TV

The other side of Bronn

Many eyes, some icy blue, will be on the finale of this series of Game of Thrones.

One of the more popular characters is Bronn, the sarcastic mercenary and pal of the Lannister brothers.

The actor behind him is Jerome Flynn. You can catch him in an omnibus showing of his other hit show, Ripper Street.

Ripper Street is a crime drama set in the seething backstreets of Victorian London.

Flynn plays Sergeant Bennet Drake, one of Inspector Edmund Reid's notorious H-Division - the toughest police district in the East End.

Charged with keeping order in the blood-stained streets of Whitechapel, Reid (played by Matthew Macfadyen) and Drake find themselves fighting to uphold justice and the rule of law.

But always in the background lurks the fear of Jack the Ripper - is he back for another reign of terror?

Here, Flynn talks about his time on the series.

How would you describe Ripper Street?

It's a police drama but it's a very early Victorian London police drama and that makes it stand out. It's got a swagger about it which is what made me want to do it. And the richness of life in Victorian, East End London is very much kind its canvas and what makes it interesting to play. What it was like to be a policeman in those days is very, very different to now.

PHOTO: BBC

What makes it and pulls it apart for me from a modern police drama is you've got all these mirrors of today's society. All the same issues we have today but in that period which is very, very interesting.

What is Sergeant Drake's story?

I think he had been in the army for quite a long time from his 20's. And I've got a feeling that Inspector Reid had some kind of influence on his life before he actually joined the police force. It is Reid who persuades him to come along. He's a very loyal man and especially so to Reid. People have called him a bit of a pitbull but I think that's unfair myself.

He's more of a refined, muscle head.

He's been institutionalised quite early on. I think there was some kind of care home and then the army and then the police force so that's his family.

Essentially he's quite a lonely man, but I think he's longing to have a life like his Inspector Reid. You know, to be happily married and have that couched around him because it's something he's never had.

What is the dynamic between the three main characters?

Drake would do anything for Inspector Reid. He's like his Colonel and he's an example of a successful, strong, upright moralistic man. So I think he idolises him quite a lot and is extremely loyal to him.

And then Jackson (played by Adam Rothenberg) comes into the picture but I don't think Drake is at all pleased about that or about how keen Reid is to get Jackson in and to ask his advice and use his expertise.

I think there's some jealousy underneath. There's a certain American swagger about Jackson that Bennet Drake, I think would like to have but wouldn't admit that to himself. Jackson's off drinking and whoring and not trapped by the system.

Bennett, on the other hand, is trapped by the system and thinks that's a good thing and the best way to be. And yet he's wound up by Jackson. I think he sees in him a man he'd like to be, a part of him, that has been locked up.

What most excited you about the project?

It was the richness of characters and the richness of life at that time. That and it's almost got a western feel to it. It's not like everybody knows what they're doing. There is a freedom of life at that time. There's less control.

And London at that time was very much out of control. The police hadn't been there long.

It was kind of almost a joke trying to bring law to those streets because it was a lawless place.

What do you think is the appeal of the series?

The element of having Jack the Ripper almost like he's in the piece and yet he's never there. The legend that he became in his own lifetime. The reverberations of this. The fact that he was never caught.

Deep in our psyche that's where it all started and that's where we join Ripper Street.

Jack has just killed the last of his known victims and yet the fact that he was never caught means there's something incomplete in this bit of London psyche. That is kind of haunting and informing the whole piece.

What were your favourite moments on set?

I did some boxing, which is the first time I've actually done boxing on screen I think. I remember when I was, I don't know, 14, I went for my first boxing class and the guy who was teaching me came up and the first thing he did was whack me really hard on the nose. And that was it. I thought, sod you for doing that. And I stopped boxing and it's not something that I've taken up since. But it was fun to be raging bull for a day even if I say so myself.

What are your best memories of the other cast members?

The actresses are really lovely in this show and I get some nice scenes with Charlene McKenna, who's playing Rose. I enjoy my scenes with her.

It's nice to have break from all the usual Bennett routine. Bennett doesn't say a lot. He doesn't feel a need to as Jackson and Reid tend to do most of the talking.

Jerome Flynn and Charlene McKenna in Ripper Street
Jerome Flynn and Charlene McKennaPHOTO: BBC

But if they need somebody beaten up then Bennett Drake tends to do it. So it was nice to have something other than that place to go to.

I mean he falls crazy in love with Rose, and it's quite heart-breaking but it's very nice to play.


Catch all five series of Ripper Street, available exclusively on BBC First (StarHub Ch 522) and BBC Player when they premiere in Singapore on 31 August.

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