Meet the female Indiana Jones: Lauren Lee Smith reveals all about Frankie Drake

The Frankie Drake Mysteries start on Tuesday, January 23rd at 9pm on Alibi – watch the first episode now on the BT Player.

Mixing the addictive crimes and cases of Murdoch Mysteries with 1920s speakeasy glamour, Alibi’s Frankie Drake Mysteries looks set to be one of the TV hits of 2018.

Taking us back to the Golden Age of crime and the jazz clubs and speakeasies of Toronto, the drama follows the rebellious Frankie Drake and the adventures of her Private Detective Agency.

[Read more: Meet the cast of Frankie Drake Mysteries]

It has been described as the ‘female Indiana Jones’ and stars Lauren Lee Smith (The L Word) as the hero who takes on the cases the cops won’t touch.

Alibi is one of 60 premium channels available on BT TV along with other channels such as E!, Comedy Central, National Geographic and many more.

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Who is Frankie Drake?

The Frankie Drake Mysteries

Frankie Drake is the first female detective in the whole of Toronto. She was a messenger in World War One and then she was recruited to be a spy. And then after a series of unfortunate events, she found herself down and out in Toronto. As a result, she decides to set up the first female detective agency.

Frankie is an independent, forward-thinking woman for the time – a bit of a rebel. It’s those qualities that made me want to jump onboard. I think it’s a wonderful and interesting time for women. It’s about one year after women have been given the vote and the impact of women in the war period had also given them a new-found freedom and respect. Suddenly they could dance, dress and behave in a way that was previously unwelcomed or not okay.

Being a new mum to daughter, I’ve been looking for these female empowering roles and I thought this would be a great show to watch with her when she grows up. I think this show has all those qualities.

She's an all-action character – she does boxing, she rides a motorbike – are you like that?

The Frankie Drake Mysteries

It’s funny because… no. I’m being very honest here. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be an actor. Before I even knew what an actor really was, I just loved the idea of portraying other people and characters. I loved the idea of delving into worlds and things that I wouldn’t normally want to do. That’s still true today. The most appealing aspect of my job is going outside myself and doing things I would never have the balls to do normally.

In Frankie Drake, that would be getting a motorcycle licence and boxing training.  I would never dream of doing those things normally, but I needed to do them to play Frankie and that’s exciting. But no, I’m not a thrill-seeker in real life.

The shows looks fantastic, what was it like to film in these 1920s sets?

The Frankie Drake Mysteries

The crew did an incredible job. We even ended up taking a few extra hiatuses so that the set team could have more time to build the incredible sets. As an actor, it’s great working on a period piece. You get put in these incredible costumes and suddenly you walk differently and can feel a change. And then you walk into these detailed, meticulous sets and there are all these classic cars – you are immediately placed in this world, before you’ve even started acting. They really out-do themselves every week on the show with these sets, we have jazz clubs, speakeasies and big sprawling country mansions.

Was it fun working with a cast, which was largely just women?

I don’t think with Frankie Drake we realised that it was happening until about two or three episodes in. At that point, we all looked around and said, ‘oh wow, isn’t this great’. For once, it was all the men who were the disposable characters. There relevance was on the lower end compared to the female roles and we were all used to that being the other way around. We had six women running the show for the most part and we just had guest male actors come in and leave. There was such a wonderful chemistry with all the women on this show and it was ridiculous amounts of fun when we did scenes with all of us together.

[Read more: Frankie Drake Mysteries - Everything you need to know]

You couldn’t ride a bike before the show started – did you know you would have to learn?

The Frankie Drake Mysteries

I kind of had a suspicion because on the script was a sketching of Frankie on the motorbike. Then in episode one, she is riding the bike, beating the crap out of dudes and jumping on a moving plane. And then one of the pitch words was this idea of Frankie being the female Indiana Jones. So, I knew there would be a lot of physicality and skills that I wasn’t necessarily acquainted with yet.

Are you now a big fan of motorbike?

Let’s wait and see. Ha. Not yet! The cars were the worst. They were my least favourite part of this season. These were like 100-year-old cars so they were very temperamental. They were catching on fire, they never started when you wanted, they would just shoot backwards – they were the bane of my existence. I’m just happy to still be driving a car, so motorbikes… not yet. Maybe I’ll find a new love in season two.

Did you set fire to a car?

The Frankie Drake Mysteries

It was not me – it was the car! It had been temperamental, making funny noises and sparks. Then during one scene, I was driving and everyone started shouting from the sidelines, ‘you’re on fire, you’re on fire’. And I just thought everyone was cheering me on because I was moving and everyone thought my acting was ‘on fire’. But no, the car was literally on fire, and eventually I saw the smoke and we very quickly had to evacuate the set

How did you choose Frankie’s incredible costumes?

It was important for me to work with a costume designer beforehand. We all had this idea of Frankie as a modern forward-thinking woman. There were still these ideals of what a woman should wear and what was acceptable, which was mostly dresses of certain lengths and if you were outside a hat. We played around with that and her rebellious spirit. We put her in lots of trousers and she would show up at all these events throughout the show as the only women in pants and without a hat. I loved it. It was really fun. It’s every girl’s dream to dress up in this incredible 1920s costumes.

What was it like filming the aeroplane stunt in episode one, where you jump on the wing?

The Frankie Drake Mysteries

It was surreal. They had my stunt girl and she is amazing. She is a motorcycle racer, so everything tricky you see on screen with the bike, that was her. I can’t take credit for that. But they tried to get her to film this scene with the moving plane and the angles just couldn’t work. So we had a meeting with the producers and stunt team so that I could do it and somehow, incredibly, we did make it work. You’ll see in this one scene, that I jump on this bike, race on the bike, punch a guy out and then jump on a moving plane and hop in from the wing. We only shot the scene twice, but I can’t deny that my heart was seriously racing. It was incredible and when you watch it back, you can see that it’s me, so I think it was worth it.

The Frankie Drake Mysteries premieres in the UK on Alibi – BT TV channel 312/383 HD – on Tuesday, January 23rd at 9pm.

BT TV customers can watch the first episode now on the BT Player.

Alibi is one of 60 premium channels available on BT TV along with other channels such as E!, Comedy Central, National Geographic and many more.

> BT broadband customer? Get BT TV

> Not yet with BT? Find out the great ways you can get BT TV here

> BT TV customer? Head to channel 312 to watch the first episode on the BT Player

BT TV customers - Watch now on the BT Player

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