‘Too Close’ is more than a gripping mini-series

Monday:Too Close; (ITV, 9pm)

Sunday, 11th April 2021, 5:00 pm
Dr Emma Robertson an Connie Mortensen
Dr Emma Robertson an Connie Mortensen

Cast your mind back to the days of The Bill.

ITV’s long-running police drama was a mainstay on our screens for a long time, and Clara Salaman spent two years pounding its beat as DS Claire Stanton. She arrived as Sun Hill’s answer to AC-12, investigating corruption and becoming DS Don Beech’s nemesis.

Fast forward 20 years and Salaman is still working in TV, but in an altogether different capacity – as a screenwriter. She’s also penned a number of novels under the pseudonym Natalie Daniels, including Too Close, which she’s now adapted for the small screen and is about to be shown over three consecutive evenings.

Salaman still has plenty of friends from her acting days, and one of them was thrilled to be asked to take on one of the leading roles.

“I have been a friend of Clara’s for a very long time,” says Emily Watson. “I first read this before the original book was published. It’s always a slightly nerve-wracking moment when a friend says, ‘I’ve written something. Would you read it?’ But it was really interesting. Soon after that it was optioned it for the screen, so I’ve been with it from the get-go.

“It felt like the right moment for Too Close. It’s quite a self-contained piece driven by two very interesting women and it caught the flavour of the moment. It’s the sort of stuff I love, absolutely character-driven, that minutiae of examining the mind.”

Watson plays Emma Robertson, a forensic psychiatrist whose latest case focuses on Connie Mortensen (Denise Gough), a woman accused of a heinous crime but who claims she can’t remember committing it. Connie is also intelligent and charismatic – and while Emma tries to figure out if she’s faking a mental illness, her patient manages to turn the tables by getting under her skin.

“In another life these women would be equals, they would be friends, ” explains the Oscar-nominated star. “There’s something about the sort of psychotic state Connie has gone into that has made her immensely perceptive. She can immediately sense where Emma’s weaknesses are and starts to dig and probe.

“Emma is provoked by Connie and struggles to maintain her professional approach. Connie starts to uncover the rawness at Emma’s centre and their relationship goes way over that line. They become far ‘too close’, emotionally intimate. And it’s very volatile and dangerous, but within that Emma eventually makes some progress with Connie.”

Filming took place in London, including the now closed Holloway Prison, with strict social distancing rules observed: “I was tested for coronavirus every three days. We filmed for seven weeks and we didn’t have any infections and we didn’t have to shut down. Nobody tested positive the whole time on our cast and crew.”

As a result, all involved pulled together to create one of the most gripping mini-series we’re going to see all year: “There is a real thriller element to Too Close,” claims Watson. “It’s a detective thriller in a way and a race against time to uncover the truth of what actually happened. It has a real energy to it.”

Whether Emma will return to our screens in a future series remains to be seen, but Salaman is certainly a name to look out for – and not just because of her small screen past.

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