The West Wing star plays high-flying U.S. cop, Bill Hixon, who is appointed Chief Constable of the East Lincolnshire Police Force in the UK. The series is produced by 42, Shiver and Anonymous Content for ITV and launches later this year.
“The interesting sort of flavor of it was what drew me to it, it’s tone really. I love these shows, I love Fargo, Better Call Saul, I love these shows where there’s a titular hero in the middle of it, but surrounded in a world in that is very odd, very different and really authentically intense and violent, and then really really sweet and emotional and then really really funny, all at once. And it’s hard to do and our writers pulled a rabbit out of a hat,” he told Deadline. “The fish-out-of-water genre is always great when it works. But a lot of times people herniate themselves trying to make up a fish-out-of-water excuse. And this is actually real, this is a real thing. The original concept of Bill, because there was a moment in time when an American [policeman] was going to be the Chief of Police in London, and people kind of went nuts and at the last second it didn’t happen. But that was the impetus for it because it could have happened.”
The show was created by The Hunted writer David Griffiths and then Awake creator Kyle Killen came on board with Silent Witness writers Dudi Appleton and Jim Keeble. Lowe acts as an exec producer as well as on-screen star.
It is the Parks and Recreation star’s first foray into television outside of the U.S. “I’ve done traditional network shows and the other thing I wanted to do was something that felt different, you know that felt like a streaming show. Even the long speech that I give with the long push in, that’s an uninterrupted one and a half minute take. You just don’t get an opportunity to do that kind of work very often, and you get to do it here. Also everybody in this show, all the actors that I’ve been lucky enough to work with, just bring it every day. And that helps me raise my game a lot,” he said. “I came to do a larger than life character and to do something really original and different and when I read the first script, the tone of this show really spoke to me because it’s so authentic to this very odd place of Boston Lincolnshire and to put a show in that world, that has the authenticity and the grit to it, but also has the humor, and to play the character of Wild Bill was something new and something I thought that would feel fresh,” he added.
Lowe’s Hixon is an analytics expert, a Moneyball-for-police type and he is in Lincolnshire to help bring down the crime rate, while also dealing with his troubled young daughter.
He said that its Fargo or Better Call Saul meets a story-of-the-week procedural. “What I like about the show is that it’s a character study of Bill, dressed up as a procedural. He’s a guy at a crossroads in his life, he is recently widowed, his daughter is in real trouble, he’s been kicked out of his last big job as the police commissioner in Miami, he’s kind of on the run really, he needs to find himself. And the irony that he would have to come to Boston, Lincolnshire to find himself? I think is really kind of fun. All of the crimes that we do on the show, the procedural element of the show, exists solely so that Bill can learn something about himself.”
This story-of-the week style is something that ITV has been craving, having seen drama dominated by high concept serialized shows in recent years. ITV head of drama Polly Hill told Deadline that it was “really hard to find an original and distinctive and different kind of show”
“It’s genuinely difficult to find something that feels like it stands out and is doing something different, and this just does. It’s the character, Bill, it’s the idea that it’s Rob in Lincolnshire, an American cop in Lincolnshire, for me I was in, I was like god that’s crazy, but I like it, I want to watch that. And the scripts were really good. I’ve been asking for a story of the week show for so long, and no one wants to write them. Everything is serialized. So there was that perfect combination, we’ve got a character that feels distinctive and we’ve got Rob who’s always involved, and was like, OK, I can see that character, it’s brilliant that it’s him, I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else. It really made sense,” she added.
ITV Studios Global Entertainment will be shopping the series to international broadcasters at Mip TV, having given it a big push at its recent Drama Festival in London. Deadline understands that ITVSGE is in conversations with a number of U.S. broadcasters and streaming services. Lowe is confident that it will sell as well as his past network shows. “I think we are in a moment in time where the answer [to whether it will sell well internationally] is yes.”