Hugh Laurie has described his character in political thriller Roadkill as a politician with ambitions to climb “the greasy pole”, who is mostly free from “the gravity of guilt”.
Written by Sir David Hare, the four-part drama stars the House actor as Peter Laurence, a Conservative Cabinet minister whose public and private life is being picked apart by his enemies.
As the personal revelations spiral, he is untroubled by guilt or remorse, expertly walking a high wire between glory and catastrophe as he seeks to further his own agenda.
Speaking about his role, Laurie, 61, said: “He begins the story at mid-Cabinet level as Transport Secretary and has ambitions to move up the greasy pole.
“The story is in some regards about the price he is prepared to pay to get to the top position and the price that he forces everyone else to pay, principally his family but also those who pledge their loyalty to him.
“He is a man who is relatively free of the gravity of guilt and whose life mission is to keep moving forward and not to look back.
“It sounds as if the story is entirely about me – it isn’t – there are three or four different stories interlocking in different places with different hopes or dreams being realised or dashed.”
Viewers will meet Laurence as he mounts a libel case against a newspaper.
Laurie said this was “generally speaking something that politicians don’t do, or are not advised to do, and certainly the political establishment do not approve of them doing it”.
The actor, best known for his comedy work with Stephen Fry, praised Sir David for his work.
He said: “It’s been enormously enjoyable to say David Hare’s words and also to work with the cast that’s been assembled for this.
“I wouldn’t be here without David Hare – he wrote what I think was the first film I was ever in called Plenty.
“I think I had three lines but it meant spending a week in the company of Meryl Streep and blimey.
“That was entirely because of his support and enthusiasm which I have tried to repay and failed.”
Peaky Blinders actress Helen McCrory stars as the Prime Minister Dawn Ellison.
She said: “I’ve been to Downing Street and I’ve met various prime ministers, but what is interesting is whatever your personal politics, they all have quite extraordinary, powerful presences in a room.”
The series also stars Sidse Babett Knudsen, Saskia Reeves, Sarah Greene, Patricia Hodge, Ophelia Lovibond, Pippa Bennett-Warner and Iain De Caestecker.
Roadkill is coming soon to BBC One and BBC iPlayer.