Everything you need to know about Blue Lights on BBC

blue lights BBC cast

by Arabella Horspool |
Published on

Set in Belfast, Blue Lights is a TV drama that focuses on recruits joining the police force and what that entails for them specifically in Northern Ireland. Written by Declan Lawn, Adam Patterson and Fran Harris, it's gripping, intense and authentic and also contains lashings of dark humour.

Blue Lights series one was watched by an average of 6.5 million viewers per episode (according to Northern Ireland Screen), placing it in the top 10 new drama series of 2023 across all streaming and broadcasting channels.

Here's everything you need to know about the first series, ahead of series two.

Blue Lights cast

The cast of the Blue Lights television show is led by Siân Brooke, Katherine Devlin and Nathan Braniff who play three of the probationers. They are also joined by Richard Dormer, Martin McCann, John Lynch, Valene Kane, Andi Osho and Joanne Crawford.

The cast underwent lots of research for the role, with Siân Brooke saying, "We were lucky enough to visit a PSNI station and talked at length with the officers there. This was invaluable, as they gave us so many insights into what the actual day-to-day life of a serving officer is really like and how it impacts upon their personal life - checking underneath their car each time they drive to work, not being able to tell their children exactly what their job was and the constant shift changes."

Siân Brooke as Constable Grace Ellis

©BBC/Gallagher Films/Two Cities Television

Siân Brooke (Sherlock, Trying) plays new recruit Constable Grace Ellis, who decides to join the police force in her 40s after being a social worker for many years. She's a single-parent to a 17-year-old son and is juggling being a mum with learning how to do a new job.

Katherine Devlin as Constable Annie Conlon

©BBC/Gallagher Films/Two Cities Television

Catholic probationer Annie Conlon is a fiery and impulsive character who perhaps isn't as confident as her exterior personality suggests.

Speaking to the BBC, Katherine said "It (Blue Lights) embodies truth. People from Northern Ireland tend to shroud serious situations with humour and we really get a feel for that in the script. There’s also a real honesty in the script to the realities of Northern Ireland in the present day, as we’re still battling issues that have come from The Troubles."

Nathan Braniff as Constable Tommy Foster

©BBC/Gallagher Films/Two Cities Television

Tommy Foster is on the fast-track programme, which means that police constables can reach the rank of inspector within two years, giving them less time on the front line.

His mentor Gerry (played by Richard Dormer) is a seemingly easy-going office who encourages Tommy to come out his shell, as he's quite a nervous new recruit.

Having lived in Belfast for most of his life, actor Nathan Braniff says that that he “could tell the first time reading his script” that the writers are from Northern Ireland and really knew what they were talking about.

Martin McCann as Constable Stevie Neil

©BBC/Gallagher Films/Two Cities Television

Stevie is an introverted extrovert, played by Northern Irish actor Martin McCann. He's used to flying solo, but when he takes new probationer Grace under his wing, his outlook on policing starts to change and he forms feelings he didn't expect to have.

Richard Dormer as Constable Gerry Cliff

©BBC/Gallagher Films/Two Cities Television

Richard Dormer (Game of Thrones, Fortitude) plays the easy-going veteran on the job who has seen it all. He cracks a lot of jokes but he follows what he believes is morally right.

Talking about his character's relationship with newcomer Tommy, Richard said, "We see a lot of jousting and ribbing going on between them – mainly Gerry taking the mick out of Tommy – but he genuinely cares for him as if he was his own."

John Lynch as James McIntyre

©Gallagher Films/Two Cities Television

James McIntyre is the head of a Republican crime family who directs a lot of his anger towards his son.

Actor John Lynch (Lassie, The Fall) discussed his character's bitterness in a Q&A with the BBC and said, "A man that lives the kind of life he leads has to hate himself to a point. He’s poisoned inside. He takes pleasure in exercising his power and isn’t shy about intimidating people or putting his foot through a door. He’s a complex man and if you pushed him he’d come out swinging punches."

Valene Kane as Angela Mackle

©Gallagher Films/Two Cities Television

Angela Mackle is the mother of Gordon 'Gordy' Mackle, a teenager who works for the McIntyres.

Valene Kane plays Angela and she has also starred in BBC's Thirteen and The Fall, as well as the film Nowhere Special with James Norton.

Andi Osho as Sergeant Sandra Cliff

©BBC/Gallagher Films/Two Cities Television

Actress and stand-up comedian Andi Osho stars as Sandra Cliff the main custody sergeant, who's married to Gerry. She's responsible for booking in and processing those who are arrested.

When asked by the BBC what audiences can expect from the series, Andi said: "A completely different experience of a police drama, it’s not doing what a lot of police dramas do. It’s a refreshing take on a police drama. There’s not a lot of main stream shows set in Northern Ireland, it’s about time, I like this decentralisation of tv around the UK. It was such an eye-opening different world that I think people are going to really enjoy."

Joanne Crawford as Sergeant Helen McNally

©BBC/Gallagher Films/Two Cities Television/Steffan Hill

Sergeant McNally is the second highest ranking officer at the station. She is firm but fair and truly cares about her probationers. Unlike some of the other characters, we don't get to see much of her life outside of her work.

When asked about her character by the BBC, Joanne Crawford said "Even though the first time we see her she’s telling people what to do, she’s not just throwing her weight about - she’s trying to find the right path for these probationers. Her life is very much in the station so every decision she makes is very much about the people. For me I think she’s about the job rather than the career which is different to others around her."

How many episodes of Blue Lights are there?

There are six Blue Lights episodes in series one. Currently, little information has been released about series' 2-4, but the BBC have confirmed that each one will contain six parts.

When is Blue Lights on TV?

Series 1 was released in 2023 and premiered on the 27th March. Blue Lights season 2 is currently in post-production and is expected to air in spring 2024.

Following the success of the first series and the excitement for series 2, the BBC have re-commissioned Blue Lights for two more series, meaning that we'll see a lot more of this much-loved show. Exciting!

You can catch-up on series one of Blue Lights on iPlayer now.

Arabella Horspool is a Commercial Content Writer for Yours at Bauer Media. She's a bookworm who enjoys cooking and spending time with her many pets.

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