Stephen Graham is in an odd predicament.
Back in 2006, his performance as Combo, the skinhead neo-Nazi in This Is England, was so convincing that, for months afterwards, directors shied away from offering him roles.
Then Martin Scorsese came calling, hand-picking Liverpudlian Graham – who’d previously appeared in the director’s 2002 film Gangs Of New York – to play Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire, and his fortunes changed. Next up is the lead part in Channel 4’s The Watchman, a thought-provoking one-off drama, directed and written by documentary-maker Dave Nath.
Graham plays Carl, a dad and CCTV operative whose growing frustration with local police officers forces him to intervene in a dangerous situation.
“What sets off as a normal night shift transcends into this huge thing which spirals out of control,” he explains. Being involved made him think about some of the issues surrounding surveillance and on a wider level, he thinks TV has a duty to be thought-provoking.
“”We’re making a lot of period pieces. I’m involved in a few myself, so I don’t mean to slag them – they’re great stories – but I would like to see a bit more about what’s going on now.”
The Watchman, Wednesday, August 31, Channel 4, 9pm