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Various Interviews with Lorcan Cranitch


Cracker's Lorcan Cranitch is back from the near dead (Published 08/10/1995) 


Lorcan Cranitch plays Jimmy Beck, the most hated policeman in Britain, in the top drama series Cracker. At the end of the last episode he was seen with a gun barrel in his mouth. Holding the gun, her finger tightening on the trigger, was Penhaligon, the policewoman who suspected him of raping her. Then the screen went blank. Cut to the new series. It's four months later and Fitz is visiting Beck in hospital. Why has he been there so long? What's he being treated for? Find out next week on ITV when Cracker is back on screen. "Everyone was so convinced she pulled the trigger that even the police thought he was dead," says soft-spoken Dubliner Cranitch, 35, who brought Jimmy Beck to loathsome life. He explains: "I was crossing a road in Manchester one night when a patrol car pulled up next to me and a voice said: 'You making any more of that Cracker series, then?' I said yes. 'So it was all lies, was it?' said the copper. I told him he'd have to watch the new series." On screen, Beck is a nightmare - simmering with resentment, blinded by bigotry, smoldering with barely suppressed aggression. Off, there is reassuringly little of him in the man who made him live and breathe. Cranitch counts the day he was able to shave off Jimmy's moustache as one of the happiest of his life - though he still sports a respectable crop of designer stubble. He prefers loose-fitting slacks and shirts to Jimmy's semi-military suits and is more likely to be found lovingly stroking a piano keyboard than a gun. "Surprisingly, perhaps, I never get any hate mail," he says. "The curious and interesting thing is that many viewers look on him as a powerful character and really enjoy him. I've even had one or two admirers of the female variety. Could be a bit worrying!" 


Strangely, events in his own life keep linking him with Jimmy. "I was particularly upset by the rape scenes in the last series," he confesses. "You see, one night cycling home in London I heard a girl screaming, and went to see what was wrong. It was a rape in progress. I got another man to go with me, and we raced down an alleyway to find a man on top of a girl. As soon as he saw us he jumped up and ran away, but the poor girl was in such a state that she couldn't deal with having men anywhere near her - even the police when they came. It didn't help that I was covered in stubble and the rapist had a beard." On another occasion the character got him involved in a chase. "I was shopping in Manchester during my lunch break when a guy passed me running as though his life depended on it. Then another guy yelled: 'Stop him! He's got my case!' Well, Jimmy Beck took over. I was off like a greyhound. Out into Piccadilly Gardens we went, me playing Starsky and Hutch, and in the end he dropped the bag and made off." It was not until afterwards that the realization of what he had done set in. "I thought: Oh, come on, now! There's life and there's acting, and this was real life. What if I'd caught him up? I couldn't afford to have my face marked - I had another four scenes to shoot." A civil servant's son from Dublin who got involved with a theatre group at university and has had years of mainly stage work, he is still not used to national fame. The night Jimmy Beck nearly had his brains blown out, he was in his local when a man at the bar said: "Didn't I just see you with a gun in your mouth?" Lorcan shyly admitted it and bought the punter a drink. 


Starry he isn't. Perhaps it is also his background. He was used to his sister, a professional musician and composer, being the star of the family. If he were not an actor, he thinks he too might be a musician. He plays a mean piano. The role of Jimmy Beck, combined with his love of Dublin - "a great place to live because you can very quickly get out of it into the mountains and I like to get away from it all climbing" - brought him the love of his life, Jackie McKay. She was a journalist who came to interview him when he gave up his London flat and moved back to Dublin. They met again - he says by chance - a day or two later. He asked her out, she agreed, and they've been together ever since. For a man whose face has suddenly become known nationwide, he has a surprisingly laid-back lifestyle. He drives a second-hand, white Rover - "often mis- taken for a police car, which is ironic" - prefers a drink with the lads to a luvvie party, and never takes anything for granted. "After Cracker - what?" he says. "I'm taking a holiday for the first time in my working life, to make up my mind what to do next. I've had so many offers as a result of Jimmy Beck, I have to choose carefully. After all, this is a crazy business. You can be drinking champagne on Saturday night and sign-ing on the dole on Monday." He is a man with ready wit, too. Opinions pour out of him. He would most like to meet and have lunch with Jack Nicholson, he says - also famous for creating characters it is easy to hate - and would least like to lunch with his income tax inspector, for whom he has a healthy dislike. He lists his hates as piped music ("Greensleeves has a lot to answer for"), taxi drivers' opinions ("sometimes you're ashamed at even having heard them") and warm toilet seats. "I like quick wit. The most quick-witted thing I ever heard of was when a fellow actor was stopped by the police for a motoring offence. "They asked him if he wanted to make a statement, and he said he would, so they got out their notebooks and waited to write it down. He said: 'No! No! Not in the face! Please stop hitting me!' "They burst out laughing and told him just to bugger off. Trouble is, you can't do that twice. It would never work for me." With Jimmy Beck, it wouldn't work for anyone.



RECORD TV Defective detective  

John Millar meets the cracked copper who has come back the jaws of death


Lorcan Cranitch was as amazed as the millions of Cracker fans when the most hated man on the box came back from the dead. The 35-year-old Irish actor is Detective Sergeant Jimmy Beck, the cop DS Penhaligon accused of raping her. When we last saw Beck, Penhaligon had a gun in his mouth and was poised to pull the trigger. Since then millions of viewers - me included - thought that Beck was dead ... and good riddance to him. But tomorrow, when Cracker returns, Beck's back on the beat, protesting his innocence and working alongside Penhaligon. It's an astounding plot development from Cracker creator Jimmy McGovern. And Lorcan confessed that it had taken him aback. "I didn't know Jimmy Beck was coming back to Cracker till the beginning of the year. I had been convinced that he was dead. But you couldn't say for certain. "Jimmy McGovern, who is so much sharper than the rest of us, wrote a new story and worked backwards to how Jimmy could have got back to work. "I thought that I had been painted into a corner and there was no way the character couldn't be dead." To discover exactly how the sensational developments happen you'll have to tune into Cracker, which stars Robbie Coltrane as criminal psychologist Fitz and Geraldine Somerville as Penhaligon. 


Before Cracker, Lorcan - his name is the Irish for Lawrence - had been working on shows ranging from The Bill to The Magic Toy Shop. But this award-winning series has him into the limelight. "Because of the series my profile has gone through the roof," he admitted. "Yet three years ago I had just auditioned for a part in a TV drama. I had no idea that it would last me till this time. It has certainly changed my career. "As Robbie said: `It just shows how insignificant you were before Cracker'," he joked. THE only down side is the folk who appear to become confused between the actor and the character. "It does irritate me to have people give me the thumbs up and say: `Nice one, Jimmy'. I am not Jimmy Beck. "He's a terribly sad character. And sometimes the scenes were exhausting." Like big Robbie, Lorcan reckons that it's right to call a halt to the series when it's still at the top. At the moment, he is on the Dublin stage starring in The Only True History Of Lizzie Finn. And he should be kept busy after that because of his performance as Jimmy Beck. "There have been offers because of Cracker but thankfully there haven't been too many that were wanting me to play Mr Nasty."


The Unofficial Guide To Cracker 1999-2006