Sky One’s new drama Temple doesn’t do things by half measures, wrapping an unusual concept into London’s underground with gore, romance and thriller elements battling for attention.
A remake of Norwegian TV series Valkyrien, it’s an especially bold project for first time executive producer Mark Strong. While he has a proven track record acting in joyously absurd projects like Kick Ass, Kingsman, and recently DC’s Shazam, Temple feels like a brave and challenging risk for anyone’s first time making decisions behind the camera.
Following a screening of the first two episodes to press, his extra involvement appears to have left him analytical of his own viewing habits when choosing what to watch.
‘I think the third [episode] is usually an extremely important one,’ Mark tells www8.sale-north-face.org. ‘That’s the one I think when I watch stuff that I usually decide whether I’m going to stick with it or not. And our third episode is really strong.’
‘But you’re right, the second one lets it breathe and you can relax, and the third one cranks up the energy again and takes it somewhere else.’
Temple follows Daniel Milton (Mark Strong), a surgeon who has set up an illegal clinic within the London Underground tunnels for desperate patients, including his wife Beth (Catherine McCormack).
A series of events bring transport employee Lee Simmons (Daniel Mays) and medical researcher Anna Willems (Carice Van Houten) into his unsavoury clinic, sparking concerns his attempt to save his wife could be jeopardised if the clinic’s existence is released to the world.
The concept is what attracted Mark to produce the project to begin with, noticing its potential after watching the pilot episode for the Norwegian original.
‘I watched the pilot and I remember thinking that’s really unusual,’ Mark said. ‘It was a level of storytelling that was so heightened and different from anything that I’d ever seen.
‘In this very crowded TV space we’re in at the moment where so much is getting made — how do you make something that’s interesting? How do you tell a story to somebody that people haven’t already seen? That I felt was the most important thing, to find a story that was different and I always felt that this was it.’
Mark’s jump into producing however wasn’t necessarily to satisfy a long-standing creative itch for the actor. Instead, he describes it as a chance opportunity which was too good to miss.
‘I think I got to the stage where over the years I’d learned some stuff,’ Mark said. ‘I know some stuff instinctively and even though I hadn’t produced, I feel like genuinely I have something to say about casting, locations, dialogue, all of those things because I’ve done so much in my time.
‘So to have the opportunity to do that was too good to turn down. It just basically meant I could have some quality control over what we were making.’
While it remains to be seen whether Temple will find an audience in the crowded TV landscape, Mark has taken some valuable, brutal lessons from the whole experience.
‘I’ve learnt how terrifying it is to actually make anything at all,’ Mark said.
‘The scaffolding required to build one of these shows is something that you’re normally not privy too. It’s a bit like seeing the wizard behind the curtain being an actor allowed into the production room, because the honest truth is you become aware of how hard everyone is working and how many cogs are required to keep the machine running.
‘As an actor, your job is to come in, hit your mark, say your lines, connect with the other actors and deliver the truth of the scene. But when that’s done, that’s your job done.
‘Whereas the producing element means there’s so much other stuff to think about; whether you’re shooting too slowly or too quickly, locations might fall through and you’ve got to work out what you’re going to do if that happens, if something happens that means a scene has to be deferred, you’ve gotta work out when that can be done. There’s a whole other level of stress to incorporate but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
‘If we’re lucky enough to get a second season and who knows, more, I would certainly be involved. I feel like this is my baby.’
Temple begins on Sky One Friday 13 September at 9pm, with all episodes available to stream on Sky Go.