But it was Archie’s scene-stealing turn as enigmatic criminal investigator Kalinda Sharma in six seasons of US legal hit The Good Wife that catapulted her to international fame and won Archie an Emmy Award.
Now it means that Archie, at the age of 45, is finally up for well-deserved lead roles rather than supporting parts. She turned down a handful of roles after leaving The Good Wife in 2015, in order to wait for a part that was “a good match”. Next Of Kin, a new ITV thriller, tackling family ties and terrorism, is that.
It sees Archie in her first big lead TV role as Mona Harcourt, a successful London GP whose life is upended by tragedy.
Very much the heart and head of her extended British-Asian family, Mona is also happily married to Guy, a political lobbyist played by Pirates Of The Caribbean’s Jack Davenport, with whom she has a son.
“When I read the first draft for Next Of Kin, my instant reaction was that I was captivated by it, in particular the character of Mona and her journey over six episodes,” says Archie.
“It’s timely and very unique in this day and age, when we’re so bombarded with content, that you see something unique with a strong character at its centre.”
Mona’s idyllic life is shattered when her brother, Kareem (Navin Chowdhry), also a doctor but working at a clinic in Lahore, Pakistan, is abducted and murdered by suspected terrorists.
On the same day he’s killed, there’s a terrorist attack in London. As Mona tries to get to the bottom of Kareem’s murder, the police begin to behave with suspicion towards the family – in particular, towards Kareem’s university-age son, Danish (Viveik Kalra), accusing him of being involved in the London attack and his father’s murder.
“Basically, as the investigation intensifies, Mona desperately tries to fight tooth and nail for her nephew’s innocence,” says Archie. “The police investigate Kareem’s life and Dani’s life and because it becomes fairly public, it does affect every member of the family in a different way.
It affects their son and Mona’s relationship with her husband.”
Jack Davenport, who’s also made a name for himself on US TV, starring in numerous TV series like Smash (2013) and this year’s comedy hit White Famous, returns to his British roots as Guy, a well-spoken lobbyist whose marriage comes under considerable strain in the aftermath of Kareem’s killing.
Being part of a family whose members are suspected of having terrorist sympathies impacts Guy’s career in the corridors of power.
“Anything that involves a family member in situations where the gears of state might start grinding in your direction could be tricky and compromising and dividing,” explains Jack, 44.
Part of what appealed to him about the role is Guy’s unconventional family. It’s not often you see a privately educated Home Counties type marry into an extended, non-nuclear British Asian family, he points out.
“The major reason for doing a role is the material speaks to you,” adds Jack. “I thought from the get-go that Next Of Kin is very smart.”
“It’s been quite nice to be sent scripts that, 10 or 15 years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of,” says Archie.
“I don’t take it for granted – I know it can stop – but it’s a really nice feeling.”
Next of Kin airs on ITV on Monday at 9pm
Published at Sat, 06 Jan 2018 00:01:00 +0000