HOLBY City legend Hugh Quarshie has slammed his days as a soap star saying his old salary just “paid the rent”.
Hugh, 66, played Ric Griffin on the hospital soap for 19 years but left last year to pursue “important” work.
Fans will next see him front the ITV drama Stephen, alongside Steve Coogan and Sharlene Whyte.
The three-part drama will explore the murder of Stephen Lawrence and follows on from the ground-breaking single drama, The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, which was released in 1999.
Hugh will reprise his performance of Stephen’s dad Neville from the original award-winning drama.
Stephen, based on the real-life murder of Stephen Lawrence – will portray events from 2006, 13 years after Stephen’s death in April 1993 in a racially motivated attack while he was waiting for a bus in Eltham.
It will follow his mum Doreen and Neville’s campaign for justice which led to a public inquiry by retired judge Sir William Macpherson, who labelled London’s Metropolitan Police as “institutionally racist”.
Steve Coogan will play DCI Clive Driscoll, who helped secure the conviction of Stephen’s killers.
Hugh said working on the drama was one of his most “important” roles ever.
“I think for me, it reminded me why this job is worth doing,” he told Daily Star Online.
“I’ve come close to giving up at least three times over the course of my career.
“Some of the work I’ve done has paid the bills and the mortgage and so on, but it hasn’t always seemed terribly important or significant. This one mattered, somehow, as did the first one.”
He added: “It felt right to do. It felt important to do. The hope is, that in the multi-channel universe, this will get the audience what it needs and what it deserves.”
Getting the chance to play Neville again was “a reassurance or a vindication of being an actor”.
Behind the scenes, Line of Duty’s writer Jed Mercurio has come together with Flack’s Jimmy Mulville and NCIS director Alrick Riley.
The stars are all working from a script written by Frank and Joe Cottrell Boyce, which portrays the events after Stephen’s tragic death.
Despite the identities of the killers being known, parents Doreen and Neville struggled to see them convicted and get justice for their son.
The couple continued to pursue justice and pushed for a public inquiry that found the Metropolitan Police as institutionally racist.
The investigation brought a change to the law and to police practices that transformed the understanding of racial inequality across the UK.
Despite the success of the inquiry, Stephen Lawrence’s case remained unsolved and Doreen and Neville continued to struggle to achieve justice.
The drama follows DCI Driscoll’s plight to put together an investigation to finally convict the murderers, 18 years after his death.
While there is currently no set release date for the drama, Stephen is expected to air on ITV this autumn.
The show is being made with the help of Stephen’s parents Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Dr Neville Lawrence, who gave their blessing.
Stephen’s murder sparked a public outcry, and his parents were forced to wait for nearly two decades for any sort of justice, until 2012 when Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of murder.
Stephen will air this autumn on ITV.