Digital Spy caught up with Case Sensitive star and generally top actress Williams to discuss the latest two-parter, the chances of a third series and her ambition to become an iconic TV cop...
> Darren Boyd Case Sensitive Q&A: 'There's a very different dynamic'
Were you happy with the reaction to Case Sensitive last year?
"I'm not only happy... I don't want to put anyone down or anything, but I'm quite surprised! It's terrible how doing these things makes you a ratings addict, but we were up against some seriously tough other channels.
"A friend - who I'm also a massive fan of - was also in a female-led cop show, and we were looking at the Sunday papers. Brenda Blethyn's show [ITV's Vera] had a much bigger billing than my show and she was being a bit unattractively triumphant!
"So I'm afraid when the viewing figures came out for Case Sensitive, I sent her an extremely smug text. I was very pleased and somewhat surprised. Not that's it's a competition in any way!"
How did fans of Sophie Hannah's original novels react to the show?
"I've got a small part in the movie Anna Karenina and the woman doing my hair... her knowledge of the novels of Sophie Hannah is almost terrifying! She was really interesting actually - it was good to hear what she loved about the novels.
"I mean, I know why I like them, but to hear from someone who had been a fan for a long time was interesting."
How does it feel to be coming back for a second series as Charlie?
"Well, that's something that I've almost got a bit paranoid about in my career, because I've rarely gone back to work with people a second time - not because I don't want to, but because they never asked! So there is the absolute pleasure to not have to go through all the beginning stuff again, of how you work and what works best.
"I have that shorthand with Darren, who is delightful playing Simon Waterhouse. We now have a complete way of working that is intuitive and right for the parts. We have the same unspoken understanding that Simon and Charlie have in the show… it really rocked.
"And although we keep Sophie Hannah's murder plots very close to her stories, we've actually taken a few liberties with the relationship between Charlie and Simon, and Hat Trick [the producers] are completely into talking to Darren and me about where we feel that relationship should go, so it's really pro-active - to get that much input into the collaborative creative process is really exciting.
"There's a sense that what we're doing as actors and what we're bringing to it is actually influencing how the characters are progressing. That doesn't normally happen in your career."
Do you still use the novels for background or do you rely just on the scripts now?
"I still go back to the novels, but it's very hard to go from a 300-400 page novel to a two-hour TV show - you simply cannot contract all those emotions and motivations into the time given. So there comes a point where you just have to stick to the script and say, 'I have to change my mind here once and stick with that view'.
"Whereas in the novel there are a thousand more changes of heart, but once you've got the script you're looking at it and trying to pick the climax in each scene. In each scene, there needs to be some form of conflict and some form of drama. Once we're shooting it's the script only."
When I spoke to you before series one aired, you mentioned that you were hoping to work more in UK television. Is that something that you are still pursuing?
"It's utterly impossible to create a career; you are completely subject to whatever you're offered. But I have managed to harness some power back...
"My husband [Rhashan Stone] wrote a script and wrote me a gorgeous role [in Sky Arts Playhouse Presents special 'City Hall']. So I did do one other TV show this year."
If the second series is a big a hit as the first, do you think we'll see a third series of Case Sensitive in the future?
"My crystal ball is extremely faulty! My agent says that ITV has gently found out my availability for a possible third, but I'm not taking out a mortgage on the assumption that I'm going to get paid, yet!"
You also mentioned last year that you were a fan of Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect and her character Jane Tennison. If Case Sensitive continues, do you think Charlie Zailer could be that iconic as a TV detective?
"Yes please! I don't think she will, but it would be very nice. You can't break ground with that, because the ground has already been broken. Prime Suspect launched a thousand female cop shows.
"But if I am ever in the history of TV cop shows and I'm put in the same sentence as Helen Mirren, I shall be very proud. I would then hope that we take that ball and run with it and create something new and different.
"If we do go again [for a third series] there are issues about policing and society that I would like to see included. Also different styles of filmmaking. What was so astonishing about Prime Suspect was the way that it shot London and London life - there's both an ugliness and a beauty to it.
"I would love to continue with that. In both series of Case Sensitive and particularly in this one, there is some astonishing camera work that is innovative and beautiful and that you would see in a movie. It's the sort of thing that takes your breath away and I'm really proud of that."
Case Sensitive returns on Thursday (July 12) at 9pm on ITV1.