It may sound like a sitcom, but Michael French’s new drama is an original cop show

Daily Record- May 19th 2001




HE WAS soap’s bad boy, but actor Michael French is cleaning up his act as a cop on the streets of Glasgow.

As EastEnders’ devious car dealer David Wicks, Michael became the man everyone loved to hate, thanks largely to his marriage-busting affair with Cindy Beale. But his new TV role looks set to change all that.

In the BBC’s new crime drama The Fabulous Bagel Boys, Michael plays Detective Sergeant Alexander Murchison, a cop with a past who doesn’t live by the rule book – to the dismay of his partner Inspector Morris Rose, played by Scots actor Denis Lawson.

While Michael’s character may seem straightforward, he says appearances can be deceptive.

“Murchison appears to be a run of the mill detective, but that’s not the case,” says Michael. “He’s quiet, but underneath has an air of menace. He’s manipulative and knows when to pounce.”

Michael’s presence made him a favourite on some top shows, including EastEnders and a brief stint as Dr Nick Jordan in Holby City. While he appreciates the fame these shows brought him, Michael wants to do different roles.

“I’d rather be unemployed than typecast,” says the 38-year-old bachelor. “There should be drama on television which is challenging.”

The Fabulous Bagel Boys looks certain to live up to Michael’s hopes. The first of its kind to be set in Glasgow’s Jewish community, the programme hopes to give Taggart a run for its money.

Centred around the Rose family delicatessen, the show’s unusual setting is integral to the drama, says Michael.

“The deli is an important symbol,” he says. “It represents the security of the family – which is rare nowadays.”

Michael can vouch for the authenticity of the scenario. “My family were all shopkeepers so I know the shop is vital to your existence. The moment that goes, everything starts to change.”

Michael’s Detective Murchison proves to be a real cuckoo in the Rose family nest. None of the characters, least of all Inspector Morris Rose, know exactly why he has been sent to Glasgow and his air of secrecy unnerves everyone.

The secretive nature of Michael’s character pleases him: “Secrets are at the core of good dramas – it’s just a question of how long it takes to expose them. Murchison is a catalyst, he could end up changing Morris’ family forever.”

Michael says The Fabulous Bagel Boys offers an original take on traditional cop shows which litter our TV screens.

“It’s strangely magnetic,” he says. “Anyone with a family will find something they identify with in this drama.”

And while most actors aspire to secure a major soap role, Michael has no regrets about leaving Albert Square.

“I was always amazed by the impression David gave. I found that quite difficult,” he says. “He was so well drawn, I used to think, ‘When am I going to get a character like that again?’ ”

With The Fabulous Bagel Boys, he may have found the answer.

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