New six-part series, Traces, based on an idea by best-selling crime writer Val McDermid is set to premiere on BBC First and BBC Player on March 13.
Written by Amelia Bullmore, Traces follows 23 year old chemistry graduate Emma (Holly Windsor), who enrolls in an online course teaching the principles of forensic science.
Given a fictitious murder case, her task is to identify the victim and establish how they died. But having completed the first module, Emma knows exactly who the victim is – her mum!
What attracted you to Traces?
Molly: When you look at a job, you have to go with your gut instincts and for me, traces was one where I was taken away by the story and by the writing and characters.
My instincts were telling me I was really protective over the script and of the story, then I met the rest of the team and Amelia, the writer, she went through the arc of the story with me and the way she told it was really compelling. I thought yeah, this is going to be a goody.
Can you tell us a bit about your character?
Molly: So Emma was born in Dundee, but left when she was really young (after her mother disappeared). She went to Manchester with her aunt Julie.
She worked really, really hard at school and at college and left university with a first class degree in analytical chemistry. It’s that that brings her back to Dundee and that’s where traces starts.
When you were sent the scripts, what grabbed your attention the most?
Molly: For me, I think again it’s that thing of you’re reading the script as a job, so anything will grab your attention in terms of practicality, where it’s shooting, where it’s set, what the script’s like, you pick out any flaws within an instant, but for traces, it grabbed my attention because all of that slipped away and you’re just reading the story and that’s quite rare, so that stayed with me when I read it the first time.
How did you get into character?
Molly: I think it’s different for every job. For me, I put a timeline together of a character and then flesh it out as much as I can. Someone that’s in their early 20s, they’ve had nearly 20 years of experiences, their family, their history, where they come from, all their thoughts and beliefs, so you’ve got a lot of thinking to do, what kind of music they listen to.
Then for something like traces, you look into the specifics of, for example, chemistry and forensic science, so you’ve got enough to keep you busy.
What’s so intriguing about Crime dramas?
Molly: When we had that day speaking to a crime-scene investigator and then to forensic Scientists in the uni, it’s just fascinating because that’s a part of society we don’t get to see.
Information like that is largely confidential. It’s the unknown you want to know more about. There’s a quote in Val’s book where they said something about the way to deal with death is to remove the strangeness from it, to make it so familiar.
It was saying it’s such a dark thing, if you remove the strangeness and make it so familiar, that removes its power.
Traces has an amazing female line – up and is penned and produced by women. Do you think this is a turning point for the future of women in Crime Drama?
Molly: I always get shocked by that question because in my career, I’ve been so lucky, and it’s predominantly been female directors and female producers for me.
Probably 90% of the work I’ve done has been led by women. I’m having an unusual experience in terms of the horrendous statistics that show there is an inequality, but it’s one of those where you think we’re doing great work, hopefully, and that should speak for itself.
Can you describe Traces in one sentence?
Really, really, really good.
Traces premieres on BBC First and BBC Player on March 13.