Sheffield film actor Tony part of a pack of Hyenas

Sheffield-born actor Tony Pitts in Hyena
Sheffield-born actor Tony Pitts in Hyena
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Sheffield-born actor and writer Tony Pitts plays a brutal policeman in the new film Hyena, a type of role he has played before.

He said of the film: “It’s a story about power and corruption and police. Corrupt police and powerful police and powerfully corrupt police and all variants on that theme.

“The director gave us a lot of research and I don’t think of myself as naive but it was a bit of an eye-opener!

“Every 10 years, something about police corruption will emerge. You think naively that it’s been stamped out but some of the source materials they gave me that I can’t go into were quite an eye-opener.

“There are blurred lines and some not so blurred.”

Tony described his character: “He’s the epitome of dodginess, the standard bearer of dodginess, part of a small pack of corrupt police. Four of us have been working together for 10 years, creaming off drug money. They’ve started to feel they’re untouchable.

“That leads them to be more and more reckless after 20 years of high drug use and unquestioned power. We find them just before the inevitable fall.”

Tony is starring alongside Stephen Graham, Peter Fernando and Neil Maskell. He said: “They’re a good friends of mine. It felt like we were a tribe anyway.

“We had that bond between us before we started and the director Gerard Johnson is a friend and very collaboratory. It’s a good thing.”

“I do quite a good line in grisly northern coppers,” said Tony, who has appeared in BBC Two series Line of Duty and played Sergeant Moss in period crime drama Peaky Blinders.

He said: “It’s much more fun being a baddie. It’s a cliche but cliches come for a reason. I think it’s much more fun to let that side out.

“The only time it wasn’t the case was in Red Riding. That was a dark time for all of us. It took me a while to come round out of that one.”

Tony also recently appeared as a policeman in the three-part supernatural BBC drama series Remember Me, starring fellow Sheffielder Michael Palin as an elderly man fleeing a ghost from his past.

What was the Monty Python star like to work with? “Part of me wants to say what a terrible pig of a man but unfortunately he’s full Michael Palin! There was no time I was around him that I wasn’t aware he was Michael Palin.

“You’re aware when it’s an affectation. He’s just nice, clever and fun and all that stuff that just makes me feel so guilty for being the opposite of all those things. I’m not like him.”

He refused to be drawn on what it was like to work on Red Riding with Sean Bean, though, so make of that what you will.

He said he does still get recognised occasionally for his role as teenage tearaway Archie on Emmerdale. He had a fling with vet Zoe Tate, who eventually came out as gay. Tony said: “It would be maybe five or six months ago since someone said it.

“I’ve put on four stone and I’m physically nothing like that now. People remember you from the thing they saw you on.

“I get enough recognition not to feel desperate and enough that I don’t want to walk round with a hat on like I did when I was on a soap.”

Tony says that he couldn’t live any further from Sheffield these days as his home for the past three or four years has been a coastguard’s cottage in Brighton.

He was born in Rivelin, then the family moved to Crookes until he was 10, when they moved back to Rivelin.

He went to Myers Grove School and said: “I went back there a couple of years ago. That was extraordinary, like time travel. I was seeing 50-year-olds that in my mind were still 13-year-olds.”

Tony said that he still gets up to Sheffield quite often to visit his brothers Mark and Lee and is good friends with the singer Richard Hawley.

Richard is writing the score to a film that Tony has written, called Funny Cow. Starring Maxine Peake and Martin Freeman, it looks at the life of a woman comedian in the often brutal world of the northern clubs.

The film is being shot in Sheffield this autumn.

Richard and his son Danny are making their acting debut in Monster, a radio play written by Tony. He said: “It is about male violence, a subject that we are very familiar with.”

The play is due to be broadcast by the BBC on March 26.

Hyena is released in cinemas tomorrow, Friday.