Stephen Merchant felt 'a great responsibility' when playing Stephen Port in Four Lives

Virgin Radio

29 Mar 2023, 10:22

Stephen Merchant

Credit: Getty

Released last year, BBC drama Four Lives tells the true story of the courageous families of four young gay men who lost their lives to killer Stephen Port, played by Stephen Merchant. At The Royal Television Society Programme Awards 2023 in London last night, the actor spoke exclusively to about how the show is “a good example of how TV at its best can draw attention to important social issues.”

Merchant, better known for his comedy work in the likes of Outlaws and Extras, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his chilling performance of a killer in Four Lives. Speaking to from the red carpet at the RTS Awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Tuesday (28th March), he said: “I feel very honoured because it was the first sort of major dramatic role that I'd done. And also, it was a very important, I think, piece of TV, raising awareness about something that needed to be drawn to people's attention. And so, therefore, I felt a great responsibility.”

Talking about what drew him to his first dramatic role, he told us: “I think it was the script, I think that it was a story that I hadn't heard anything about. And I feel, in a way, a little bit ashamed that I didn't know anything about it until I got the script. 

“And I think that was the importance of the piece, you know? And raising awareness about these police failings around this case. I felt like it was a good example of how TV at its best can draw attention to important social issues. And I was really pleased to be part of it.”

He continued: “It seemed like it started the conversation, it drew the case to people's consciousness.”

Despite taking on this more serious role, the comedy star explained that he has “started doing some stand-up again, after quite a while.”

He added: “I've been really enjoying that, chiefly because people know who I am when I come on stage, so I get a round of applause. It's a nice massage to the ego, I can leave after that, I don't even do any jokes!”

Find out who won what at last night’s RTS Awards.