James goes on run to be cop

Geraldine James as Chief Constable Carolyn Jarecki in Black Work.
Geraldine James as Chief Constable Carolyn Jarecki in Black Work.

No one looks their best while running, which is why Geraldine James thought she’d have a trial run at home before she had to jog in front of the camera for her latest role, in new police drama Black Work.

Unfortunately, her loved ones weren’t as supportive as she’d hoped.

“I was terrified, so I kept doing practice runs at home and going to my family, ‘Does this look all right?’ And they just said, ‘You look completely idiotic.”

But the show must go on, and although she planned to do the absolute minimum required, James found her mojo on the day, out ran the camera - and has been running ever since.

“I used to run quite a lot and then I stopped. I’m very faddy. I go through fads of doing things and I hadn’t done any running for a long time, but as a result of Black Work, I’ve started again. It’s life imitating art in this instance.”

In the new three-part drama, James plays Chief Constable Carolyn Jarecki, who’s worked her way up through the ranks.

“She’s quite a complex character, which I liked. The way she runs her police force is interesting, as is her professional relationships with her second in command William Hepburn [Douglas Henshall] and young WPC Jo Gillespie [Sheridan Smith].

“She’s not just a bossy policewoman. She has to be politically astute. It’s like being a mayor. She has to balance what she can and cannot pursue. It’s very topical.”

Carolyn’s put in a difficult position when Ryan (Kenny Doughty), an undercover policeman who’s married to Jo, is shot dead in mysterious circumstances. While she wants to come out and support him in public, she doesn’t want his undercover operation to be jeopardised.

The drama explores how well we know the people we love, with many secrets and surprises woven through the series.

“Carolyn keeps secrets and she discovers things that have been kept secret from her,” reveals James, who was born in Maidenhead and has one child with her actor husband, Joseph Blatchley.

Although she describes herself as “very good” at keeping secrets, she admits she doesn’t keep any from her husband.

“I talk to my husband about everything. If people say, ‘Please don’t tell anybody’, I say, ‘I can’t involve my husband in that. He has to know’. He’s party to everything but he doesn’t talk about things. So my discretion levels are fairly high.”

lBlack Work begins on ITV on Sunday, June 21