The actress plays DS Amanda Drummond in the latest page-to-screen adaptation of the Scottish novelist, Crime, a six-part psychological procedural thriller, coming to ITVX, that engenders a battle for the soul.
“Being Scottish, he is an icon!” jokes the 32-year-old, born in Perth, Scotlandand grew up in Scone and Dundee.
“I was first introduced to his work through Trainspotting the movie, and then I went back to the books. I was like, ‘Who is this? What is this? This is amazing!’” she recalls. “And when I was in drama school, they made us do the famous ‘Choose Life’ monologue from the movie.
“So to be able to get it back now, do it right and really work on his job the way he wanted it done, it feels so special.”
Based on Welsh’s 2008 novel of the same name, Crime, the sequel to his previous novel Filth, follows team DI Ray Lennox (played by Emmy nominee Dougray Scott) and newly promoted DS Drummond as they investigate the kidnapping of a schoolgirl.
But in the real drama fashionthe twists and turns continue as Lennox, desperate to know what happened to this boy, wrestles with inner demons fueled by his troubled past and long-held secrets.
“If you had to describe Lennox, I think you would call him a very tough and fragile kind of avenging angel who is determined to give a voice to the voiceless in society and protect the vulnerable. ”offers Scott, 57, who has been working on the production of the series for a decade.
“Things happened to him as a child, so he became a police officer because he felt it was the best way to avenge what happened to him as a child,” he explains.
“So what makes him a great cop also makes him a bad cop: He’s hot-headed, he works on the spur of the moment, he works on instinct. He is in left field: he will go down alleys that no one else will go to try to find the solution or the answer.
“Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But he is deeply passionate about what he does.”
On the other hand, “My character wants to do everything by the book, because he hasn’t spent a lot of time with people, working on true crime,” compares The Runaway star Vanderham. “So, together, they fight to find the best way to solve a crime.
“Eventually, they start to see the light in each other’s practices, but it takes a minute for them to find their balance together,” he reflects, “which was fun to play. It’s that coming and going of, what am I going to do versus what are you going to do?
It was important for Drummond to stand out, especially since “he doesn’t really feature that heavily in the novel,” reasons Vanderham, whose co-stars also include the brilliant John Simm and Ken Stott.
“She’s in Filth, so I read that, but she’s mostly talked about from a man’s point of view, rather than her own perspective.”
So representing her character in a male-dominated space was crucial.
“It’s a huge responsibility, because it’s incredibly current right now, and I felt like I wanted to do it justice,” he says. “But what’s interesting about Lennox is that he’s not necessarily the dinosaur that she thinks he is.
“They learn from each other quite quickly and she doesn’t feel like she always has to beat the feminist drum with him, which I found refreshing.”
As for the heavy, absorbing story, one of which Vanderham admits some friends refused to watch, it was a case of reading about similar harrowing crimes for both her and Scott.
“It was as joyful as you can imagine…”, he says. “But what stuck with me is that a sane person, like me, tries to find a rhyme and a reason. We try to think, ‘Well, [child murderers] it must be behaving like this because of XYZ’ and try to find a pattern. And in reality, very often there isn’t one.
“That’s because they’re not sane people, they’re not thinking logically like a normal person would. And that was something I had to think about.”
“I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to research,” adds A Town Called Malice star Scott.
“For years I have watched documentaries about serial killers. But obviously, for this, I have visited all that dark, dark world. And I’ve got this guy I’ve talked to a lot, Ian, who’s an ex-cop; he is an adviser on the show. So, I went through the whole procedure with him.”
The slight relief came in Scott and Vanderham’s off-camera relationship, the couple confirms, which Vanderham praises for the laughs and much-needed “companionary silence.”
“We had long days where it was just the two of us in a car or in an office, and it could get exhausting if you felt like you always had to stay connected,” he says. “And then there was a real peace that came from just having a quiet moment.”
“It took me quite a while to leave [the part] behind,” he continues. “He wasn’t sleeping very well, but I feel like that fits the character because he seems to have it all figured out, but as the series goes on, we realize that he’s a complicated person who’s also hiding something.
So I hope it worked. I hope I didn’t come across as a tired actress.”
She must have been doing something right as a second series has been commissioned and filmed, with Vanderham and Scott once again leading an all-star lineup of Scottish talent that includes Stott, who will reprise his role as Chief Superintendent Bob Toal.
“I was excited when we found out [about the second series] because my character’s personal life is hinted at in the first, but in the second, we really dig into what happens when she’s not at work,” jokes Vanderham.
“It explains a lot of why she is the way she is, and then it starts to explore the power dynamic, which is also very current.”
As for a third race? “I would love a third season because I think there’s a chance that everything could get even crazier.” she ends, laughing.
“Irvine has already written it; we just have to convince everyone else…”
Crime is available to stream on ITVX from Thursday.