Northern Ireland can add another classic crime drama to its already weighty repertoire as Bloodlands, directed by Jed Mercurio, hits screens tomorrow evening.
Set over four episodes, the series focuses on detective Tom Brannick (James Nesbitt) who, when he discovers a possible suicide note in a car left in Strangford Lough, feels it could be linked to a previous case.
In a country where peace is tentative, Bloodlands explores the dilemma between whether doing the right thing to honour past injuries is the right thing for those currently living in Northern Ireland.
Lorcan Cranitch - a familiar face from Cracker, Fortitude and a host of crime dramas - plays Jackie Twomey, Tom's friend and colleague, due to retire, and who, for professional and personal reasons, doesn't want to be involved in Brannick's cat and mouse game.
Having filmed in Northern Ireland on several occasions, he describes the differences of working now to his former roles.
"Any kind of police-based dramas that I'd done before in the north, they centred specifically around Belfast. Bloodlands is too but the feeling that I got, which may have had to do with the production values, it was the kind of story that could fit into a lot of other jurisdictions. There's a real Scandi drama feel off the whole thing and that's inevitable because we've been so influenced by them these days.
"One of the first dramas I ever shot up in Belfast was Life After Life," he says. "I remember shooting a scene in Milltown cemetery in 1993 or 1994. We were in the middle of shooting a scene and the next thing, an army chopper was just hovering overhead to see what's going on. It was quite obvious what was going on, there were arc lights, vans, we weren't at a funeral, we were shooting a scene in a graveyard and it didn't involve a funeral.
"The locations manager had to make an immediate phone call to somebody else who had a hotline to the local HQ to tell them, please shift your chopper because the sound people can't do anything while you're making a racket. There are those kinds of logistics which were different."
He describes Belfast as a "different place altogether" compared to former acting gigs and that now, the city is "so much more open to living and working in".
In Bloodlands, Jackie's described as the unsung hero that can be found in every organisation or area of community life. For Lorcan, character is paramount when selecting a role.
"The character is where I'm drawn to first because the plot and the storyline go through so many processes from the time they're conceived until the time they're executed over which I may not have very much control, if any.
"My gig if you like is to try and get the character nailed down and see what happens to them. The two go hand in hand to a huge extent. For as long as I've been in the business, the attraction for me has always been the variety in what you could do as an actor. The challenge is always welcomed and that's the thing that really draws me to it.
"You could be playing a 17th century French policeman one day and an Irish priest in Galway the next. That's what I love about it, I love the variety of it all."
For his role as Bloodlands' Jackie, the more Lorcan looked at him, the more his fascination grew.
"His background is very different to what I imagined it was when I read it first - these things emerged as we went on. To be honest, in this case it wasn't so much playing the part, there were a lot of carrots dangling in front of my nose for Bloodlands, not least Jed Mercurio, Jimmy (Nesbitt), Pete Travis (director) with whom I'd worked before. All of these things, in this case, had a big influence and I thought, "I think so, I'll have some of that". I'm very fortunate that Jackie is such a well-developed character in the story."
As he gets older, roles offered have changed - "I certainly play a lot more grandfathers these days… Romeo has gone" he laughs - but what comes is more time to focus on the differences between characters.
But for someone who's in an industry where the show must go on, how was lockdown for Lorcan when the shows were unable to be produced on the same scale?
"Curiously enough, last year I had quite a busy time. I had done quite a bit of theatre, two plays, one of which was a one-man show back to back. And before that was a film in Irish, before that there was a bit more TV and then there was another small piece of film as well. It was quite a busy run, then, that brought me right up to Christmas and then Bloodlands started immediately after Christmas.
"And as it happened, because of that sort of quite strong work run, I was feeling that I'd love a little bit of a breather. I thought I would spread the word to my agent that I might take a couple of weeks off to recharge the battery and see where I am. But that was a year ago and I'm still on that break," he laughs.
"I've had tiny little things, bits and pieces and it's tough. It's tough for everybody. Our industry, and especially the live arts, has just been decimated.
"I think the biggest worry is not only the sort of financial costs but the emotional costs plus how we would regenerate the momentum that had been gathered over the years.
"I spent a good third of last year, doing theatre, for example, back to back, and I'm not sure that I'd want to go into a theatre right now even if they say it's all fine to do that. That kind of confidence needs to be instilled back into the whole community. It's not just our industry but in all the hospitality industry. When are we going to go to a gig again? When are we going to have our dinner out?"
He speaks of the need to relaunch the industry, one in which he's worked for over 30 years, and to almost relearn what it takes to do his job.
"I was fortunate to do a small little bit of theatre over Christmas which was unheard of. I'm sure I was one of very few actors in Ireland who actually got to do a bit of live performance as part of a Christmas show. It was a one-to-one thing, Theatre for One, so you've one actor and one audience member. We were in a booth separated by a Perspex sheet.
"They were only short little monologues and I was lucky enough to get to do that, and there were other actors involved doing similar monologues. I remembered having making the point is that my body - and this is really scary - needs to be reminded of what that experience is like, what that fear is like, what muscles need to react to a specific event, what the experience of telling a live story is.
"I was in fear to be perfectly honest with you, in fear of letting that slip, that goal, losing it."
Lorcan echoes conversations he had with other actors, of the importance of the arts on mental wellbeing.
"The live experience involves a huge contribution on the part of the audience. They don't necessarily realise it at the time but they are - which is why it's totally magic - for the time they're together, 300 strangers, most of whom have never met each other, and they all respond as one towards what they're watching or what they're hearing. That affects the soul of every one of those people and that kind of medicine, if you like, you need to protect and start vaccinating people with as soon as we can."
TV and film work is cautiously returning but with that come the loss of more organic performance, due to restrictions, every move now has to be choreographed in advance.
"The few pieces I've done since we finished with Bloodlands, anybody who was superfluous to the actual shot, not just the scene but what was in the frame of the shot, anybody who was superfluous to that was told to leave the room," says Lorcan. "I found myself acting with the desk lamp because I was asked if I minded if the other character wasn't there and I said no."
When asked if he looks fondly on his work, some, he says is with 'fond moments,' others with 'buttock clenching embarrassment.'
"We have all stuff that we're happier with and prouder about," he says.
"I wish I knew then what I know now, just in terms of working with a camera. Not that I haven't got loads more to learn, that's for sure, but at the same time, there's basic stuff about which I just wish I could have had more coaching. I wish somebody had said to me, 'Don't do that.' I feel I'm only really getting to grips with what's required," he laughs, "and retirement's around the corner. It's a funny medium and people are taking to it like ducks to water - it's just taken me longer to do that.
"I have some very fond memories of stuff I have done, way back since Cracker days, stuff with Shackleton and [Kenneth] Branagh. For example, three years when we did The Dig [2018 film] up in Antrim, that was fantastic, I loved doing that."
Lorcan says he wouldn't have a leg to stand on if his son wanted to become an actor.
"However, at this point, he's quite cynical about the whole thing because it's what we do for a living. If he's arguing with me, he'll throw it back at me, 'You're just acting, you're acting'," he laughs. "In some ways he's got a point.
"I wouldn't dissuade anyone from doing it. When I started out it was a very busy industry and now it is just so much more saturated than it ever was.
"We can make a short movie on our cameras. Certainly, working on a camera is not something that is alien to people in the way that it was.
"If somebody was going into it I would just really, really try and encourage them to be as much involved in the live end of things as well as television. And also to remember that our job is to tell stories. We haven't written the stories but we are storytellers and it is not a profession that gets sucked up with fashion and fame and notoriety, it has a very important currency in the world and in society. It's not just a variation of Love Island."