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UNILAD Talks To Noel Clarke And Ashley Walters About Their New Show Bulletproof

by : Tom Percival on : 04 May 2018 15:05
Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters star in London crime show Bulletproof on Sky from May 15Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters star in London crime show Bulletproof on Sky from May 15Sky

Looking for a new exciting and cop show to get you through the summer? Well we’ve got the perfect programme for you. 

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Co-created by Nick Love, Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters, Bulletproof follows two cops, Bishop (Clarke) and Pike (Walters), as they chase down hardened criminals in London’s East End.

On paper the two cops couldn’t be more different, Bishop’s a brash, slightly arrogant guy who grew up on the streets, while Pike’s an aspirational family man and the son of a decorated police officer determined to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Still from Bulletproof staring Ashley Walters and Noel ClarkeStill from Bulletproof staring Ashley Walters and Noel ClarkeSky

Despite their differences, the two have one thing in common: they love catching bad guys and their ruthless pursuit of justice sees the pair tear through the rotten belly of the criminal underbelly.

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Sounds good, right?

Well, we thought so earlier this week we went to a super secret location – a hotel in Soho – to speak to Noel and Ashley find out more about Bulletproof.

UNILAD: You’ve probably been asked this a million times but it’s a nice easy one to start. What’s Bulletproof about?

Ashley: It’s about a drug dealer in a gang from Hackney… oh sh*t that’s the wrong show!

Noel: [Laughing] That’s the wrong one! That’s your other show!

Ashley: No it’s about us. It’s about these two cops that are brothers, who’ve come up through the ranks together, love what they do. Love catching criminals. Slightly maverick, they bend the rules every now and again, but they always get their man and they’re respected by their peers, but the root of the show is pretty much their relationship and their loyalty and love for each other. They’re like brothers.

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UNILAD: Well you two are like best mates in real life anyway, right? 

Ashley: We are now.

Noel: [Laughing]

Ashley: We are now. We’ve got bread to break.

UNILAD: Bulletproof feels like a mixture of Bad Boys and The Sweeney. Do you agree?

Noel: I don’t 100 per cent agree. It’s definitely influenced by, for us, Bad Boys and I think The Sweeney element came from Nick [who directed the 2012 remake film of the 70s cop show]. Personally, I would always steer away from the Cockney element because my mindset is to be as far-reaching globally as possible because sometimes it doesn’t travel. 

That’s always my thing. But I think that Nick brings such a great energy to the show and then Ashley and I bring the Americanisms and the banter and swagger which is where the Bad Boys element comes in.

UNILAD: Any other buddy cop movies or shows that inspired you? 

Ashley and Noel in unison: Lethal Weapon.

Noel: Yeah, Lethal Weapon and probably Miami Vice, probably those two, although maybe not Miami Vice as much. Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys were the main two. Then over here [the UK] it’s The Sweeny and The Professionals but again that’s probably more Nick.

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UNILAD: You guys helped co-create the show with Nick, what was that process like?

Noel: We actually came up with the show a while ago and that was the show we had when Nick came on board and it kind of evolved into this. So really you say he co-created with us! [Laughing] Nah but it was a collaborative effort to make it into something special.

UNILAD: So what was the initial idea for the show?

Ashley: Two cops!

Noel: [Enthusiastically pointing at a conveniently placed Bulletproof poster] This!

Ashley: [Laughing] Nah, two cops one married, one not.

Noel: One maverick, one less so, bending and breaking the rules. Essentially it was the same idea but our storyline was probably different.

Ashley: Yeah.

Noel: And when Nick came on, it turned into this thing.

UNILAD: Bish and Pike are really strong lead characters. Noel, Bish seems like a guy who’s all front but got this vulnerable side to him while Pike’s from a bit of a different background bit more stability in his life but clearly something attracts him to this dangerous lifestyle. What do you guys think of them?

Ashley: Well when it started we came from this place that they’d be complete opposites.

Noel: Yeah completely different.

Ashley: As it went on though we thought, the two just have a real love for their job and they’re addicted to catching criminals. It’s like drugs to them. So they’ve both got different ways of fighting crime but it always leads to the same result. Catching the perp.

Noel: And different strengths and weaknesses! So [points at Ashley] he knows that if a criminal gets in a car to get away [points at Ashley again] he knows they’re not getting away because that’s what he does. Driving.

Whereas Bishop, who’s brave as they come, Bishop would jump through a plate glass window off two stories to catch a bad guy! And he would do it! People would be like ‘don’t do it!’ and he’d be like ‘I’ve got to do it’ and then throw himself but when it comes to cars he’s like ‘just don’t speed because it’s reckless’.

Still from Bulletproof staring Noel Clarke and Ashley WaltersStill from Bulletproof staring Noel Clarke and Ashley WaltersSky

Noel: Meanwhile Pike, because he’s so technical, he knows how to drive cars and Bishop doesn’t like it. So there’s strengths and weaknesses in each character which make it work.

Ashley: Yeah like all the procedural stuff, that’s like Pike’s job. Reading the rights, handcuffing them while he [points at Noel] doesn’t want to get involved.

Noel: Yeah because there’s an episode where… wait you’ve not seen it. [Laughter] Anyway there’s an episode later on where Bishop does something, catches a bad guy, does something to this bad guy and it’s only after that he remembers he forgot to tell him he was under arrest because he’s forgotten that he has to read people their rights. So he does it while the guy’s unconscious so he’s like ‘Yeah I read him his rights. He may not have heard me!’

UNILAD: Your chemistry’s really good and the interplay between Bish and Pike is great. Do you have an idea of backstory for the two?

Noel: We think they met in training.

Ashley: Yeah they met in training.

Noel: We like the idea they got on from day one. It’s always the thing that they met, didn’t like each other then became mates. We think they met and hit it off straight away. You know because they’re so different.

UNILAD: The dialogue’s cracking, I love the parts when you’re just chatting in the car, how important was it to keep the dialogue natural?

Ashley: 100 per cent, we’re all over it.

Noel: Yeah, and we’re constantly changing it, every single day. You know Nick or whoever wrote the episode, because I wrote one and there’s a few other writers, they all know that whatever they put down is a guide because when we get out there we’re riffing.

They already know, they’ll be days when I come in with my glasses on and a pencil behind my ear with my script in my hands and they’re like ‘Jesus’ but I’m like ‘Listen here’s what we need to do and [mimes writing] we change it up’ and I think me and Ash brought that energy, changing it up every time.

UNILAD: [To Ashley] How often did he come in with his pencil?

Ashley: Everyday!

[Laughter]

Ashley: But that’s not to say the script was crap, it was just a guide for us.

Noel: Oh yeah, the scripts were great.

Bulletproof premieres on Sky One on Tuesday May 15 at 9 pm.

Tom Percival

More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism. Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV. He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.

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