US star Clarke Peters says he was attracted to ITV's new historical drama Jericho because of the 'authentic, Western' take on the story of a shantytown set up to service the building of railway viaduct in 1870s Yorkshire.
The unusual eight-part drama co-stars Jessica Raine, but it's Clarke's mysterious railway agent character Ralph Coates who creates much of the intrigue in the first episodes. He enters the shantytown and very quickly begins to exert control over the community, like a wild west sheriff.
Clarke, who starred in hit US shows The Wire and Treme, told What's on TV: "When it was first offered I asked my agent I'd like to see more scripts, number one. Number two, I don't want to be doing a role just because I'm a commodity. You know, 'You're that guy from The Wire so we know that if they put you here, someone is going to watch'. I'm an actor who played a role in that and it was a good thing to do, but that comment is finished, this is a different comment... Seemed like I was the right person to put voice to this!"
Clarke was excited by Coatest. "He's his own worst enemy, in his conscience, but he knows the business and in knowing the business he knows how to manipulate, which is what he does in the first few episodes. I really like Coates... I really dig Coates!"
Even though Jericho appears to be a completely fictitious world, Clarke said he was attracted to the authenticity of the story. "I like that [Coates] could have existed in this environment. I like that you've taken a frontier town, which existed here in England, and all of a sudden you turn it into a Western. These places existed here, but they haven't been exploited by the British as of yet..."
Jericho premieres on ITV on Thursday, January 8.
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