“I spent a week with a real police unit after we had finished filming this new series of Missing, the drama. And what it has taught me is that no-one is ever written off. These are not the dregs of society, they are someone’s son, or they might be a father themselves, they deserve the time being spent on trying to find them.” Says Pauline.
The actress, who found fame fronting Thames Television-produced children’s programming for ITV in the 1970s, joined a real-life Missing Person’s Unit in Hackney, London – the area she grew up in – and she has now produced a number of reports which can be seen as part of the factual morning BBC Daytime series Missing Live which accompanies the drama.
“Unlike us actors, the real team never know what the day is going to bring and what really struck me is the passion they have for the job – it matters to them. This is not the sexy side of policing. My week was fascinating – but I know I couldn’t do it for real as a living. And what surprised me is that their office is so small – by comparison ours in the drama series is palatial!” says Quirke.
In Monday’s episode Amy struggles when Jason, who has matured into a key part of the MPU team and has been selected by MJ to take his sergeant’s exams, unexpectedly ends their blossoming love affair. In the opening episode, the team tackles an emotional case when Leanne and her overbearing partner, Ben, report that Leanne’s six-year-old daughter, Jade, is missing. Suspicion quickly falls on Jade’s real father, Marcus. MJ is surprised when her estranged father Jack reappears. But will his return into their lives be welcomed as warmly by MJ and is he really the reformed character he claims to be?
Jack is played by comedian and actor, Roy Hudd. “I grew up with Roy Hudd regularly on the telly, he was so much part of my life. He seems to have done everything and worked with everyone and was a big feature of TV light entertainment which seems to have gone by the by now. He might not realise it but he is part of so many people’s lives.
“So obviously I was chuffed to bits to work with him, and I have to say that first and foremost he is a lovely man, absolutely delightful, he was great fun to be with! He told us some wonderful stories and fabulous jokes – sadly I’m not very good at remembering jokes, but his timing is perfect, I could listen to him all day. It’s a shame that work kept interrupting us – we had to keep acting in between hearing his stories!” adds Pauline.
Tuesday sees a teenage girl, Jess, reported missing from her hostel home. Pete, an aggressive drunk from her foster care past, is suspected of having something to do with her disappearance. But CCTV footage of Jess with an old woman suggests a more worrying story. Midweek a local man, Damon Clitheroe, goes missing and is discovered by MJ and the team in a coma in a nearby hospital.
His tangled and complicated love life is slowly unraveled. Difficult truths have to be faced and compromises reached with a surprising result. In the office, Amy and MJ have formed an uneasy truce, after MJ criticised her work, but when DCI Ford asks Amy about her recent appraisal, Amy unwittingly lands MJ in trouble, and it starts to look as if Amy has made a formal complaint.
Thursday’s episode concerns Jerry, an ex-serving corporal recently returned from Helmand, and his wife Emma report a friend and fellow soldier, Darren missing, MJ is concerned for the well-being of this popular member of the Kent Regiment. Her fears for his safety are raised further when she discovers that a shotgun has disappeared. MJ soon realises, however, that the missing soldier is not necessarily the one with the biggest problem. The real danger is much closer than she originally thought.
Friday ends the week with a courier being reported missing by his worried, pregnant, girlfriend Nicola. He might be a bit hapless but this is very out of character. Danny finally confesses that his wife has kicked him out and he has been forced to sleep at the radio station.
The second series of Missing is host to a feast of familiar faces, not just Roy Hudd. Guest actors include Coronation Street’s Kate Ford, EastEnders’ James Alexandrou and Kim Medcalfe, Big Breakfast presenter Gabi Roslin and Footballers Wives’ Gary Lucy to name only a few.
To accompany the drama series, Missing Live, hosted by Louise Minchin and Rav Wilding, returns on BBC One daytime at 9.15am each weekday morning. The series explores the work of missing persons’ investigations, sees missing people reunited with the people who helped to find them and makes direct appeals in a live daily studio show.
Missing airs Monday to Friday at 2.15pm on BBC One acoss two weeks.