‘We needed someone like Adrian Lester’: Trigger Point writer Daniel Brierley explains explosive cliffhanger

Adrian Lester was a key piece of casting for the ITV thriller, Trigger Point writer Daniel Brierley explains
Adrian Lester as Joel Nutkins in Trigger Point (Credit: ITV/Ross Ferguson)Adrian Lester as Joel Nutkins in Trigger Point (Credit: ITV/Ross Ferguson)
Adrian Lester as Joel Nutkins in Trigger Point (Credit: ITV/Ross Ferguson)

The first episode of Trigger Point ended with an explosive cliffhanger.

Writer Daniel Brierley – who we spoke to earlier in the week about the early development of Trigger Point and how he approached writing the thriller series – explains to National World exactly what he was thinking when he came up with that ending.

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He also teases what we can expect over the coming weeks, and sheds some light on whether we might see a second series of Trigger Point.

Be warned, though: there are big spoilers for Trigger Point across the rest of this article.

So, Trigger Point is airing weekly, and it’s not going to be released in that boxset binge model. I was wondering if that shapes how you write – this feels like a show that’s built around its cliffhangers, for the weekly conversation?

Yeah, I think what people really enjoyed about previous shows of Jed’s, like Line of Duty or Bodyguard, is that sense of the cliffhanger. I remember there was a podcast called Serial a few years ago, and it was released weekly at a time when things were being released all at once. I think people enjoyed that delayed gratification.

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Certainly, when I wrote Trigger Point, I really wanted to get that kind of EastEnders drumbeat, do do do do. So I think hopefully that format, the way it’s released weekly, will lend itself well to the series’ shape.

Would you have written it differently, do you think, if it had been planned for the series to be released all at once?

I think so, perhaps. For some reason, in my mind Trigger Point had always been a weekly thing, but I didn’t think too much about the broadcast when I was writing. It was always very much that I need to make sure for people to tune into the next episode, whether that will be in a week’s time or immediately.

So, at the end of the first episode, Adrian Lester’s character dies. Could you tell me a little bit about your thought process there with that?

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To me, the basis of the drama is about the end of episode one. What I really wanted to do was have that idea in episode one that Lana is an apprentice partner; I really wanted to show Lana’s journey and the ways Lana’s dealing with grief and dealing with the tragedy of what happens in episode one, as an evolution over the series itself.

What happens to Adrian is the starting point of the entire show – it’s not just the mystery of the bombers, it’s how Lana deals with the death of her mentor.

How was Adrian cast as Joel – I assume you need a very particular kind of actor for a role like that?

We needed to make sure we had someone who had the gravitas – the heft, if you like – to be memorable enough and important enough to add to the show, and yet still only be on screen for maybe 45 minutes.

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It had to be someone like Adrian, who has the chops to be able to pull that off, and to be able to immediately slot in with Vicky and appear as if they had this profound bond – we need someone who’s good enough that they could show that in such a limited amount of screentime.

That’s a structural trick that we see relatively often, these days – Martin Compston’s character was a big part of the marketing for Vigil but killed off in the first episode, obviously Line of Duty did it a few times, so on and so forth. Do you think that’s a conceit that might get too familiar, and people might actually expect the surprise cliffhanger?

Hopefully, people wouldn’t expect it. I think [the first episode] establishes this buddy cop duo, so hopefully it will still be a surprise when that happens – but then I think audiences are very savvy. Often, if they are expecting that, then perhaps that will elevate the tension in the first episode – tension won’t exist if an audience thinks that everyone can survive the entire time.

Yeah – I was expecting Lana Washington to be killed off, so it was still quite tense, but I was a little off base with that.

Ah, but you haven’t seen episode three yet?

No, I haven’t yet…

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Well, keep watching…! I think episodes 3 and 4 are fantastic. And obviously 5 and 6 are very good as well!

I’m going to have to! Is there anything you can tease about the rest of the series for us?

It’s Lana Washington’s worst nightmare – especially the idea that someone in her own circle, someone perhaps even in her own family, is responsible for these attacks.

What’s next for you? Is there anything you can tell us about any other projects you’re working on?

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I can’t go into too much detail, but there’s a book adaptation that I’m working on, as well as another couple of original ideas. And perhaps potentially a future edition of Trigger Point! But we’ll see how people feel about this series.

Daniel Brierley, thank you very much!

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