Award-winning actor Alan Howard relished playing a barrister with a complicated past in Foyle's War.

"I enjoyed playing Stephen Beck very much and I hope what I think about him is conveyed in the performance. Beck is a highly intelligent man, he's thoughtful and clever but wears it very lightly."

Beck is a brilliant barrister who moved to England from Germany. Now naturalised, he shows little trace of his origins. But beneath the surface it is a different story.

"He's been badly damaged and that encourages a kind of steel as a protection. He is still very idealistic. He is hugely courageous and is so self-effacing. He understands that to be of any use under the current circumstances he needs to make a personal sacrifice."

Foyle (Michael Kitchen) and Beck are old friends.

"They are peas in a pod and share similar sensibilities. They are also both widowers," says Alan. "I hadn't worked with Michael before but it was a good experience.

"I also liked Beck's relationship with Hilda Pierce, played by Ellie Haddington. There's something between them in the past, but their relationship now is strange and slightly dangerous. They hugely respect each other, but Hilda is also aware that if Beck doesn't want to do something, he won't."

Alan has enjoyed a hugely successful career. Acclaimed for both his theatrical and screen roles, especially as a leading Shakespearean actor, he has awards stretching back to the 1960s. His many TV credits include A Perfect Spy, No Bananas, Anna Lee, David Copperfield, Death In Holy Orders, NCS: Manhunt and Midsomer Murders, and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, Oxford Blues and Dakota Road are among his feature film appearances. When Foyle's War is screened, Alan will be appearing at the Live Theatre in Newcastle in Keepers of the Flame.

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