Jerome and Rebecca
Tom McCabe (Jerome) with RSPB officer Claire Armitage (Rebecca Lacey)

Jerome’s first major solo project was this series for the BBC which ran for two seasons, and was a subject that was obviously close to his heart. “I’ve always felt passionate about animals, so loved the script when it was sent to me,” he said when the series was first aired. “I also have family and friends in Northumberland and have a particular affinity with the North East.

Written by the Ballykissangel creator Kieran Prendiville, animal-loving detective Tom McCabe (Jerome) is one of very few wildlife protection officers assigned to work for the Northumberland City police with his reluctant, sometime partner Jim Cassidy (Adrian Bower). In this mainly rural county Tom and Jim investigate wildlife related crime in close association with RSPB officer Claire Armitage (Rebecca Lacey) much to the chagrin of her husband, Tom’s superior David Armitage (Kevin Doyle) who believes more than a professional relationship exists between them.

Whilst Tom likes Claire he attention is currently focused on veterinary surgeon Steph (Phillippa Wilson), a single-mum who runs the local wildlife sanctuary. However, Tom’s life is about to be radically altered by the arrival of his previously unknown daughter Wilf (Alison Mac).

Jerome and Prendiville based McCabe’s character on real-life Northumbria wildlife officer Paul Henery, who provided information and allowed the actor to trail him on cases.

Paul was a large inspiration because he was the real thing,” Jerome says. “I connected with him right away, understood what’s driving him to do the job. It’s not really police work, it’s a passion with him, trying to keep the animals wild … he’s just passionate about preventing needless suffering”.

Henery was keen to heighten awareness to the rackets going on and Jerome became something of a link between the scriptwriters and the policeman. Not so much, it seems, in the first series of Badger.