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It’s time to dust off that yellow puffer jacket, Save Me is back.
Lennie James returns for a second series as the boozer, charmer and chance Nelly Rowe, a man on a personal journey of redemption, whether he wants it or not.
Set 18 months after the first series, Nelly hasn’t given up hope of finding his daughter Jody, even though those around him think it may be time to give up the hunt. However, Nelly will not be swayed and he’s driven to keep hunting by his relationship with Grace, the young woman he found in the caravan park at the end of series one.
Gideon (Adrian Edmondson) faces trial for his role in the sexual exploitation of Grace and the wider paedophile network that Nelly uncovered in series one, but the monstrous businessman’s criminal activity has come as a surprise to his wife Jennifer, played by Lesley Manville.
As Nelly digs deeper into Gideon’s dark world, he forms a new bond with Jennifer, new suspects are revealed and threatens to ruin the bonds and relationships he’s built in the Towers community.
Save Me Too matches the first series for grit and tension and takes us further into the tangled lives of the Palm Tree pub locals and a disturbing criminal underworld.
Here are three reasons why you will want to binge the Save Me Too Box Set on April 1 on NOW TV…
Save Me was always supposed to return
There is always a temptation to bring back popular drama series, even when there is no reason for the story to be continued. However, Lennie James always planned for Save Me to be a recurring series.
The casting of Ade Edmondson and Olive Gray for minor roles in series 1 was made with the understanding that their characters would play a more significant part in series 2 and it also explains the unanswered questions left hanging last time.
“The question always was, ‘Do you have an idea for a returning television series?’ and Save Me was my idea,” explains Lennie.
“Over the next six episodes I wanted to explore Nelly’s responsibility for the life that he saved. And how the life that he saved, what impact that will have on his search for Jodie.”
Lennie is understandably cagy about whether series 2 will offer more answers about what happened to Jodie, but believes viewers will be satisfied by the conclusion.
“The story of series 2 is just how far Nelly will go to find Jodie before he faces up to the fact he may have to give up. And what that will do to them. And what that will cost him. And that’s exactly what these six episodes are about. I think that question by the end of series 2 will be answered,” he said.
And on the subject of series 3, he adds: "I'm putting it altogether in my head, I'm not quite there yet, but this was always a returning television series. And I’m not quite done with these characters.
“It’s not just about this one search, it’s about the impact that has on all these people around one man and if I can continue the story of all these people I will.”
Lesley Manville joins the cast
The most exciting addition to the cast for series 2 is Academy Award-nominee Lesley Manville, who plays Jennifer, the wife of the Ade Edmondson’s monstrous Gideon.
“I remember very clearly being in a meeting at World Productions and being asked who I wanted for the role of Jennifer and I said it I wrote it for Lesley Manville, but we’ll never get her,” recalls Lennie.
“And then we were at the RTS Awards last year and Jess Sykes, my co-executive producer said, Lesley is over there. So I gulped a big glass of something red, I walked over and said, ‘Are you busy?’ She said, ‘why are you asking?’ and I said because I’ve got this thing I’d quite like you to do.”
It’s easy to understand why Lennie was so desperate to get the Mum actress on-board as her scenes with Nelly and on-screen relationship with Ade Edmondson are scintillating.
Talking about the Ade and Lesley dynamic, Lennie explained: “The stories you read about this sort of thing is people saying, ‘I didn’t know my husband had this secret’. But when you investigate it, there is often a corner of one person’s life that the other refuses to look into. I wanted to explore someone who is completely blindsided by something after 30 years of marriage. The life they had been living is taken from under them.
“We needed an actress like Lesley to pull that off. For me, Lesley is one of the greatest thinking actresses in the world. The internal characters she creates – it’s a masterclass. I just think she’s phenomenal.”
The Palm pub's characters
“I got stupidly lucky with our cast. It’s the thing I am most grateful for – my cast,” said Lennie,
“There is this sense, because I wrote it, starred in it and produced it that this is all down to me. It really, really isn’t. I couldn’t have done this without the directors, without Sky, without World and without most importantly this cast.”
It was the colourful world of the Palm Tree pub, which provided Save Me with a balance of humour and big characters to balance out the dark central storyline. All the original cast return for series 2, which means new storylines and delving deeper into the lives of Tam (Jason Flemyng), Teens (Kerry Godliman, above), Zita (Camilla Beeput) and Goz (Thomas Coombes).
Stephen Graham, who won a Bafta-award for his performance as convicted sex offender Melon in series 1, is also back alongside Alice Feetham, who plays his wife Bernie. The duo’s relationship was one of the most engrossing and complex parts of the first six episodes and we can expect much more from the pair in the next six as Bernie is pregnancy.
Talking about their impending new role as parents, Lennie said: It’s moments like that where the idea comes to me and I go, ‘That’s it. That’s absolutely it.’ Everything that follows then almost writes itself.
“The way that Alice and Stevie play it – telling their story in a different way to the way they did first time around. They’re telling it at a different pace in different chunks. They do it brilliantly.
“It’s the continuation of a love story. That was the thing that was really important to me.”
Watch Save Me Too on Sky Atlantic with a NOW TV Entertainment Pass.
The full Box Set will be on NOW TV from April 1. Catch up on series 1 now.