Former Emmerdale actor Danny Miller, who won awards for his portrayal of Aaron Livesy in the soap, has joined ITV drama Scott & Bailey as D.S. Rob Waddington, here he talks about his new role as episode four of the detective drama hits the air this week.
Danny Miller was thrilled to join the cast of Scott & Bailey even if both he and his character were thrown in at the deep end.
The former Emmerdale actor, who also recently starred in ITV drama Lightfields, plays new boy Rob Waddington, a fast-tracked detective sergeant heading for the top. But his arrival at Syndicate 9 co-incides with a major murder investigation set to make national headlines.
Stockport-born Danny spoke to one of his friends who works in a real life police Major Incident Team (MIT).
“I talked to him a lot and he offered as much help as he could. I also watched various documentaries about how a police briefing room would work. And the police advisor on Scott & Bailey was great. He gave me little tips and was always on hand to say, ‘You wouldn’t be able to do that or this.’
“Then you’ve just got to do what you can to imagine that you’re in that room and play it out. It was tough, really challenging. But a dream role and such a great opportunity for me.”
There was a time when being a good actor but becoming infamous for a soap role could kill your television career, however despite being known to millions as Emmerdale’s Aaron Livesy, Danny left to pursue new acting challenges, including the role of Tom in Lightfields and now D.S.Rob Waddington. Proving that these days there is a lot of life after soap.
Rob is the son of former detective Frankie Waddington, who once worked alongside D.C.I. Gill Murray (Amelia Bullmore).
“He’s followed in his dad’s footsteps and obviously idolises him in some respect. Rob is a genuine, likeable, friendly guy.”
His appointment to the team comes after Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp) has spent months filling the gap as Acting Detective Sergeant. And while Rob is a high-flyer, he also needs all her help and experience to guide him.
Explains Danny: “Rob is young and determined to sail through the ranks. He was only in uniform for a short time and quite clearly he’s been fast-tracked to come into this more senior role.
“He’s bright and enthusiastic. A clever lad. But learning on the job. Janet takes him under her wing and he appreciates her experience and intelligence. He doesn’t like confrontation and would rather sit down and work things out. Yet when he has to put his foot down, he will.”
Rob is Scott & Bailey’s immediate boss, even though they are older and more experienced.
“When I started filming my first few scenes it said in the script that Rob was nervous about it. You would be.”
Did it help that Danny was also a “new boy” coming in to join an established regular cast.
“Absolutely. It almost had that first day at school feeling about it. I was sat there among all these well established actresses and actors and my character is telling them what to do.
“Although I’m acting a character, it was very easy to fall into that intimidated role. But Rob knows that at the end of the day he is the boss and he has to do it. He’ll do what he’s got to do.
“I’ve been in the situation back with Emmerdale. It is very hard for a new actor to come in and instantly feel a part of that cast. We used to have a lot of new families joining and everyone tries to make them feel as welcome as you can. But you can’t help that feeling that you’ve invaded, in a sense, because these people have been working together for three years and they know the characters inside out, who would say what to who, who would sit where and who would do what.
“I could only research what I could about the police and do what I wanted to do with Rob. But as the director said, ‘It’s rank over age.’ It’s not the fact that at 25 he’s half the age of most people there. That’s the job. He’s got to tell these people what to do. Rob is thrown in at the deep end and he doesn’t initially know how to deal with it. That’s why Janet is there to help him along the way. It is a big case, even for MIT. He has to learn. He makes mistakes. But he gets in amongst it and does what he can.”
Rob is impressed when he observes D.C. Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones) interviewing a murder suspect.
“I imagined Rob to be sat down aged nine or 10 when his mates are out playing on the park, he’s sat down watching The Bill or another police series because he’s so excited and thrilled by it all. Then to sit watching it in real life and seeing the way Rachel works around the suspect in the interview – Rob loves it and he loves the job.”
Danny is a relatively new convert to Scott & Bailey.
“I was intrigued by it but hadn’t seen a lot because of work. But I downloaded the series to my iPad from iTunes and watched it all during breaks in filming for my last job. I instantly fell in love with it – and that wasn’t a biased opinion because I was going into the series. It’s a great show and I love the writing. My dad watches anyway and my mum also likes it. They’re chuffed to bits that I’ve been working on such a great show. They know it’s a very good role and I’m very lucky.”
Rob’s smile, charm and career path even win over Syndicate 9 boss Gill Murray – known as “Godzilla” to her team. She tells Janet:
“I want to be his mother…I don’t mean that literally.”Danny grins: “He does have that feel about him. My own mum has said, ‘Oh, I just want to mother him.’ I could sit down and have a cup of tea with Rob and tell him all my problems, knowing the secret would be safe.
“I think Gill picks up on that, knowing that he’s determined, clever and bright. He wants to succeed and get to the top as quick as he can.”
When Scott & Bailey fall out later in the series, Janet finds that she can confide in the young man as a friend.
“That scene is so beautifully written,” says Danny. “When we sat down and discussed it we said, ‘This is almost a mirror. It should be the other way around – the young one confiding in the older one.’ But it’s so clever the way they’ve done it. It also shows that Rob is a good listener. He’s 25 and not experienced enough to give advice. He just listens.”
Is it an added bonus that the production is filmed in and around Manchester, where Danny is based?
“It’s brilliant for me,” he laughs. “It’s the first job I’ve done where I can work from home. Before I had to go to Leeds, London, Liverpool or wherever. It’s nice to wake up in my own bed and be able to drive to work and just be around the corner.”
Although still working hard to tight deadlines, the pace of filming on an eight-part drama is necessarily different to that on a year-round soap.
“We were doing 60 pages of script a day at Emmerdale for scenes that are shown five days a week, Monday to Friday. So you’ve got to expect to film that much. Then you come into something like Scott & Bailey and for it to be five, six, seven pages a day is refreshing because you can sit down and breathe!”
Could Danny see himself doing Rob’s job for real?
“If I was going to be a policeman I would probably be a sergeant because they have a lot of pressure on their shoulders but don’t have to do any of the interviews – they are done by detective constables. But I think I’d be too worried about the outcome of me catching a baddie. Would they come and get me after they leave prison?!”
Rob begins to get to grips with his new job in episode six, which involves an investigation into a suspicious care home death.
“It’s a topical story of things going on behind closed doors. Reading the script I was intrigued to discover the outcome. Gill Murray gives him a really big task, which is to brief on her behalf. You can see that he’s a little nervous about it but he’s a professional and shows how quickly he can learn.”
Danny became a very recognisable TV face during his time in Emmerdale.
“It was really full on around the time of the outcome of the gay storyline. There were times when I couldn’t sit in a restaurant without someone saying something. Which was fine. I could deal with it and it was no problem. But now, of course, new characters have come in, storylines change and people slowly but surely forget. So it’s gone from being, ‘Oh, you’re Aaron off Emmerdale,’ to. ‘Oh you’re that thingy off Emmerdale,’ to, ‘Where do I know your face from?’”
Danny is also co-founder and chief ambassador of Once Upon A Smile, the charity set up after the death of his friend and former Emmerdale producer Gavin Blyth from lymphoma cancer at the age of just 41. The charity’s recent annual Grand Ball in Manchester was attended by over 500 people despite snow and freezing temperatures on the night.
“The success of the charity has been immense over the last 12 to 18 months. It means a lot to me because it’s close to my heart with Gavin and the Blyth family. So I keep a close eye on what is happening at the charity – a hands-on approach. So many families that have been hurt have been able to smile again and we’ve been able to help in different situations.
“We also raise money through celebrity football involving a lot of people from Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and the television world. So we’ll be doing that each week this year, starting from May, with just over 20 games all over the country.”