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Adjoa Andoh on The Red King

Adjoa Andoh on The Red King

The actor tells us about Alibi’s eerie new crime series and how Bridgerton’s Lady Danbury would find life on the remote island of St Jory

By Charlotte Briggs, Staff Writer

Things are not what they appear on the island of St Jory. That much is evident to police officer Grace Narayan (Anjli Mohindra, The Lazarus Project) when she meets its extraordinary locals led by Lady Heather Nancarrow (Adjoa Andoh, Bridgerton). And it’ll soon be clear to viewers to because The Red King is unlike any other detective drama you’ve encountered before.


Created by Toby Whithouse (Being Human), produced by the team behind Happy Valley and filmed in Newcastle and Northumberland, this star-studded series has all the traditional ingredients of the crime genre, such as a knotty police investigation, thrilling twists and a killer cast.


But the addition of haunting folk-horror elements intertwined around a strange cult and its revered pagan God “The Red King” makes this series a thriller with a difference.



As the six-parter begins, Grace’s rigid principles earn her a remote posting on the Welsh coast. St Jory has long policed themselves according to its own rules, after the island closed its borders and began the True Way cult in response to the Spanish flu outbreak a century earlier. But when Grace discovers a body relating to a cold case, her investigation reveals sinister secrets that threaten to break the community apart.


And if the compelling storyline or the stunning scenery aren’t enough to hook you in, then the starry line-up certainly will be. Starring alongside Mohindra are Marc Warren (Van Der Valk) as a bereaved father, Mark Lewis Jones (The Way) as a retired local police officer and Jill Halfpenny (The Long Shadow) as mainland investigator DCI Ann Fletcher.


Plus, of course, Andoh – who’s been brilliant in everything from Casualty to Doctor Who via Liar and The Witcher and is an established theatre star, besides her highest-profile role to date in Netflix’s Bridgerton – as the potentially shady Lady Heather. 


Don’t miss The Red King which starts at 9pm on Wednesday 24 April on Alibi HD (CH 114). In the meantime, we sat down with Andoh who shared her thoughts on The Red King and if she could ever see herself in the shoes of a detective.


What first drew you to The Red King?

The script. I love Toby Whithouse’s work and I've known him since he was writing for theatre decades ago. The crime is on point but the series is also funny, scary and profoundly moving. There’s also this idea of a stranger who comes into town, walks into the pub and it’s like walking into the saloon where the doors are swinging. All those tensions I really love. I think of The Red King more as a western than a procedural in that way. It’s got that quality to it. And I liked where we filmed in beautiful Northumbria. It was a really happy job.


What can you tell us about your character?

Lady Heather Nancarrow is entirely invested in the wellbeing of St Jory. The island has sort of been presided over by the Nancarrow family for generations. She’s taken over managerial duties since her parents passed away and she wants Grace to understand who’s in charge. If she doesn’t know everybody then she doesn’t know how best to keep the tourism coming in, to keep everybody happy.


Could you ever see yourself playing a detective?

All day long. I love reading crime novels. And I think a good detective series is a terrifically great drama device. You can have conversations about whatever you want to talk about as long as you keep the crime top-notch.


This series largely centres around folklore. Is this a subject that interests you?

I love all folklore. I grew up in a tiny, sheep-farming, one-street, two-buses-a-week community in the Cotswolds and we had all those rural traditions. Last year, I directed Richard III which was set in the West Country and we had Morris dancing, maypoles, wreaths and masks. When I was researching the play, you can see a mummer in the beribboned mummer’s costume in Shropshire and it’s the same costume if you go to India, East Africa or Carnival in Trinidad. Land people celebrate land and seasons in pretty much the same way – on stilts with bells around their ankles, banging sticks, stomping on the ground and jumping about. Everybody does the same thing. There’s something about that which I find fascinating.


How do you think
Bridgerton’s Lady Danbury would find life on St Jory?

Oh, she’d find it marvellous. She’d be in the pub, do lots of country walking and find out about all the traditions and get stuck in. And she likes the outdoors too. There’s always lots of intrigue with small communities too, whether it’s in the court or on an island. There’s always something swirling. So, I think she’d love all that too.


You’ve worked extensively across film, theatre and TV. Do you have a preference?

I only have a preference for good work. Life is too short and there’s lots of wonderful work out there and lots of amazing people to work with. And I really don't mind any of the mediums. They all demand different bits of your skillset and I like the challenge of that.


When can I watch The Red King?

The six-part series begins on Wednesday 24 April at 9pm on Alibi HD (CH 114). Each episode will air every Wednesday thereafter and episodes can be found in On Demand.


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