Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan on the ‘final' series of The Fall - The Irish News
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Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan on the ‘final' series of The Fall

As hit Belfast-shot crime drama The Fall returns to TV next week, David Roy chats to stars Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson about what viewers can expect from this third and supposedly final series

Gillian Anderson is back as DSI Stella Gibson in series three of The Fall

THE wait is almost over: next Thursday – or this Sunday if you have RTE – fans of hit serial-killer-themed crime series The Fall will get their first taste of its third, apparently final 'season'.

Not to gloat, but some of us have already seen episode one, which picks up in the immediate, blood-soaked aftermath of last year's explosive finale in which we saw high-minded strangler Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) gunned down while in the custody of ice cool murder cop, DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson).

To give too much away would be to face imminent death by BBC Press Office firing squad, but let's just say that Spector's acute lead poisoning might not be terminal – and that Casualty fans who've always felt the long-running medical drama isn't gory enough will be in their element.

When I spoke to Dornan and Anderson prior to a sneak preview screening at BFI Southbank in London earlier this month, both were tight-lipped about what actually happens in series three.

Indeed, it seems that those closest to Dornan have long given up on pumping him for information about Spector's eventual fate on the BBC hit, which earned the Co Down actor a Bafta nomination in 2014.

"I think they know not to," laughed Dornan, who landed the titular lead in the blockbuster movie adaptation of racy/rancid potboiler Fifty Shades of Grey shortly after starring in The Fall.

"They know that I wouldn't reveal anything. But there's definitely a lot of people who are very intrigued that I'm still in it – some people can't work out how that can possibly be, so I've had a bit of fun toying with them.

"But none of them have an actual clue what actually happens."

One thing is certain: Belfast's first ordinary decent serial killer has seen better days. Dornan's bare-chested scenes in the series opener are about as erotic as a serious car accident, thanks to graphic depictions of emergency surgery.

"He's not in good shape," chuckled the former Methodist College Belfast pupil. "There's a lot of hospital action in the early part of this series."

While he wouldn't be drawn on specifics, Dornan did throw us a tantalising tidbit when asked how he prepares for his role as the psychopathic Spector.

"Each season has opened up different elements of his character that I haven't explored – especially this series," revealed Dornan, who said he was "very, very proud" to film a hit like The Fall in his hometown of Belfast.

"There's quite an interesting twist that needed further research beyond what I had already done for Spector. There are very definite twists and turns that I really genuinely don't think the audience will see coming.

"The more we do, the more [The Fall creator, writer and director] Allan Cubitt likes to throw extra, juicy, horrific things into the mind of Spector – even I didn't really know some of this was going to happen, although we talk all the time about the outcome of the story."

So far, so frustratingly vague – but at least fans are guaranteed more 'Jamie and Gillian' time now that Gibson has her critically wounded quarry under armed guard.

"I have tons more scenes with Gillian," confirmed Dornan, who described his American co-star as "incredible, a ferocious actor" and declared Spector's interview room face-off with Gibson in the last series as "my favourite day of work I've ever had".

He added: "You've got to learn something from people who are that good at what they do, I think."

Since we last saw DSI Stella Gibson in action, Gillian Anderson has impressed viewers with her turn in BBC period drama War & Peace and reprised her most famous role as FBI agent Dana Scully in a new run of The X Files.

Now that the Chicago-born star is 'back in the blouse' as Gibson, possibly for the last time, will justice finally be served on Spector's quick-witted lady killer?

Of course, she couldn't tell us that.

"Well, he's in critical condition," offered Anderson,

"So on the one hand he's right where she wants him and on the other hand exactly where she doesn't want him – because she wants justice for the families of his victims and she wants closure.

"To have that left hanging is extraordinarily stressful for Gibson. It's infuriating for her."

One big question about The Fall series three is that, with Spector out of action, it would seem that the young professional females of Belfast can finally sleep easy.

However, where does that leave a show that has thrived on his stealthy homicidal threat for so long?

"I think you'll see that the consequences of what has transpired have far reaching, very, very complicated and also infuriating repercussions that then play out in many different ways throughout the six episodes – I promise," Anderson told me.

"Sometimes Spector is many steps ahead of Gibson and sometimes she is steps ahead of him. She's a smart cookie and I think that the nature of that so-called 'cat and mouse' dance is what compels her.

"But she's so used to being in control that, when she's not in any sense or form, it's completely de-stabilising for her."

And what of the rumours that The Fall is coming to an end thanks to the increasingly busy schedules of its leads: Anderson will soon be seen in the new TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Dornan has two Fifty Shades sequels on the way.

"That's also down to Allan," explained the London-based star. "He's been doing this six years now and I think he's ready to do other stuff."

Despite Dornan's rapidly rising stock in the film and TV world, it seems that his role as the creepy Paul Spector will always hold a special place in his heart.

"This job has changed my life immeasurably," he enthused. "Every single positive thing that's happened in my career from the day I got cast in The Fall has come because of it. As horrible a character as Spector is, I take great joy in spending time in his very sinister mind between 'action' and 'cut'.

"I've no sympathy for him, but so many other people have told me how part of them is actually gunning for Spector to evade Gibson and the wrath of justice and judgment.

"That's really interesting – and wrong – but it's very telling of how well Allan has written him. I don't know that I'll ever get the chance to play a villain as well crafted as Spector again."

And what of DSI Stella Gibson? Well, it seems we may not have seen the last of her after all (and not just because of the imminent French TV adaptation of The Fall) if Gillian Anderson has her way.

"The good thing about ending things now is – what if we were to pause and come back in three or four years to see where Gibson is then?" she teased.

"This kind of feels like something that might be a good idea to do again."

Over to you, Mr Cubitt.

:: The Fall, Sunday September 25, RTE One, 9.30pm; Thursday September 29, BBC Two, 9pm.

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