Belfast Telegraph

Why coroner's romance is dead

Fans of BBC One drama The Coroner love the will-they-or-won't-they chemistry between Claire Goose and Matt Bardock's crime-solving characters. But, the pair tell Jeananne Craig why the former flames can never, ever get back together.

Filming on location is notoriously disruptive, but residents of South Devon couldn't have been happier to see the cast and crew of BBC drama The Coroner return to make series two earlier this year. "Shooting does bring quite a lot of chaos, with vans and trucks and places you can't walk, so although it can be quite fun, it can be quite intrusive to people's lives," says Claire Goose, who plays Jane Kennedy, a coroner in the coastal community of Lighthaven, who's returned to work in her hometown after a failed relationship.

"It was a relief that they were all really pleased to see us."

And no wonder. Traffic to the Visit South Devon website was up by 44% when the beautifully shot first series debuted in 2015, and the next instalment promises to be just as picturesque, with scenes filmed in Dartmouth, Dartmoor, Torquay and Salcombe.

Despite the beautiful backdrops and daytime slot, there's plenty of grit to this investigative crime drama.

The second series sees Jane once again joining forces with her former childhood sweetheart Detective Sergeant Davey Higgins (Matt Bardock), this time to investigate a lethal skydiving accident, a killer big cat on the moors and the discovery of a baby's remains, among other sudden or unexplained deaths.

Davey might be married to someone else, but they've never quite got over each other, and while the chemistry between them is palpable, romance is unlikely to be rekindled. "We know the moment they get together, we'll lose interest in them," admits show creator Sally Abbott, who has previously written for EastEnders and Holby City.

"If we got together, one of us would have to go off a cliff," says Bardock, who, like Goose, has also worked on The Bill and Casualty (though at different times).

"You have to drip-feed it, so you're in control of that relationship. Because it can run away and you've got nowhere to go."

This series, viewers will get more of an insight into the pair's relationship, and find out why it ended.

"It's very different to what Jane thought happened, so there are these vulnerable moments between them and very sad moments where it's a case of, 'What if they'd known at the time? If they'd just been honest about it and spoken about it, what could have been'?'" says Goose, who was raised in Norfolk.

"You learn that they were quite naughty and quite playful when they were in their teens. They would go and break into things and smoke a joint.

"You see flickers of that, they sort of bring out that childishness in each other," she continues. "There's a moment where they're trying to find some information and Jane just starts climbing over the gate and Davey asks, 'What are you doing'? She says, 'I'm just looking for someone to ask for directions', but is actually breaking in. So they've still got that element of playfulness about them."

When asked how they would fare in their respective characters' jobs, Bardock admits he'd be a "hopeless copper".

"I'd be letting everyone off. Especially the speeding tickets..." the Surrey native says.

"It's interesting, because I think Davey's got much more of a sense of right and wrong. He's quite principled really, and it affects the whole of his life and every decision that he makes," he continues. "He's a bit more black and white than I am, but also I think he's constantly having to question that, because there are other elements, like his relationship with Jane. He's a man of dilemmas."

Goose, meanwhile, admires Jane's talent, and her sense of empathy.

She adds: "I think any cases to do with children are probably very difficult to deal with. And also you're dealing with families. So what I like about Jane, although she's very driven and is very dedicated to her job and finding the truth, she's equally got to be very compassionate to the people she's having to talk to."

While the coroner is clearly very good at her job, "pretty much everything else in her life she's winging" - including her relationship with her teenage daughter, Beth (Grace Hogg-Robinson).

"She does get quite consumed in her work to the detriment of her daughter sometimes. Beth, in this series, is far more disobedient and wayward, she doesn't listen and goes off and does things. She's probably crying out for attention because her mum's not there. As much as Jane keeps going, 'You're grounded, you're grounded', she's not really looking at her as a child and dealing with her."

Both actors are parents themselves (Goose to daughters aged four and seven, and Bardock to a daughter aged eight).

"My little girl loves it and I don't feel like I have to police it too much. She's constantly watching re-runs," says Bardock.

That said, the pre-watershed timeslot doesn't mean the drama has to be dampened down, Goose insists. "It's been sold worldwide in evening slots. It was number one in Australia, it's going out at 7.30 on a Saturday night, so it works in every slot really," she says. "It's what you're left to imagine."

The stars' children came to visit the set during half term, and it's clear both actors enjoyed their time shooting series two.

The Coroner, BBC One, Monday, 2.15pm

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