Exclusive Video Interview: Stars of The Tower 2: Death Message, Whelan, Sharif, & Akingbola

The TowerToday, The Tower returned to Britbox with an all-new season entitled The Tower: Death Message, which is based on the second novel in Kate London’s best-selling series. In the new season, rookie Police Constable Lizzie Adama (Tahirah Sharif) returns to duty, where she ends up in the middle of a domestic dispute with a family with a young daughter that she will fight to protect. Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Sarah Collins (Gemma Whelan) has been transferred to Homicide, but it’s not what she expects when she not only finds that Detective Sergeant Steve Bradshaw (Jimmy Akingbola) has beat her to the division, but she is immediately saddled with a cold case of a missing schoolgirl. Collins, however, works hard to shed light on the investigation where others failed. Unexpectedly, she and Adama cross paths once again and are forced to work together.

Recently, the three stars of the series talked to SciFi Vision about the new season, including how the events at the tower are still affecting their characters, what’s to come in season two, and more.

You can watch the full interviews or read the transcript below and check out the season premiere of The Tower: Death Message, now on Britbox.

SCIFI VISION:   This second season is a whole new story and everything, but everything is really still colored by everything that happened last season. So, can you just sort of talk about how your characters are still being affected by that, how it affects both your relationships with each other and your work?

The TowerGEMMA WHELAN:   Yeah, I feel like Sarah moves on to Homicide Command after season one, and she's saying she's ready for a fresh start, and is very quickly met once again with misogyny and the hierarchy, and is given a cold case. So, she's sort of back to square one in terms of like, her baseline for the work that she's about to do in a different unit. But I think, yeah, she was deeply affected by the tower, because that was something she hadn't typically seen, even though she's been in the police force for a long time. So, I think it just sort of caused her to screw her courage even further and commit herself to her job even more, if it's possible, even more than she already was. So, I don't think she's haunted by it, but I certainly think that, as you say, it colors her. Part of the tapestry of her life is that the tower is looming in the background, and that happened, and certain things are referred to, and Lizzie is a stark reminder of that. Whenever she sees Lizzie, she sees, I think, some sort of failure and some sort of injustice, and she carries that, certainly, but I think she's also willing to give Lizzie a chance. She's also deeply affected by the fact that her relationship with Steve broke down because of that. So, there're huge elements of the past chasing her, but I think the fresh start she wanted isn't quite what she gets, because she finds Steve's already there! [laughs] And Lizzie’s still making interesting choices.

SCIFI VISION:   Definitely.

TAHIRAH SHARIF:   Yeah, I think much the same. I think the tower itself physically is still there, and that's always a very stark reminder for Lizzie. And for Lizzie, I think it is quite haunting. She’s witnessed a really traumatic event in the first series. There's not really that long of a time that has passed between the end of the first series and the beginning of this series. So, I think she's still mourning. She's still carrying that grief around. I don't think that's ever going to change, but there's definitely, I think, something that is a lot harder about Lizzie this time, potentially a bit kind of less green, maybe, because she's kind of been changed by this by this event forever. I think that's what she takes into her work this time round, although, albeit still making questionable decisions.

JIMMY AKINGBOLA:   Yeah, and I feel for Steve it's a similar version of what Gemma and Tahirah said, but I think, for Steve, also, the tower represents a really interesting point in his career that I feel like he was juggling the professional and the personal, you know, his home life, like, the kids, the divorce, and then also enjoying that, and putting himself into the work in that relationship that he had with Sarah. So, I think that's looming over him as well as the tower itself, and he pivoted, but I think there's also a sense [with] Steve of unfinished business and frustration with that. I think it's really nice that even though it's a new story that we haven't let go of the roots of season one.

SCIFI VISION:   Then, Gemma, you were talking about how she has this this new position. She has more power now. But at the same time, she sort of has to delegate to Lizzie, and now she has sort of a new partner too for part of it, with Elaine (Ella Smith). So, can you sort of sort of talk about that and also sort of her balancing, I guess, what she can and can't control?

GEMMA WHELAN:   You’re absolutely right; she's moved up, but she's still relatively a nurse in terms have like, what cases you can choose to be part of…When she's told she's got this cold case, I think obviously every part of it wants to scream like, “What the actual —?!,” but she just knows that she's got to suck it up, because that's the way it is. The hierarchy is the hierarchy…So, I think also that she feels that, like, she'll take on this cold case, and I think she's got a quiet confidence that she's going to work this out, and she's going to come back and prove that she is more than capable of anything he thinks is going to throw her off. Like almost the sort of the colder and worse the case, the more determined she'd be to come back and say, “Look, all right, I've solved it. What’s next?” So, yeah, I feel like she's tremendously dedicated to speaking to the patriarchy, really, in a quiet way, just quietly proving herself day in day out and, you know, [it’s often said] of her, “You don't give up, do you? You're unshakable.” And I think she's quietly pleased that [her boss] recognizes that in her and that she's tenacious and is here for the long term. So, yeah.

SCIFI VISION:   And I was going to say, she also sort of has to rely on, like I said, Lizzie to do some of it this time. Can she kind of let go of, I guess, those preconceived notions she has, though, to know that she can take care of herself?

GEMMA WHELAN:   In terms of that Lizzie can take care of herself?


GEMMA WHELAN:   I think Sarah is still very curious to see if Lizzie can prove herself. I think she's very much very happy to let her try and prove herself, but pretty much straight off the bat, she's making questionable decisions. And, you know, perhaps Lizzie's mess has to be cleaned up again. And yet, she's a different kind of police officer from Sarah, and what she's doing is not wrong. It's just very different and edgier and fresher than perhaps Sarah's old school, black and white moral code way of doing things.

SCIFI VISION:   Tahirah, I wanted to sort of talk to you about, how I was just saying with Gemma, in your case [your character] has more that she has to do, whether she's really ready for it or not, because she takes it on whether she wants to or not. So, can you tease a bit about that and sort of how she deals with suddenly having all this thrust upon her?

TAHIRAH SHARIF:   I think Lizzie in the same way, as we met her in season one, I think that's one thing that hasn't really changed about her character as much in season two is that she is still willing, I guess, whether it's, I don't know, an intelligent choice or not, I think she kind of removes the logic out of a lot of her decisions and goes with her emotions. I think at the forefront of that is always…“I'm going to prioritize other people's safety in front of my own.” I think that's how she approaches a lot of situations, which then leads to her ending up in quite dangerous situations at times, or potentially hampering other cases. But I think, like Gemma said, the way in which she goes about her role and her job and her police work is just very different to Sarah. There is a naivety to it, but it's also, I think, coming from a really strong place of care…In a very kind of idealistic way, that's why she became a police officer. It was to literally protect and serve her community.

SCIFI VISION:   Right, definitely. Jimmy, your character, obviously, has a new job as well, but also is sort of offered to move up maybe in a different direction. Can you tease a bit about that?

JIMMY AKINGBOLA:   Yeah, I think in the backdrop of season one Steve already had a heavy stint of being undercover. I think Steve's relationship with his work is I feel like there’s a version of it that's always been number one, which is reflected in his marriage breaking up. I suppose in terms of season two, he's been dangled a carrot. I think we meet Steve in season two, and you can see he's trying to be the father to his kids and trying to be a decent husband and trying to find a bit of balance in terms of that work-life balance. But I don't know, Steve reminds me a bit of a boxer that can't retire. I think it's really hard for him to say no to an opportunity in terms of what's been presented to him in season two, but also it comes from a place of Steve’s about the work. To be a black police officer for so long in the Met, and to have seen what he's seen and to be still in that great position, you have to really want it, and I think that ties into the thing with how he fought for Lizzie, you know, like, look, be a good cop. Stay in it; you're the future. We need to change things within, and I think Steve definitely is going to find it hard to maybe turn down this latest offer.

SCIFI VISION:   Gemma your character meets somebody this season. Can you say whatever you're allowed to tease about that?

GEMMA WHELAN:   Yeah, it's someone who has appeared briefly in her life, and I think Sarah is sort of blindsided by her frankness and her honesty and her clarity of what she wants, and therefore Sarah is sort of brought along with it. Sarah allows someone else into her life, which I think she struggles to do based on the fact that we learn something more about Sarah, which is not a secret, and it's in the books, that she lost her sister in a car accident when she was seventeen. So, I think Sara is possibly frightened to love or to trust. There're also things wrapped up in that grief for her still that we realize in season two she's never really dealt with that. So, to let someone new in is really risky for her. So, I think it's nice to explore that side of things. Not sure it'll work out, but we'll see.

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