewers last year.

This article contains spoilers from Blue Lights series one

“There’s a sense that you feel when you come back for a second season that there’s something that people have liked, or even loved,” Lawn told BBC News.

“It’s always up to the audiences, you can never take anything for granted.”

Lawn said the latest offering of Blue Lights continues to explore the “relentless, grinding daily pressure” of policing in Northern Ireland.

“There’s something about it being here with the particular pressures and dangers they face that make people across the water [Great Britain] intrigued by it,” he explained.

Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson
Declan Lawn (left) and Adam Patterson are the writing duo behind Blue Lights

The February 2023 shooting of Det Ch Insp John Caldwell in Omagh, County Tyrone, was a reminder of the threat still faced by police officers in Northern Ireland.

During almost 30 years of violence known as the Troubles, 302 police officers were killed.

Series two takes place one year after the death of PC Gerry Cliff who was shot while on duty at the end of series one.

“The death of Gerry was calculated for us because we knew it was going to be the genesis of series two,” Mr Lawn explained.

Adam Patterson added: “The whole creative team made a conscious decision to move the story a year on. Part of the reason for that is that if we had picked it up right away then every story would have been consumed by Gerry and we needed the actors to go on different journeys.

“In a lot of ways he still lives on in many of our characters but by moving the story on a year it allows us to look at different parts of the police and parts of the city.”

‘He’s getting into it’

The passage of time has also allowed for some character development, according to Nathan Braniff who portrays PC Tommy Foster.

“He’s getting into it a bit more, he’s progressing,” Braniff said.

“The thing about Blue Lights and what makes it different is you’re going very in-depth to these characters who are rookies, and that’s something that hasn’t been done before.”

Christopher Barr Nathan Braniff and Katherine Devlin
Christopher Barr Nathan Braniff and Katherine Devlin return as Tommy and Annie in series two

Siân Brooke also feels her character, PC Grace Ellis, has become “much more experienced in the job” but said her home life has been turned “upside-down”.

“The world that Declan and Adam have created has expanded even more and you begin to understand the complexities of the crimes the characters are encountering in their day-to-day jobs,” she said.

“The stakes are high. It will be quite explosive, moving and an authentic reflection of some parts of present-day Belfast, but audiences can still expect those comedy beats alongside the serious side of the story.”

BBC/Two Cities Television/Todd Antony Grace Ellis (Siân Brooke)
BBC/Two Cities Television/Todd Antony
“Now we know who these characters are, we dig deeper into their lives and understand why they react in certain situations,” says Siân Brook

While viewers may look forward to welcoming familiar cast members back to their screens, there are also some fresh faces to connect with.

Seamus O’Hara, who starred in the Academy Award-winning short film An Irish Goodbye, joins the cast for series two.

He plays Lee Thompson, a Protestant from east Belfast who becomes entangled in a loyalist feud which causes “absolute chaos on the streets for our officers”, according to Lawn.

“After serving in Afghanistan he sees a different kind of war on the streets of Belfast,” O’Hara explained.

“He very quickly identifies a new enemy – drugs – a threat to the well-being of his community and he goes after that with everything he’s got.”

BBC/Two Cities Television Seamus O'Hara in Blue Lights
BBC/Two Cities Television “Lee cares deeply about his people and has real pride in being a Protestant from East Belfast,” says O’Hara

The actor said he researched “a world of tradition” to ready himself for the role to ensure he had no “preconceptions or assumptions about that community”.

“A fellow actor took me on tours of Belfast so that I could look at it with fresh eyes,” Seamus continued.

“What I wanted to discover most of all was what Lee was most proud of as a unionist man and as soon as I started to explore that it pushed me in the right direction.”

Christopher Barr Andi Osho
Christopher Barr Sandra Cliff is dealing with the murder of her husband Gerry and is “no longer behind the custody desk”, according to actor Andi Osho

Blue Lights was in the top 10 new drama series of 2023 across all broadcasters and streamers, and the biggest drama series in Northern Ireland in 2023.

In February, the BBC ordered two more six-part series of Blue Lights.

“It’s really unprecedented thing for a series to be commissioned for series three and four before series two goes out,” Lawn said.

“It helps enormously to develop a series four… [there’ll be] certain things we’ll leave hanging at the end of series three.”

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