Curfew interview: the director talks Sky’s new street race drama

Den of Geek chats exclusively to Colm McCarthy about cars, Carpenter and creatures of the night

Sky’s new original production Curfew has released its first full trailer last month – it’s a genre mashup which sees the stars (Sean Bean, Billy Zane, Adrian Lester, Phoebe Fox, Malachi Kirby, Miranda Richardson and Robert Glenister) on an overnight ‘race for freedom’. It’s starts off what looks like fairly contemporary London, but that’s until night falls…

Colm McCarthy, who directed excellent zombie movie The Girl With All The Gifts and is no stranger to event TV having made episodes of Doctor Who, Sherlock, Peaky Blinders and the Black Mirror episode ‘The Black Museum’, heads up the show as exec producer and director on the first three episodes.

McCarthy sat down to chat with Den of Geek in this exclusive early interview on the show. Parts of this interview also appeared in the Den of Geek Magazine distributed at MCM Comic-Con.

The trailer for Curfew looks wild! How would you describe the show?

Colm McCarthy: Curfew is like nothing else on television, really. It’s a very unusual piece. Basically there’s a creature outbreak that takes over the world. The night becomes impossible. The daytime, in somewhere like London, is very similar to now. But at night, everybody locks themselves up in their homes. But once a year, there’s a madcap race that goes from dusk to dawn, for eight hours, and every year, it’s in a different country, in a different place. This year, it’s in the UK. It’s starting in London.

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So it’s the story of the race?

Exactly. So it’s one race. We start at the beginning and end at the end of the race. And each hour, we learn a little bit about a different person that’s in the race, and how they

got to be there. We learn some of the overall story of how the world got to be the way it is during the curfew. The heroes emerge over the course of the series in unexpectedly

interesting ways. But like something like Game of Thrones, we go through fairly unexpected journeys with the characters while they’re driving at 200 miles an hour and being pursued and chased by creatures and each other.

You’ve assembled an amazing cast including Sean Bean, Billy Zane, Adrian Lester and Miranda Richardson…

The tone of the show is unusual. It’s got this very heady, John Carpenter-esque sort of genre vibe to it, which is a lot of fun, hopefully. But it also has a very human heart. We want people to really care about these characters. We wanted really, really good actors.

The cars are a big part of the show, can you tell us about some of the vehicles?

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We wanted to nod to iconic race cars, and cars that people know and love. So there’s a Dodge Challenger, like the one from Vanishing Point. There’s a school bus that matched the one in Speed. We’ve got Lotus series Jaguars and Ferraris. There’s a McLaren in the first episode. There’s a Dodge Viper, which is one of the fastest and most unpredictable and most dangerous road cars in the world.

That must have been logistically challenging?

Television nowadays is like making big movies, you know? That’s just how it is. People expect a certain level. If you’re going to be an action show, a show that has action, you’ve got to be able to deliver something that’s going to be stunning.

I’ve got a 60-inch TV in my living room, and that’s not that weird now. That’s what people do. So you’ve got to be able to immerse people in a proper cinematic experience. But you also have to do the thing of telling a really engaging, emotional story that’s going to hook people in over that time.

The opening of the race, we had 36 stunt drivers all in the one shot, driving manically. But then we also really wanted to be in the race with our racers. So Phoebe Fox [who plays Kaye], who is not… her action credentials prior to this were slim. We had Ben Collins, who was the original Stig, who was doing a lot of our precision driving. So she went and trained with Ben.

She drives the ambulance, which is one of the hero vehicles, right in the midst of all of that stunt action with cars literally crashing into her vehicle, and driving down a ramp, and smashing through a crashed Ferrari.

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She’s doing all of that, and we’ve got a camera in her face while she’s doing it. So we wanted to immerse the audience properly into the experience. That went for all of them. You really need those moments where you’ve got Malachi Kirby [who plays Michael] really driving a McLaren through busy city streets at 110 miles an hour.

So it’s got all these crazy stunts, but there’s a real sense of Britishness too?

First and foremost, the first audience are going to be a British domestic audience. For them to be able to go, “Here’s this crazy, insane, John Carpenter-esque genre world, and there’s me and my family, or the family next door in the middle of it, with their chocolate Labrador, Brutus, in the back of their bashed-up Volvo, trying to survive…” And that makes it immediately relatable. But also, I think it gives it a uniqueness as a genre piece that will be fun for people.

All eight episodes of Curfew are available to watch now via Sky and NOW TV