Recommended second chance
Comedy series Vexed returns with Toby Stephens as disorganised detective Jack Armstrong. This time around, he has a new sidekick, in the shapely form of DI Georgina Dixon (Miranda Raison). The dad-of-three, who is married to Holby City’s Anna-Louise Plowman, is best-known for more dramatic roles in Cambridge Spies, Jane Eyre and Strike Back.
In the first episode of Vexed we meet Jack’s new partner, George, who he initially thinks is a man…
Yes (laughs). I think he hopes it’s going to be a man. After the last series, I think he’s requested a male partner. But I’m glad it’s another woman. I think I’d be bored out of my mind if it was another bloke (laughs).
What’s his first impression of Georgina Dixon?
Well he mistakes her for something totally different and he thinks she’s really attractive. But then it becomes clear that she’s his partner, and there’s something out of bounds about that. When he realises that she likes to do everything by the book, he thinks it’s all going to be a nightmare, because he can’t be bothered to do things that way. And he doesn’t think that method works anyway.
What’s her first impression of Jack?
I think it takes her a while to figure him out. At first, I think she’s hoping that this guy is a very good experienced detective who she’s going to learn from. Then gradually she realises that he’s really lazy, gets things wrong, puts his foot in it and is some sort of chauvinist bigoted idiot!
And is he?
Well he’s a bit naïve, which is why I hope he comes across as appealing in the end. Because if he wasn’t, he’d come over as unpleasant. He does get things wrong, but he doesn’t mean to. I think he’s fun. He becomes a fun character, and I think George realises that his instinct – which he usually works from – is often right.
It’s a comedy, so you can get away with nods to other detective shows. Did you used to watch them?
Yeah, I think over the years, I’ve watched pretty much everything. One does. And it’s such an over-egged thing, the detective drama. And what I like about this is it kind of subverts the whole genre. The whole thing is so clichéd (laughs). It’s very difficult to do anything new with it. What’s great about Vexed is that I don’t have to do anything new. It just subverts all the clichés and has fun with them, and totally turns it on its head. The actual murders are great fun. In the fourth episode of this second series, there’s one on a TV cookery show, and Georgina has to go undercover on the show. It’s such fun!
It’s been two years since the first series. Were you pleased to get another shot at playing Jack?
Yes, I was actually. It’s quite a different show for a British audience, and it was frustrating only having three episodes the first time around, to create a sort of new genre. And it took a while for people to get their heads around it. I know friends of mine, and people in the industry who really wanted it to come back. I had so much fun doing the first series, so I really hoped I’d get another chance to play him. So I was thrilled when it was picked up again and we’ve been given six episodes. It really meant we could perfect what we’d started in the first series and give it a good run. You can take it in all kinds of directions and have enormous fun with the characters. The comedy isn’t on the front foot. It builds as it goes. So I really hope people enjoy it.
Despite Jack thinking a relationship with Georgina would be out of bounds, do you think they might get together?
I hope there’ll be an element of ‘will they/won’t they.’ With Lucy Punch, (who played Jack’s partner in the first series), we were both such extreme characters and they were never going to get together. There’s only so far you can go with that because if they’re constantly arguing with one another, it gets boring after a while. Whereas now, Jack and Georgina have the battle of the sexes going on, and they’re constantly misreading and surprising each other. The audience is constantly surprised as a consequence. But they’re also as bad as each other in different ways, although they work well together. There are moments where they might look at each other in a different way and I like that.
She certainly starts to relax around him by the end of the first episode…
Yeah, like any good relationship they bring out different things from each other. And that’s quite nice and sexy as well. Miranda’s great fun to work with and what she brings to the series is great.