Cruising for a killing: A cruise ship crooner teams up with his first officer to solve crimes in a quirky new whodunnit series
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You don’t often get a free cruise thrown in while making a TV series, but actors Shayne Ward, Catherine Tyldesley and Claire Sweeney enjoyed six weeks at sea aboard the 6,000-berth MSC Virtuosa while filming new Channel 5 drama The Good Ship Murder.
‘It was a fully functioning cruise ship,’ explains Claire, who also stars in Coronation Street, on which both Shayne and Catherine had leading roles too.
‘Every week we’d dock at Southampton to get a different group of passengers on, so we didn’t have professional extras in the show – we used the passengers, and they loved it.
‘We were in separated areas so they could enjoy their holiday and we could film, but if they wanted to be extras they could. Then they’d get off and we’d start all over again.’
The eight-part series of gentle murder mysteries blends ship-based drama with weekly bumpings-off that pique the interest of the ship’s resident crooner Jack Grayling (former X Factor winner Shayne, who played Aidan Connor in Corrie).
You don’t often get a free cruise thrown in while making a TV series, but actors Shayne Ward, Catherine Tyldesley (pictured together) and Claire Sweeney enjoyed six weeks at sea aboard the 6,000-berth MSC Virtuosa while filming new Channel 5 drama The Good Ship Murder
As an ex-cop – a career Jack quit to focus on his first love of singing – he can’t resist investigating the murders, which occur at sea and in port, at destinations including Lisbon, Barcelona and Malta.
Jack soon teams up with the ship’s First Officer Kate Woods (Catherine, whose Corrie character Eva Price was in a relationship with Shayne’s Aidan).
‘We just loved working together again,’ says Shayne, 38. ‘Because we’d played a couple on-screen for three years, we were so comfortable with each other.
‘But Jack and Kate are far removed from Aidan and Eva, and that was refreshing. Hopefully viewers will be able to see that genuine bond on screen, even though Kate can’t really stand Jack at first because he’s a terrible flirt.
‘Also, she’s an officer and Jack is lower deck, and the two don’t mix.’
Catherine, 40, reveals filming was tricky for her as she’d just given birth to her second child, Iris. ‘It was difficult,’ she admits. ‘There was a lot of coffee, put it that way. But my husband Tom is incredible.
‘When my agent rang and said, “You’ve got the job. Can you go out to Malta?”, Tom said, “Get on the plane, we’ll sort it out.” But my hormones were still all over the place. Poor Shayne, the amount of times I cried to him.’
Claire is playing Tyrone Dobbs’s drug-addled mother Cassie Plummer on Corrie, and she glams up significantly as The Good Ship Murder’s entertainments director Beverley.
The eight-part series of gentle murder mysteries blends ship-based drama with weekly bumpings-off that pique the interest of the ship’s resident crooner Jack Grayling (former X Factor winner Shayne, who played Aidan Connor in Corrie)
‘She’s immaculate and such a contrast to Cassie, which is a joy,’ says Claire, 52. ‘Her job is her life and it’s about being in charge.
‘That’s her ship, and when the murders happen, all Beverley wants to know is, “Will the juggler still be able to go on?” But later on you get glimpses of her vulnerabilities.’
Amusingly, Claire’s costume often confused passengers. ‘I’d be going up to the buffet for lunch with my officer’s uniform on and passengers would come up to ask me directions or what time the ballroom class was on,’ she laughs.
‘I found it easier in the end just to answer their questions rather than try to explain who I was.’
As the singer Jack, Shayne got to do a big set-piece number each week to an audience of real passengers.
‘For every song the director needed at least ten camera angles, so you’re singing the same song over and over,’ explains Shayne.
‘But the audience were great. They kept cheering whenever they had to. Every time you get that live audience, it’s like a shot of adrenaline.’
The Good Ship Murder, Friday, 9pm, Channel 5
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