Gillian Anderson and Eve Myles return to TV in non-sci-fi roles for The Fall and Frankie
The respective stars of The X-Files and Torchwood play a homicide detective and cheery nurse for BBC series
Eve Myles and Gillian Anderson made their names in hit sci-fi shows. Now, they’re back on small screens in very different dramas. Brian Donaldson witnesses the results
As a serial killer gently bathes the corpse of a woman he has just strangled, the investigating officer on the murderer’s trail is getting intimate with a burly Belfast cop in her hotel room. It’s not a scene for the faint of heart but The Fall has plenty of those as Gillian Anderson makes her crime-solving return to the BBC. Meanwhile, in a very different part of tellytown, Eve Myles appears to be having an absolute ball, throwing about some daft dancing and handing out warm looks and caring smiles as the eponymous district nurse in Frankie.
For two actresses best known for roles in major sci-fi affairs (Anderson was the iconic Dana Scully in The X-Files and Myles played Gwen Cooper in the anagrammatic Time Lord spin-off, Torchwood), their new jobs couldn’t be more different. Once more, Anderson is required not to crack a single smile as Stella Gibson, an ice maiden London Met DSI dropped into the very macho world of Belfast policing to crack these sinister crimes, while Myles is a laugh-a-minute party girl in Bristol who is just about able to take her job seriously in the face of patients who are suffering from dementia or are heavily pregnant, all against the backdrop of the government’s austerity programme (‘I laugh at cutbacks: I sneer at them,’ defiantly announces Frankie).
‘Professionally, the public have a slightly fixed image of me as “Gwen Cooper”, so to play something very different was what I have been looking for,’ says Myles. ‘This was a rare opportunity to play a title role and I felt I could have lots of fun with her.’ Fun is the other f-word which permeates everything in Frankie, even when she is constantly at loggerheads with grumpy Dr Evans (Jemma Redgrave). ‘Frankie doesn’t get on with everyone, who does?’ notes Myles. ‘But through the series you will see a personal struggle between her and Dr Evans. They have very different approaches to “care” and are the complete antithesis of each other. It’s a strained professional relationship to say the least.’
Strained relationships are also afoot in The Fall, where Stella Gibson steps on more toes than a Strictly no-hoper. But it’s her hunt for the crazed serial killer of professional thirtysomething single women which makes the drama so compelling. And this is not so much a whodunnit? as a why, when and where’s he going to do it next? given that we meet the murderer from the off. By day, loving father-of-two Paul (Jamie Dornan) is a bereavement counsellor who commits his grisly crimes at night when his wife believes him to be doing extra shifts at the end of a phone. The Fall is as bleak as Frankie is light, but both shows give Anderson and Myles very different parts to get stuck into. For the viewer, the choice is between watching a woman who receives her wit and wisdom from Ken Bruce or witnessing a murderer finding sexual release from a laptop slideshow of murdered women.
The Fall, BBC Two, Mon, 9pm; Frankie, BBC One, Tue, 9pm.