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“Audiences love to root for the underdog” — Jingan Young Talks ITV’s Red Eye

3 min read
A still from ITV's Red Eye

London police officer DC Hana Li is escorting Dr Matthew Nolan back to Beijing where he has been accused of a crime. However, on board flight 357, she finds herself embroiled in an escalating conspiracy and a growing number of murders. This is ITV’s new series Red Eye.

Writer Dr Jingan Young talks to FILMHOUNDS about her journey as a writer, what it was like working with Bad Wolf, and how she felt working with the genius that is Peter Dowling.

How did you get involved with the project?

Through chance, Dan McCulloch from Bad Wolf had read an article I wrote for the Guardian about China and film, I had done a writers room in the past with them and went for a catch-up meeting and subsequently, I was invited for an informal chat with Pete, they then offered me the role of writing an episode and contributing in some way to the story and cultural aspects to the series.

You are also credited as a culture consultant for the series, what exactly does that entail and how involved were Bad Wolf in the creative decisions?

Bad Wolf were very conscious that East Asians are often represented poorly in British television and were very open and enthusiastic about giving respectful portrayals of our lead characters’ lives. Other members of the cast and I, along with the script team would provide notes on each episode of where things could be added or removed regarding cultural elements specifically Hana’s family life.

What was it like working with Peter Dowling and how was it writing with him?

Pete had such a clear vision for the series and was always adapting to the — expected challenges of writing a six parter, budget and various production issues always crop up so a flexible lead writer would be key. He also is a kind human. I enjoyed working with him very much.

Red Eye is a huge character driven drama, especially with Richard Armitage and Jing Lusi’s characters, how do you think the audience will react and connect to Matthew and Li?

Audiences love to root for the underdog, and I think Nolan epitomises the Hitchcockian man on the run, and whether he’s innocent is left ambiguous throughout the show. Jing plays Hana’s role with such empathy and humour that it’s impossible not to fall in love with her!

This is your first time writing for a drama, how was that and how was it writing an episode splat bang in the middle of the season?

My other TV credit thus far is an episode for CBBC Biff and Chip where I had to pitch an idea for an existing series with certain parameters and beats to hit when it comes to development of characters. In that regard I felt I had the toolkit to come in and hopefully contribute an episode which tonally fit in with the series as a whole. Of course, things shift as you receive notes so it was similarly also being able to adapt to storylines moving around or being cut. It was a fantastic experience and I’m very humbled by it.

One of the interesting things about Red Eye is that the casting of Jing Lusi as the main character.  She’s the first British Southeast Asian actress to lead a British show since the BBC’s ‘The Chinese Detective’ in 1982, why do you think it’s taken so long?

It’s difficult to know why but speaking from a writer’s perspective I do often think it’s because there has been a lack of opportunities for female East Asian writers. Casting of BESEA has improved dramatically since Crazy Rich Asians but there is still a dearth of stories which humanise and provide nuance to our cultural background and community. It’s expansive and diverse in its own right and I hope this means the start of more to come.

Will there be a Red Eye Season 2?

I’m currently working on a BESEA romcom with Deafilms, but that’s all I can say at the moment.  I think there could definitely be a second season, and I would love to be involved.


Red Eye airs Sundays on ITV, with all episodes available to watch now on ITVX.