Interview: Wil Johnson
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Wil Johnson has played Detective Inspector Spencer Jordan since Waking The Dead started in 2000. In his late 30s, Spencer is Boyd's right hand man. Before joining the Cold Case Unit, Spencer worked for the Atomic Energy Constabulary during which time he saw a horrific murder scene. Spencer is driven, focused and extremely ambitious. He temporarily moved out of the Cold Case Unit last year following numerous disagreements with Boyd but returned when Boyd needed his help to capture serial killer Linda Cummings. Going back to when it first all started, how did you getting the role come about? Just before I went in to see them for Waking The Dead, Clocking Off had just started and I had a main storyline in that and I think it was because they saw me and they became interested and maybe thought, 'Let's pull him in for a meeting'. So I went in and did a reading and I was offered the role the next day. It was quite quick really. Across the nine series, do you have any favourite memories that stick out? Two actually. One was in series three, where I had a storyline that involved my family. Normally, apart from Boyd's character, we don't actually delve into peoples' past. In Waking the Dead it's more about the chase but in this particular storyline the case we were working on involved these bodies found in a house that I used to live in as a child and it was all connected to my past and my family. That was quite a good story for me because it was a very emotional journey as well as trying to solve the case. Also, in series five, where I got shot was quite a nice little cliff-hanger storyline. Again, it was certainly skeletons from my past that came back to haunt me in the form of a former best friend of mine who was intricately tied into the case. It was nice to finish series five and have the whole nation say 'Are you dead or are you alive?' It's very interesting being stopped in the supermarket and someone saying 'Are you dead?' and replying, 'No, I am very much alive actually – not sure about the character though!' It was very surreal! Have you had a favourite guest star that you've worked with over the series? It's really hard actually because there have been so many great actors who have worked on the show. I would have to say James Fox. He was in one of the stories and he's an icon. I only had one brief scene with him but I had a lovely chat with him and it was nice to meet him. Also, in series three I worked with Earl Cameron. He's been in James Bond and he was one of the first black actors to get a lead role in a movie in England in the fifties, I believe. So he was an iconic person to work with because of his history. That was incredible. We've just had so many I've lost track of who's who! We've had incredible people and they've all been absolutely lovely – and I'm not just saying that because it sounds good in an interview – they actually have been very lovely people, so it's been great. You play a Detective Inspector – did you go and shadow any police or do any research when you got the role? I didn't go out with any police per se but I did spend a lot of time speaking to the initial police consultant, a former Detective Superintendant David Bright who worked with the Met and Scotland Yard for 30-odd years. It's great when you hear the information from someone who was in the field. They're giving you those firsthand experiences and it gives you something when you do a show like this. One of the things I took away from him – more than the factual information – was how they cope with all the grimness. He said humour. He said you'd be surprised when you go down to investigate the situation. You might see some terrible sights but you have to share a joke with your colleagues. The only way to offset the grimness and the bleakness is to laugh, otherwise you go mad. Your perspective of the world will become totally warped. So, throughout the series there has been a lot of humour peppered, which is vital because it's so real.
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