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Professor T's Ben Miller: 'Jasper starts to crack up in prison!'

 Jasper Tempest (Ben Miller) looking startled in a blue prison uniform in Professor T season 3.
Jasper Tempest (Ben Miller) looking startled in a blue prison uniform in Professor T season 3.

Professor Jasper Tempest (Ben Miller) was left facing an uncertain future at the end of season two of ITV crime drama Professor T.

After his colleague and former lover, DCI Christina Brand (Juliet Aubrey) summoned her corrupt detective boyfriend Simon Lanesborough (Alastair Mackenzie) to inform him that she was aware of his dodgy behaviour, she pulled a gun on him and a fight broke out between the two — a fight which was broken up by the Professor firing a rifle into the ceiling of DCI Brand's office.

Nobody was harmed and Simon was apprehended, but the Professor was arrested for discharging an unlicensed firearm in a police station, and was warned by his protegée, DS Lisa Donckers (Emma Naomi) that he could be facing a long wait on remand.

As season three of Professor T begins, the Professor — who has obsessive-compulsive disorder — has indeed been taken to prison to await trial, and it's clear that this is not likely to be an environment in which he will thrive in. But will he be able to survive his time inside long enough to clear his name?

We caught up with star Ben Miller to find out what lies ahead for Professor Tempest in Professor T season 3...

Ben Miller interview for Professor T season 3

How does the Professor cope with the prospect of life behind bars?

"He actually ends up going to prison in season three for quite a long time! What starts initially as discharging a firearm soon becomes attempted murder, and he's then facing really quite a substantial sentence, so things get really serious. And of course prison is the worst place for him, because he likes his creature comforts, he likes his very orderly world in his ivory tower, and to be ripped out of that and thrown into a cell that he's got to share with another human being — it's not his favourite thing! Shocking hygiene, terrible food, it's a real struggle — except of course for the silver lining that he's fascinated by the criminals that he finds himself surrounded by. He's pulled in two directions at once: wanting to get out of there as fast as he possibly can, but also wanting to make the most of the opportunity to observe the criminal mind at close hand!"

Dr Helena Goldberg (Juliet Stevenson) stands behind the right shoulder of Professor Jasper Tempest (Ben Miller) in a mahogany-panelled room. She has the faintest hint of a smile, he looks entirely serious.
Dr Helena Goldberg (Juliet Stevenson) stands behind the right shoulder of Professor Jasper Tempest (Ben Miller) in a mahogany-panelled room. She has the faintest hint of a smile, he looks entirely serious.

Does he get many visitors while he's in prison?

"His therapist [Dr Helena Goldberg, played by Juliet Stevenson] is permitted to visit him in prison. Their therapy really starts to take off because he starts to crack up in the prison, and that makes him vulnerable, which makes him able to be more honest in his therapy sessions, and he really starts to make some progress. The mystery of Professor T has always been about what happened with his father — we've seen these fractured memories of him seeing his father hanging when he was a boy, and others have involved him with a shotgun to his father's chest — in this season, we do find out exactly what happened to his father the night he was murdered, and obviously that then has huge implications for season four."

Professor Jasper Tempest (Ben Miller) and his mother Adelaide (Frances de la Tour) stand in front of a mahogany panelled wall. He is wearing a suit and white plastic gloves, and standing upright. She is wearing a large fur coat and a leopard-print wide-brimmed hat accessorised with orange leather gloves, and is leaning forward with her chin resting on her right hand.

The memories stirred up in his therapy sessions led to his relationship with his mother, Adelaide, going downhill. Where are they at this point?

"Their relationship gets worse in this series! In fact, he won't let Adelaide [played by Frances de la Tour] visit him in prison, and that becomes very difficult for her and for him. Their relationship deteriorates further and further throughout these six stories, it's quite sad. But as he begins to acknowledge his trauma in his therapy, he starts to blame his mother more and more. I love acting with Frances and Juliet, it was so much really juicy stuff."

DCI Maiya Goswami (Sunetra Sarker) sits in a high-backed leather chair at her desk, holding up her hands in some sort of protesting gesture
DCI Maiya Goswami (Sunetra Sarker) sits in a high-backed leather chair at her desk, holding up her hands in some sort of protesting gesture

Sunetra Sarker is set to join the show during season three as DCI Maiya Goswami. What can you tell us about her character?

"Well, she and the Professor don't get on! She works from the gut, and she's a real people person — she can't see what on earth the police have been doing, having some cranky academic professor helping them with cases. She's like 'no, this guy is out, this is not happening, this is totally against procedure!' So they really get off on the wrong foot, and it's interesting because that brings out a new side of Professor T — for the first time we see him wanting to prove himself to somebody and earn respect. He doesn't just have to fight for his position there, but also in the faculty of criminology, because of course other people have moved in on his patch. No one hangs around in academia!"

The series has already been renewed for a fourth season before season three aired. That must have been a huge vote of confidence?

"I know, it's very exciting! And one of the nice things for me is that I think we start filming in the second week of April, so season three will be going out at the same time. We'll really be able to immerse ourselves in this world while we're doing it!"

  • Professor T season three launches on Wednesday March 27 at 9pm. All six episodes will be available on ITVX from launch, and seasons one and two are available to catch-up on ITVX now.