Soon after The Wire finished its remarkable five-series delve into life and death in Baltimore, Clarke Peters, who played the dignified detective Lester Freamon, was in Scotland. A taxi veered towards him. “Two huge men got out,” he recalls. “I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to get it now … ’ But they were so enthusiastic.” At this point, Peters, born in New York City, puts on an eccentric Scottish accent. ” ‘I can’t believe it! It’s facking Freamon!’ And what they were blown away by was that Baltimore was just like Glasgow. They got it. The city was the star, and people in Europe worked that out before America did. America’s so racially minded, they thought that it was a Black show, but it was always about society.”
Twelve years after The Wire ended, Peters is sitting at home on a Zoom call to discuss the role that changed his life. “Having done The Wire, I didn’t want to do a lot of stupid shit,” he says. “It exercised a part of your brain numbed by watching other crap.” He is fantastic company. Asking how my day is, I say we found rats in our garden. “Well, we’re in a great place to be talking about Baltimore then!” At one point, he phones Dominic West, who played Freamon’s fellow, less calm detective, Jimmy McNulty. The two actors used to go camping together and would sometimes ride horses too. The call goes to voicemail, but a lot of the cast stayed in touch.