Jenna Coleman reveals why The Jetty is her perfect first role as a TV detective

Jenna Coleman reveals why The Jetty is her perfect first role as a TV detective

The Jetty explores a web of chilling secrets lying beneath the surface in a Lancashire lakeside town.

The four-part thriller, which airs on BBC One and BBC iPlayer from Monday 15 July in the UK, sees Victoria, Wilderness and Doctor Who star Jenna Coleman as widowed DC Ember Manning, who lives in the close-knit community with her teenage daughter Hannah (Bridgerton and Lockwood & Co's Ruby Stokes)

When Ember is called out to a fire at a boat hut that was once run by her late husband and is now being turned into a holiday home, it appears to be an arson attack. But Ember’s investigation soon brings her into contact with a troubled teenager who is part of a shady local family. 

Meanwhile, she also encounters determined podcast journalist Riz Samuel (Genius: Mlk/X's Weruche Opia), who is researching a cold case that concerns a missing person and the disturbing involvement between two underage girls and an older man.

As Ember becomes hell-bent on spotting any potential connections between the cases, she makes a shocking discovery that forces her to shine a devastating spotlight on her own enigmatic history…

Here, Jenna Coleman reveals all about The Jetty

Archie Renaux in a suit as Hitch and Jenna Coleman in a dark coat as Ember walk under some police tape being held up by an officer in a hi-vis jacket in The Jetty

Ember (Jenna Coleman) and her colleague Hitch (Archie Renaux) try to crack the case in The Jetty. (Image credit: BBC/Firebird Pictures)

The Jetty marks your first role as a TV detective. What drew you?

“My reluctance in the past was because, as much as I love detective thrillers, sometimes you become a vehicle to turn the cogs of the story. But this just felt I knew who Ember was, it felt like a human and emotional story as much as it was a detective thriller. And those two things coexisting together completely hooked me. 

“Also, there are themes of subconscious trauma, blurred boundaries, sexual politics, nostalgia and memories. It just felt so dense and rich.”

How do you see Ember?

“Her flaws are the thing that I love about her the most. Her Achilles heel is her pig-headedness, and her stubbornness and impatience are also driving that case. She is unable to do anything but charge forward, but at the same time she is unravelling her whole past, which I think is such an interesting push-pull for a character.” 

Some of the scenes are very dark as Ember makes some disturbing discoveries. What were they like to film? 

“There's so much subtext in between the lines, and many different layers and levels that she's living. That's a really exciting place to be as an actor, because it means a scene can take a path and bounce off in so many directions. It makes the job interesting.”

Amelia Bullmore in a green jacket and striped top as Sylvia in The Jetty

Ember's mum Sylvia (Amelia Bullmore) tries to support her in The Jetty. (Image credit: BBC/Firebird Pictures)

Her relationship with her mum Sylvia (Amelia Bullmore), a psychic, and her daughter Hannah are also at the heart of the story. How do you view those?

“Being on set, there were lots of women and it always felt like a very feminine story, right from the origin. It’s about the generations. Some of the scenes that I love the most are those with Ember and her daughter and also her mother, which look at that relationship. But it is so reverse-engineered, the mother acts like the teenager, the daughter is like the grandmother! Everything is not set out in a very obvious path, which I really enjoyed.”

How did it feel playing the mum to a teenager though?!

“Ruby's an amazing actress, so it just felt very natural. It’s such an interesting mother-daughter relationship because I have a friend with a daughter who she had when she was 18. There’s that line between being friends but also sometimes you have to pull the mum card. That was very much like this, but then the dynamic here becomes a lot more about Hannah taking care of Ember as well and the to and fro in that balance.”

Ruby Stokes in a school uniform as Hannah sits on a bench against a stone wall with Jenna Coleman in a dark coat as Ember in The Jetty

Hannah (Ruby Stokes) and her mum Ember (Jenna Coleman) have a close relationship but trouble is brewing in The Jetty. (Image credit: BBC/Firebird Pictures)

Finally, what do you think the lakeside setting brings to the drama? 

“When we first started, we’d get these poetic emails from Cat [Jones, the show’s writer], which were amazing to go into the scenes with. She’d use these water analogies to describe the different characters, and how certain men within the piece are like fire and how women are water and how those energies work with each other. The depth of it was phenomenal. Ember was apparently like an oxbow lake!”

The Jetty begins on Monday 15 July on BBC One at 9pm and the box-set is available on BBC iPlayer from the same date.