Robson Green realised a dream by filming Wire in the Blood: Prayer of the Bone in Texas, even though it meant working in a heatwave alongside rattlesnakes. "When we started Coastal Productions more than 10 years ago we had an ambition to make films in America. It's so exciting to have pulled it off, especially as we're a small indie from the north east of England," says Robson.
"Dr Tony Hill is sent to America as an expert witness in a murder trial. Patrick Harbinson wrote a brilliant script about him being an alien in a foreign land. We filmed in 111F heat but I was there in a Barbour jacket, moleskin trousers, Doc Martens and backpack because Tony comes ill-equipped wardrobe-wise. We had to do that to make it work dramatically but I was OK. As long as you drink enough water it's fine. Some people have to do physical work in that heat all the time and they're not pampered or offered Gatorade."
At the trial, Darius Grady (Brad Hawkins) is accused of brutally killing his family. The prosecution want Tony to help them prove that Darius was not suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the time. Explains Robson: "During the trial Tony realises very early on that neither the prosecution for the defence want him anywhere near the case. Things are not what they seem and they want him out of there because he's on to something."
Tony is shocked when a deadly venomous rattlesnake is left in his car - a scene that was an equally frightening scene for Robson, who hates snakes. "Our executive producer Sandra Jobling rang me up and asked 'how are you with rattlesnakes?' I said she'd better get a stunt double in because I'm not sitting next to one. But luckily we had a great rattlesnake wrangler and I didn't have to share a car with it!"
Snakes aside, Robson really enjoyed the experience of filming in Austin, Texas, which doubles for the fictional town of Luther. "I get very excited about working abroad and I don't take it for granted. Austin is a really vibey town. There's jazz, blues, bluegrass and of course country and western, plus all that great Tex-Mex food. Work came first but as an adventure I really enjoyed the whole thing.
"One of the best experiences was going to the Rodeo and dressing up as cowboys, complete with the boots, hat and bootlace tie. I thought it might be a bit naff but there was a real sense of occasion. The boys and girls riding the horses looked so cool and they were lassoing calves and jumping. It's their version of theatre. We also went to San Antonio and visited the Alamo."
Robson took his wife Vanya and seven-year-old son Taylor with him to Texas. "Taylor is so into the bug life so he was in his element. He says he saw a bug the size of a rabbit! The bugs were everywhere but I was immersing myself in a spray called Bug Off which seemed to do the job. Poor Sandra was very badly affected, though, because she got attacked by chiggers and her skin turned into a bubbling Martian landscape. What did I do to help her? I took pictures!"
Since filming Prayer of the Bone, Robson has been to the other side of the world - Australia. "I went to Australia primarily to promote Wire in the Blood but I got involved in a Mike Bullen project while I was there. It was really weird because Sandra and I had been talking about the possibility of doing some Wire specials in Australia and getting a writer like Mike Bullen involved. Just a few hours later I was asked to do Mike's pilot in Australia!"
The comedy-drama, entitled Make or Break, stars Robson as a man who moves to Australia to make a new start with his wife after she's had an affair. "We know as human beings that you can't solve relationship problems by moving to another country, you just pack your emotional baggage with you. But my character tries to sort out his life there with complete comedic results. It's a lovely tale with some joyous one-liners."
Adds Robson: "I've been to Australia a lot and there's something wonderfully calming about it. Coming into Sydney harbour and seeing the vista of the bridge - it's great. I love working in Australia and many of my programmes are very popular there but it was hard to be away from the family for six weeks."
Robson is now busy on the sixth series of Wire in the Blood for ITV1, filmed in his home town of Newcastle and co-starring Simone Lahbib. "We film until March making eight one-hour episodes and the stories are very strong again. I'm so proud of Wire especially as it's sold to 30 countries. It's great when something you believe in is enjoyed by so many different people. Long may it continue."
After that, a new project for Coastal Productions will take Robson behind the camera. "We've just been commissioned by ITV to make an adaptation of Val McDermid's Place of Execution. It's a wonderful thriller set in the 1950s with some great twists and turns. I'll be working as an executive producer which is what I've been aiming towards. I know I've been in a lot of productions with Coastal but we are always pushing the envelope in terms of getting other stuff done and Place of Execution fits that remit."
Robson's many credits include City Lights, Soldier Soldier, Casualty, Unconditional Love, Trust, Touching Evil, Close and True, Reckless, Grafters and Rocket Man. He also recently recorded Michael Morpurgo's novel Private Peaceful for Radio 2.