McDonald & Dodds explores the world of Formula 1

Sunday: McDonald & Dodds - (ITV, 8pm)

For devotees of this crime drama, it really is the gift that keeps on giving, and for the uninitiated – where have you been, we’re on series three?

It follows the wildly ambitious DCI Lauren McDonald, played by the brilliant Tala Gouveia, and Jason Watkins as her shy colleague DS Dodds. Thrown together, the chalk-and-cheese pair have forged an entertaining, effective partnership and friendship as they tackle puzzling cases.

This week, they’re immersed in the world of Formula 1 after Bath’s famous motorsport dynasty, the Addingtons, report that their up-and-coming driver has died during a sub-3.5-second pit stop.

DCI Lauren McDonald and DS Dodds

As an avid F1 fan, McDonald refuses to let patriarch Archie Addington ride roughshod over her, but is blindsided when someone from her past surfaces.

It is, naturally, one of Dodds’ specialisms that helps uncover the darker side of success and finally unravel the truth.

Speaking about this episode, Tala says: “We filmed it at Haynes Motor Museum in this room filled with all these amazing red sports cars, it was very flash. F1 is one of McDonald’s favourite things, she’s a superfan, so it’s a really exciting case for her. She’s a bit of a fangirl at the beginning but, as the case takes over, she gets a bit more controlled and less excited, and she sees the darker side of the industry. It’s like when they say ‘don’t meet your heroes’.”

Tala goes on: “Lauren has a personal distraction running through that case, it’s quite a whirlwind for her. We still don’t get to meet her boyfriend, but she’s still with him. There are certain doubts in her mind at this point, and you get more of an idea of their relationship.”

Jason couldn’t be happier to be back in Dodds’ shoes, enthusing: “He’s such an interesting man – seemingly quite straight-forward, but actually rather complicated and I think audiences enjoy that about him. He’s often the one who you think is least likely to solve the case and yet he ends up having the little bit of insight that cracks it.”

He adds: “We always bleed out little facts about him, trinkets of information. We already know that he was married briefly at some point and he’s always shy and a bit damaged by that. He’s slightly overawed by women in general, he just finds it difficult. I think what’s great about his double act with McDonald is that they both help each other. She is more emotionally intelligent than him and helps him solve some of his emotional puzzles quite gently.

“She’s trying to help him have a fuller life because he has boxed off parts of his life and has decided not to have relationships, but she tells him he should. Then he tries to help her with her boyfriend in a paternal way. It gives a great depth to the series and I think audiences really enjoy that.”

As for the drama’s success, Jason says: “It’s a nice feeling that the show is finding its audience, it’s sold in 120 different countries now and that’s a compliment to everyone’s hard work.

“We’re not complacent, we know what the strength of this show is, but it’s a matter of looking after it.”