A murder, a brewing drugs turf war and a pregnant stowaway newly arrived in Aberdeen aboard a Norwegian cargo ship. The hit BBC Scotland crime drama Granite Harbour has returned with a bang.

At the heart of the new three-part series is Scots actor Hannah Donaldson, who reprises her role as DS Lara Bartlett, a streetwise and ambitious police detective with her eyes firmly on the prize: securing a long-awaited promotion.

Starring opposite Donaldson is Jamaican-born Romario Simpson playing DC Davis Lindo, a former sergeant in the Royal Military Police, who aspires to join the ranks of New Scotland Yard, but instead finds himself cutting his teeth as a rookie in the north-east of Scotland.

The chalk-and-cheese duo, dubbed “Bart and Lindo”, have markedly different approaches when it comes to solving the gritty cases that land on their desks. Yet, like all great TV odd-couple pairings - think Mulder and Scully in The X-Files - their polarity is what stokes the magic.

The Herald: Granite HarbourGranite Harbour (Image: free)

Granite Harbour’s debut run in 2022 proved popular among viewers, garnering 7.6 million streams on BBC iPlayer. What can we expect this time around? With dark subject matter and myriad murky goings-on, there is a lot for Bart and Lindo to unpick right off the bat, Donaldson reveals.

It is a weekday morning in early April and Donaldson, 39, is in good form as she chats about the joy of bringing the double act back for a second outing.

“With that comes the conflict between the two of them about what leads to follow,” says Donaldson, whose recent roles include parts in Payback, Irvine Welsh’s Crime and Annika.

“Lindo is very instinctive and perhaps has an unorthodox way of working his way through a case, whereas Bart plays by the rules and, with her drive for promotion, is careful to toe the party line.

“The conflict between the two of them unfolds because Bart is torn. Lindo has great instincts as an officer, but sometimes those instincts get them into trouble. It is a push and pull over whose tactic wins.”

What the characters do have in common, though, is their sartorial polish, both a far cry from the well-trodden trope of a scruffy police detective with a crumpled suit and messy bed hair. “Bart and Lindo look quite stylish together,” says Donaldson.

Just as Sarah Lund in The Killing became famed for her woollen jumpers and Saga Noren in The Bridge had her ubiquitous leather trousers, Bart’s natty collection of neckties have caught the eye of many viewers.

“Everybody asks about the neckties,” laughs Donaldson. “That is all thanks to Carole Millar, who does the costumes on Granite Harbour. She had a very clear idea of how she wanted Bart and Lindo to look.

“The necktie has become a firm favourite. I suppose Lindo’s equivalent is his bright, Jamaican heritage ties and suits with a nod to his upbringing. The neckties aren’t going anywhere. They will definitely be a firm fixture around Bart’s neck.

“They have a life of their own, of course, because they are mostly silk and slide around. You see the knot at one side then, by the end of the scene, it is at the other side. The poor continuity team had their work cut out.”

Donaldson grew up near Dundee, and is delighted to see the north-east of Scotland represented in a major TV show like Granite Harbour.


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“It is important for me, but I think it is important for storytelling in general that we push the boundaries of where the stories take place and who is involved, the characters and the people that we shine a light on,” she asserts.

“We are all very familiar with Glasgow and Edinburgh. They are wonderful cities to shine lights on, but why shouldn’t we see Aberdeen and the north-east in all its glory?

“It is important for people to see the place that they recognise as home told in various forms, whether it is in a play, a book or a TV series, and for people from all walks of life to be represented.”

She grew up in Newport-on-Tay. “I had a lovely childhood there. It was idyllic. It is a beautiful place to grow up. My family are still there.”

The creative gene runs in her blood: her father, now retired, worked for media publisher DC Thomson, where he wrote The Broons and Oor Wullie scripts on and off for years, while her mother was an illustrator who also worked at DC Thomson, then later designed greetings cards.

Donaldson fell in love with acting when she joined a local amateur dramatics club. This led her to Scottish Youth Theatre, followed by a foundation course in acting at Dundee College before honing her craft at the RSAMD, now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in Glasgow.

She has worked solidly on stage and screen for almost 20 years. While the first decade of her career saw her focus mainly on theatre, in more recent times Donaldson has steadily done more TV projects.

“You never stick to one genre,” she says. “My job is ‘play’ and I want to keep shifting and changing and taking all those opportunities. So, whether that’s a play, or a film, or a TV series, or a radio drama, they are all equally as fascinating and rewarding.”

The Herald: Hannah's husband Ryan Fletcher in Black WatchHannah's husband Ryan Fletcher in Black Watch (Image: free)

When we speak, Donaldson has newly returned home from Bali where she was on honeymoon with her husband Ryan Fletcher, a fellow actor known for his roles in Pennyworth, Shetland and the National Theatre for Scotland’s Black Watch.

The Glasgow-based couple, who have been together for almost 14 years, got married at the tail-end of last year. “We were on honeymoon, but we weren’t exactly lovebird honeymooners,” she jokes. “We were running around after our five-year-old son. It was good fun and a celebration of the 14 years past, as well as what is to come.”

Having two actors in a relationship could be a tricky balancing act when dealing with the peaks and troughs that the industry can bring, but Donaldson is sanguine with how she views the reality of her chosen career.

“Everybody’s story is different,” she says. “There have been periods where I haven’t been working, or there have been quiet spells where I wasn’t quite landing the auditions I was up for.

“What has really helped to keep me going and enabled me to keep working as an actor for the best part of 20 years is that I do have other things going on in my life. There are other things that fulfil me creatively and those are really important.

“It is hard nowadays to just be an actor. You do need to expand your skill set, whether you want to write or produce or direct. Find other things that fulfil you, because sometimes the industry doesn’t love you back.”


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In that vein, she and Fletcher have put on a pantomime in his hometown of Blantyre for the past five years. “We started it to flex our producing muscles and thought we could maybe try doing something ourselves,” explains Donaldson.

“It has become a big hit and sold out almost every year. It is great fun; we employ a cast of about five other actors and a production team. We write it, direct it and produce it. Ryan stars in it, while I produce and do all the design elements.”

They have other irons in the fire too. “Ryan also has a Mexican food truck [The Wee Taqueria],” she adds. “It is a converted horsebox that he takes to weddings, festivals and events. He does that with a director friend of his.

“So, there are things like that ticking along in the background that keep our heads focused when we are not acting. It can occasionally be tricky having two actors in the same household, but we manage to negotiate it pretty well.

“When you are both busy that is great, but when you are both quiet, it can be tricky. You have to buoy the other one up, but that is true of any partnership, isn’t it?”

When it comes to hobbies, the couple are, perhaps unsurprisingly, culinary buffs. “We are big lovers of food in our household, so there is always cooking going on,” says Donaldson.

“There is a lot of hosting. The extendable kitchen table is almost always extended. We have a constant conveyor belt of pals and family coming over. Ryan is mostly the chef; I’m more the host and sous chef.”

Do they have a signature dish? “It probably is Mexican food,” she confirms. “Although, we have just come back from Bali and are attempting to make a seafood laksa for the first time today. My pal is coming over and we are going to try to recreate the dish of our holiday.”

Before we wrap our conversation, I ask Donaldson to sum up the latest run of Granite Harbour. “Series two is definitely bigger, bolder and more dramatic,” she says. “It has got a really dynamic Scottish-Scandi cast, which is exciting.”

With a second series now under their belts, is there mileage for a third and beyond? She certainly believes so. “I hope we get a chance to do it again and grow further.”

Granite Harbour returns to BBC Scotland on May 2, at 10pm, and BBC One, May 3, at 9pm. Watch all episodes on BBC iPlayer from May 2