Chris Chibnalls Broadchurch was a series that can claim to have totally gripped the nation. Who Murdered Danny Latimer? was the question on everyones lips. To call Broadchurch a phenomenon seems entirely appropriate- it was a ratings behemoth and garnered heaps of critical praise. A second series has already been commissioned and the first thrilling series is about to land on DVD here, as well as taking over America very soon. One of the Prime Suspects was firm audience favourite Nige Carter, the well-meaning Plumber and best mate of the victims father. At times over-emotional and hiding a dark past even he was unaware of, Nige was portrayed by the charismatic and established performer Joe Sims. In an exclusive interview, Sims was kind enough to discuss his approaches to acting, his varied career and his charity work with young people as well as the memorable time he spent on the set of the hit show. Id love to know how you started off as an actor- what inspired you to become one, what was your first big break, etc? I was really lucky. I wasnt academic, and in schools, not everyone excels immediately so they can be pushed aside. But my drama teacher- everyone remembers their favourite teacher- she showed me another way. If youre given foundations to build on, it gives you inspiration as a young person. I went to The Bristol Old Vic Drama School, then to the HTV drama workshop- I actually went back there to talk to the students around the time Broadchurch started to air, and I was given a warm welcome. I was lucky to get roles in the likes of Casualty pretty quickly- there was lots of good Drama happening in Bristol at the time. I think that theres a lot of talent in the West Country, a real melting pot. I hope theres stuff out there for writers and directors in the area as well as actors- with no funding, its so difficult to get your ideas out there. You garnered much praise for your turn as Texan killer Lee Fenton in the play As We Forgive Them. How did you get into character and take on such a challenging role? I got a scholarship to study in San Francisco for a year, and I got a chance to really study the American culture- in fact, there was another play I did of a similar vein called the Laramie project- its based on horrific true events, where a guy in Wyoming was killed purely because of his sexuality. When you get roles like these, I suppose you have to find the fundamental truth in people, regardless of the culture or country. Ultimately, thats not a stretch for an actor. If we look at unemployed, rudderless people in this country, without any encouragement or inspiration, things can get ugly for them very quickly. When theyre adults, were quick to point the finger, but its important to realise how they may have arrived at that point, and in that place. I do a lot of work with young offenders for charity. Speaking to these people, you see how these circumstances can present themselves. The writer , Richard Vergette, is top class- it might sound pretentious, but its great for an actor when the words in the script just fit together. What about Broadchurch and the character of Nige Carter appealed to you as an actor? For a start, we only got the scripts for the first 2 episodes through, and I hadnt had the chance to read beyond Episode 1 when I took it on. It was when it was explained to me that was hot-headed, that he misguided but came from a good place . He loves the people in his community and will protect them at all costs- thats something everyone can relate to. While Nige is absolutely fallible and can make mistakes, nothing comes from a place of malice. Hell have to live with his mob mentality that drove David Bradleys Jack Marshall to his death. What I love is the moral ambiguity in everyone. Theres some beautiful performances in the show, with such pathos. Did you, at any point, have an idea who the killer would be? Did you think it couldve been you? We were running a pool on it- we had no idea . We Spent hours in the pub thinking if it was us and how we did it. In the makeup truck, we had a board with pictures for every character, and everyone put a sticker next to who they reckon did it. I thought it was Mark (Latimer, the father of the murdered Danny), based on what we knew at that point. It was nice that we didnt know as an actor, for your performance- you cant trust anybody! It made it easy to honest performance. This is how it might be if this was real life. I thought there was every chance it could have been me- I was interested to find out why it might have been Nige. When Chris Chibnall was meant to tell us all and held back , we went mental- Im surprised he wasnt dragged out of the craft services truck and lynched! Im glad he didnt- to build tension- but of course we all wanted to know! According to imdb, you starred in the Indonesian film Darah Geruda, the sequel to Merah putih. How did you get involved in that production, and what was the experience like, operating in a vastly different kind of culture? Its very different. The things that happened in Indonesia until 1946, and arguably since then, have been terrible. The Dutch controlled the country, then the Japanese took over, and then The Dutch took over again briefly before it was given back to the Indonesian people! I wasnt speaking in English, my lines were in Dutch and Indonesian- I was the Dutch head of a torture facility. Learning lines in a different language was hard- you make choices in the inflection, accent, tone, and that can all be lost in translation if its not your first language. I got to live in Java for a month or two, then spent five months in Bali- thats an incredible experience for any actor, and it allowed me to immerse myself in the culture. I had local coaches, for fighting and for the language, and they were invaluable. I hope I did a good job! The Indonesians actors were brilliant- watching them the 30s and 40s, with their Cagney-esque performances! Everyones more naturalistic with their acting now in the West. Theres something to be said for those type of bigger performances. The way they interact with each other shows a lot of honesty. Youve done work on Childrens TV, such as The Basil Brush Show and The Giblet Boys. Do you find yourself acting differently for a younger audience? Im not a Father myself, but I spend a lot of time with kids- Its very rewarding. If kids think youre s**t, they wont pander to you, theyre very forthright. When you watch shows like (1980s Canadian cartoon) The Racoons, it brings you back to the fundamentals that need to be instilled in children. Being in something worthy is very important. Projecting those positive images for young people is important. In Basil Brush a played a One-Man crimewave, and my acting was over-the-top. Kids might not appreciate certain subtleties , but its so much fun. No two days are the same for an actor! A lot of the filming took place in this writers hometown. How did you enjoy working in the area?I had a great time, and had an affinity filming in the West Country. Im speaking as a guest at one of the local Sixth Form schools soon- It helps to raise the profile of the work theyre doing there. What was it like working with such a stellar cast, particularly Pauline Quirke? Did you learn any important lessons in acting from anyone? Of course! Acting, like directing and writing I presume, is a lifelong apprenticeship- youre always chasing something perfect. When you work with what is essentially the glitterati of British television, youre a fool not to take lessons from everyone- Their performances are so brave. But its testament to the whole crew, giving us the chance to try new things. When I watch them all, you watch them perform, and you look back and they just turn it on- everything thought out, youre like wow!. It forces you to be the best actor you can be. Far too often, you dont take risks and second guess yourself- just go for it! A director can bring your performance down, but they cant bring it up! That would be my advice for any young actors looking at getting a foothold in the industry- Trust your judgment. Far too often we second guess ourselves, but your gut instinct is the right one. I believe youve done work in Radio, most notably on The Archers. What is the primary difference in acting purely through your voice for the radio, and expressing yourself in front of an audience or on camera? Id say the year I did in radio was the best of my life. The idea it all comes vocally you have to give it everything. Apparently some listeners can tell the difference between hot and cold running water! You find yourself contorting your body like you wouldnt expect . You need to be totally open in all youre doing. With radio drama, you have time to develop your performance. Its an organic progress and a collective working process. Id love to write for radio- , theres no more edifying experience. I hope to come back and do all the Classics that people dont have the budget to do on stage or screen- The last thing I did on radio was the Count of Monte Cristo. Youll find actors, regardless of their status, will come back time and time again to Radio- the idea play and create something with the director, sometimes even the writer in the room . Its a very powerful medium to work in. ITV has confirmed Broadchurch will be returning for a second season- Its early days, but do you think youll be involved? Have you heard what it might be about? And in your opinion, where can the story go with such a shocking and definite conclusion? I hope to be involved- I think Nige has gone through the mill with the accusations, and his past. Theres lot of dimensions for Chris Chibnall to explore- He was so incendiary . Wherever it goes, Im a fan- and that goes for the rest of the cast! I couldnt speculate where it would go. It exceeded expectations, and the publics . Itll be fantastic, wherever Chris goes with it- Im absolutely on board and happy to see it, or be in it. And whats next for you? Can you tell us anything about your upcoming projects on stage or screen? Ill be in a cartoon called Chuggington, where Ill be doing a voiceover for a Cockney Train called Chuggeneer Fletch. Ive just been asked to do a film that might be shooting in the next couple of months, but Im not allowed to talk about it just yet! Im not sure about Broadchurch- Im just waiting for the call. Broadchurch is available on DVD from May 20th.