The new two-part “Luther” special isn’t slated to air for a little while yet, but today Empire has spoken with show creator and producer Neil Cross to talk about the new episodes and the return of Idris Elba to one of his most iconic characters.
The third series ended on some fairly major events, and Cross says that what we last saw was the end of ‘Chapter One’ while this fourth series will be the beginning of ‘Chapter Two’ and sees the inclusion of Rose Leslie to the cast as Luther goes on the hunt for a cannibal killer. Cross indicates that he thought the third series was the end for the character:
“I honestly thought we were done – and I thought being done would be like finishing a novel, that accidentally catching an episode on repeat would be like looking at a photograph of friends I used to know and love who’d since drifted out of my life; that happy sad tug at the gut.
But it wasn’t like that at all. I kept wondering about John Luther: what would happen next? What would he do? Where would he go? Was he happy? It was Idris who raised the idea of coming back – during a press interview at an award ceremony, I think. Seeing a glimmer of opportunity, I didn’t hesitate for a second to put the band back together. And here we are.”
Cross admits for a while there a “Luther” movie adaptation did seem like a natural progression to him, but he “had to interrogate and ultimately distrust that desire”:
“The only viable reason to move Luther to the big screen would be if that enabled us to do it better – but more importantly, only if we could do so while treating the show’s existing fans with the respect they deserve. I’m acutely aware that we owe our audience a massive debt of honour, and in the end I wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do by them.
The BBC commissioned Luther off the back of a deranged and haphazard pitch I delivered one afternoon, where I did a lot more arm waving than talking sense. The BBC stuck with the show after series one, when a large and apparently baffled chunk of our original audience walked away. So when I seriously came to think about leaving the BBC to set up shop somewhere else, I felt pre-emptively homesick.
So we’ve shelved the plans for a feature; perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently. Who knows? What’s most important is that we do what we think is right by the show, by the characters, and by the audience.”
Of course one question that’s always asked – will Ruth Wilson’s Alice Morgan return?
“I love Alice unreservedly… If I could be anybody, I’d be Alice Morgan. Or The Doctor. But Alice won’t be returning in this series. Like I say, it felt important to begin a new chapter in Luther’s life; to tell a different story, to meet new people, to expand Luther’s world – to keep making the show new and surprising. And scary, I hope.”
The fourth series of “Luther” is expected to air early December on BBC One.