The Diplomat brings a fresh twist to the crime drama genre, taking us inside the busy British Consulate in Barcelona.

Sophie Rundle (Peaky Blinders) and Serena Manteghi (Mrs Wilson) star as Laura Simmons and Alba Ortiz, colleagues at the Barcelona Consulate who look after the cases of distressed British nationals.

Part-lawyers, part-counsellors and part-cops, the duo’s diplomatic skills are pushed to the limit in a dark and complex case that goes way beyond their usual work of helping to find lost passports and getting drunken Brits out of scrapes.

We caught up with Serena Manteghi to find out more about the series and behind-the-scenes filming secrets…

1. Can you explain who Alba is and how she fits into the show?

Serena Manteghi in The Diplomat as Alba UKTV

Alba is a local appointment. She’s not part of the civil service and hasn’t come through the usual diplomatic pathways and isn’t a consulate general or anything like that. But she knows everything about the city, and speaks fluent Catalan and Spanish, despite the fact she grew up in London.

She bridges the divide between the British staff in the British consulate in Barcelona and the local culture and community.

2. Is it fair to say her relationship with Laura is more like friends than colleagues?

I think that is how Alba would see it. Alba crosses the boss/employee line a few too many times. But there is a really strong foundation to their friendship at the heart of it, which is one of the most appealing parts of the show.

These two women work alongside each other, but there is no betrayal or competition. They just really get along, admire each other and work well together. I think Alba really looks up to Laura. Just I like do with Sophie [Rundle].

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3. Alba is pretty open about her love life. Will there be any romance?

Oh bless you, romance is a very generous way to put it. It’s a very kind way of putting Alba’s night-time exploits. I don’t know if Alba is looking for romance at all.

I don’t think Alba would even exclude herself to just men. She just wants free fun and mutual joy with no strings attached. That’s probably how she thinks of it.

4. How did you build your chemistry with Sophie Rundle?

Sophie Rundle in The Diplomat UKTV

We see so often actors saying how much they love each other, and most of the time they do. We usually do get along. But in this series, hats off to Orla who did the casting because we truly found that dynamic very quickly.

I really do admire Sophie, look up to her and especially her work. But alongside that we have a real genuine friendship and fondness.

I love her to bits. She’s an absolute delight. The nicest woman in showbiz. You asked what work we put into it, but when we first met, we very quickly realised that there was no work to be done.

5. Was it terrible having to film in the beautiful and sunny Barcelona?

The cast of The Diplomat UKTV

You have no idea, my goodness. Ha, ha. It was an absolute pleasure and honour to live in Barcelona for four months. Work doesn’t get much better than working in the glorious Spanish sunshine. You can see why people get into work as diplomats when you get to live in a place like that. Wow.

Despite all the craziness of being an actor and how insecure it can be, one of the best parts of it is that you get opportunities like this. It was just an absolute dream.

They chose incredible places to shoot. We were strolling down beautiful historical streets in El Born or working on these glamourous rooftops or around these really cool suburban gritty areas in North Gracia, we saw such beautiful things and such cool parts of Barcelona.

6. How did you find the heat?

I was warned by the local Spanish crew, you won’t be enjoying it in July, it’s only April now, just you wait. And true to their word, by July, all of us were absolutely melting. Sophie and I existed entirely on gelato. Anything to cool ourselves down, which was mainly ice cream.

Also, because it’s not filmed in sequence, we were putting on outfits in April, which felt fine, but come July, you thought, "Why! Why! Why did I choose to wear a jumper in this scene!" We’ll all suddenly be pinker and sweatier in later scenes.

Sophie Rundle and Serena Manteghi in The Diplomat UKTV

Outside the building where we filmed the consulate scenes was a local stand that sold these cookies and iced coffees that Sophia and I got obsessed with. And there was this one gelato place, which I became obsessed with. I’m pretty sure I had one every single day. It was incredible. They did mad flavours like rosemary and honey ice cream.

It was honestly the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life. And I’m a lifelong ice cream devotee. I’m half-Iranian and ice cream is a big part of our culture. But truly, that place is amazing. If you’re in Barcelona, check out Parallelo.

7. Do you think The Diplomat will return for series 2? Either in Barcelona or another country?

It’s a clever format for a show really because you have the huge over-arching narrative. There is this international crime element with secret trading and gangsters, which goes throughout the series. And then because of the nature of a consulate, there are also lots of smaller, human drama storylines,  in the story of the week format.

By the end of the first series, there is a satisfying end, but my God, I feel like there is scope for it to go on for many more. I would go back to Barcelona in a heartbeat. Or as you say, any other European city. Consuls get moved all around the world.

Watch The Diplomat from 9pm on 28 February on Alibi with NOW.

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Catch your favourite shows and all the best sport with our flexible TV packages.  Entertainment packs include Netflix and Sky channels from NOW.