Stars become powerboat pilots for Scotland's new maritime murder mystery series
The stars of Scotland's new marine murder mystery series were trained to become powerboat pilots to film dramatic scenes on the nation's rivers and lochs.
Nicola Walker and co-star Jamie Sives were put through specialist marine training by the producers of Annika before filming began during the winter lockdown in Scotland
The River Clyde, the Isle of Bute, Loch Katrine, Loch Lomond and the Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock were all deployed in the crime drama, which focuses on a marine homicide unit led by a witty and enigmatic Norwegian detective.
Due to be launched next month, the six-part series sees Walker’s character regularly “break the fourth wall" to address the audience directly.
Commissioned for UKTV’s crime drama channel Alibi and made by Glasgow-based producers Black Camel, Annika is based on the hit BBC radio series of the same name, which Walker also starred in and was set in Norway.
Annika is the first major series made under Covid restrictions in Scotland to go on air. Others include Trident thriller Vigil, the North Sea-set supernatural drama The Rig and the latest series of time-travel fantasy Outlander.
Speaking after a screening of the first episode in London, Walker said: “Normally when you’re an actor you get so infantalised on set. You get someone following you when you go to the loo and they almost wait outside to return you to the set.
"But we really did get these pilot licences. We can drive these boats quite safely now. We had to do man-overboard procedures and navigating lights and buoys and all that.
"We found out very quickly that walkie talkies, the Scottish weather and very fast ribs don’t work well together. It was very freeing as we were answerable to no-one for large chunks of the day when we were out on the water.
“In your head you think you’re going to look really glamorous and amazing, but I didn’t factor in how ****ing it was going to be in Scotland in January.
"Normally when it’s cold and you’re filming your vanity as an actor says ‘no, no, I won’t take the extra layers because I want my costume to look nice.’
“But Scotland made me go: ‘I want everything. I want every single item of thermal and want to wear 72 layers.’ I look like I can barely move because I’m wearing so many clothes to combat the extreme weather conditions.”
Sives said: “It was great playing on the boats in Inverclyde. We pretty much had access all areas to jump about on these fast ribs. They’d set drones up and send us out. The whole of the River Clyde is really under-used. There’s hardly a boat on it. We were basically there on our own.
Recalling the challenge of talking directly to the camera during filming, Walker said: “It was so weird and difficult on the first day on Annika. It’s the complete opposite of what you’re meant to do.
"But I really loved it and became slightly obsessed with it. I imagined talking to someone sitting at home on their sofa as if they were my silent partner in crime.
"It's destroyed me though. I’m filming something at the moment and I keep getting told off for looking down the barrel.”