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George Gently : Playing Ricky Deeming

Richard Armitage in George GentlyRichard Armitage played Geordie biker Ricky Deeming in the BBC's adaptation of a detective novel by Alan Hunter, "Gently Go Man".

The character in the novel is called Dicky Deeming, but he was renamed 'Ricky' in the TV drama. He's the leader of a biker gang called the Durham Defenders, two of whose members have been murdered. Deeming is one of the chief suspects in the murders.

He is a charismatic figure, adored by the members of his gang. He lives for speed, explaining the attraction of it to George Gently as "when you and the bike are one, the machine, the ghost in the machine..."

He despises conventional lives, "dead-end jobs, hand-me-down values, second-hand opinions". A former grammar school boy, he has a dead-end job himself, working in a breakers yard. But he lives for the biker gang, which provides its members with "a family, a shared set of values".

Although his sexuality is never made clear, he's thought by some of the characters to be gay, at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in Britain. This puts him in danger from homophobic gangster Joe Webster as the drama builds to a nail-biting climax.

For Richard Armitage, one of the challenges of the role was learning to ride a motorbike.

"I had to learn how to ride an old 60s motorbike, a Manx Norton," he said during filming. "It's a racing bike, so your body is really quite flat to the machine. But it's a genuine bike, so you have to kick-start it. It's a bit temperamental in cold weather - it was spluttering a bit yesterday because it was so damp.

"Although I have to drive at speed, I haven't managed to quite get it out of first gear yet. It's all worked by your foot, and to get it into second gear you have to get your toe under the gear and tap it upwards. I haven't mastered that one yet, so I've been doing about 50mph in first. But you won't notice that, hopefully." [1]

Another challenge was mastering the Geordie accent. "Ricky's from Durham, and there are so many North East accents," he said. "I was lucky though, because the last job I did was The Vicar of Dibley, and one of the drivers was from Durham. When I heard him speak, I dug out a tape recorder and said, 'Excuse me, mate, but could you record these lines for me?' " [2]

In an interview in the TV Times in March 2007, he seemed unsure how good the accent was, "Apologies to every Geordie out there!" [3] But the TV Times previewer the week the show was aired praised his "excellent north-east accent". [4]

He seems entirely comfortable in the Geordie accent, and Ricky Deeming proves to be one of his most vividly realised characters.


[1] Radio Times, 7-13 April 2007 (page 1, page 2)
[2] Radio Times, 7-13 April 2007
[3] TV Times, 17-23 March 2007
[4] TV Times, 7-13 April 2007

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