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He's a man convicted of the callous murder of his wife and young daughter... And now he’s on the run.

He is Neil Byrne, an undercover Government operative who is now heading back to Manchester's gangland pursed by criminals, spycatchers and the law in a bid to reveal the truth behind the brutal killings.

And for Yorkshire star Sean Bean, the new ITV drama series "Extremely Dangerous" was the sort of show that was too good to miss.

"It was a really brilliant project, a psychological drama as opposed to a purely action based show," he says.

"I liked trying to get into this man's head and what was going on in his mind. He’s been through this awful tragedy, this intense trauma where he's getting flashbacks and he's not quite sure himself that he hasn’t committed a crime."

"It's not very often that actors are offered fuller, more complex roles in front of the camera. More often it's on stage where you get the more interesting parts. But increasingly, with more innovative and imaginative directors and producers, they are coming across to television, with people not afraid to get under the skin."

The past few years have seen Sean balancing a career between cinema and small screen, with popular TV shows like Sharpe's Rifles and the one-off Gulf War adventure Bravo Two Zero running alongside major movie projects like Ronin, Goldeneye and Patriot Games. But he is particularly attracted by Murray Smith's story of a man who, having lost his wife, daughter and freedom, has nothing more to lose.

"The first script got such a good response from everybody from the word go," he says.

"The script is not what I expected at all. It's not a Fugitive take off, it's not a thing where anybody is going to get let off the hook, it's relentless all the way to the end - there's no let up at all.

"Byrne has a definite aim - to regain his freedom, discover who the killers are and then to find them. There is nothing for Byrne that exists beyond that act, nothing after that matters."

Add to that standard of writing a cast that includes Middlemarch star Juliet Aubrey and Sean was confident he was onto a winner.

"It's interesting writing and with a cast of essentially character actors, it was going to be good.

"There's a really fresh feeling between everyone coming to it, which is a plus. I hadn’t worked really closely with any of the cast before. I had worked with Juliet before, quite a long time ago, but generally none of us knew each other and that gave the production a certain sharpness and newness on set."

A tight shooting schedule also ensured that the sharpness was maintained right through to the final take.

"This was a very focused shoot. Mainly because we didn’t have that long to do it," Sean admits.

"People got tired occasionally but they were very focused and very passionate and that’s what shows at the end of the day."

And even though it is closer to a psychological drama then adventure, fans will be pleased to hear that there's still the usual quota of Bean action scenes.

"I keep myself fairly fit for all the stunts and I quite enjoy it," Sean says. "Because of the nature of the piece, there is a fair amount of violence but my role was to make it as real as possible and not just to have a fight coming out of nowhere because we haven’t had one for 5 minutes or because it had been half an hour since the last one."


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