A SELECTION of first-look images from the second series of a hit TV show written by a former St Helens police officer have been released.

The follow up to Tony Schumacher’s The Responder will launch on BBC One and BBC iPlayer later this year.

The critically acclaimed and six-time BAFTA-nominated, International Emmy winning BBC drama was penned by Schumacher, who spent time working on patrol in St Helens during his career with Merseyside Police.

Filming for the first series saw numerous scenes shot in St Helens, with Taylor Park and Eccleston Park among the locations.

Star readers snapped pictures of the show's lead, Hollywood actor Martin Freeman, filming in the park and on street locations.

Tony began his career as a first responder in St Helens back in 1996 and patrolled areas such as Thatto Heath, Dentons Green and around the town centre while on the beat.

The second series will see actors Martin Freeman, Adelayo Adedayo (Unsaid Stories; Timewasters), MyAnna Buring (The Salisbury Poisonings; The Witcher), Warren Brown (Ten Pound Poms; Luther), Josh Finan (Baby Reindeer; The Gentlemen), Emily Fairn (Mary & George; Black Mirror), Philip S McGuinness (The Batman; The Alienist) and Faye McKeever (Little Boy Blue; The Moorside), Mark Womack (The Vanishing Man; Playing the Field) and Amaka Okafor (Bodies; Greatest Days) reprise their roles.

Joining the cast for series two of The Responder will be Adam Nagaitis (The Terror; Chernobyl), Bernard Hill (Wolf Hall; Lord of the Rings, Titanic) and Ian Puleston-Davies (Tin Star; Pennyworth).

St Helens Star: Adelayo Adedayo as RachelAdelayo Adedayo as Rachel (Image: Dancing Ledge/Rekha Garton)

The new pictures give fans their first glimpse of Chris (Martin Freeman), Rachel, (Adelayo Adedayo), Marco (Josh Finan) and Casey (Emily Fairn) in series two.

According to the BBC, the first series of The Responder "held a mirror up to the emotional extremes of life on the front line of British policing – sometimes darkly funny, sometimes painfully tragic, always challenging".

Released on the BBC in January 2022 it attracted 9.6m viewers (episode one 28-day figure), making it one of the year’s biggest new dramas.

St Helens Star: Josh Finan as MarcoJosh Finan as Marco (Image: Dancing Ledge/Rekha Garton)

Sold in more than 195 territories, with Fremantle handling global distribution, it fast became one of the biggest dramas of 2022.

In a statement the BBC said: "The Responder (5x60’) is written by Tony Schumacher and produced by Fremantle’s Dancing Ledge Productions, who were recently named Production Company of the Year at the Edinburgh Television Awards 2023, for BBC One and iPlayer.

"It is directed by Jeanette Nordahl, Mounia Akl, and Charlotte Regan. It is produced by Barrington Robinson with Laurence Bowen, Chris Carey and Toby Bruce serving as executive producers for Dancing Ledge Productions.

St Helens Star: Emily Fairn as CaseyEmily Fairn as Casey (Image: Dancing Ledge/Rekha Garton)

"Rebecca Ferguson is the executive producer for the BBC. Filming took place in 2023 in and around Liverpool with support from the Liverpool Film Office.

"Fremantle is handling global distribution for the series."

Speaking to the Star in 2022, Tony said that initially, he said he loved the "exciting" and unpredictable nature of his policing job, and felt like he was making a difference in the communities on his patch.

However, the "misery and desperation" of certain situations slowly began to wear him down, and not knowing what was on the end of a 999 call became increasingly anxiety-inducing.

Tony, from Huyton, said: "Ten years of working as a first responder completely burned me out - the sheer misery of the desperate situations you find yourself in really does wear you down.

"In the end I couldn't cope. I would very often finish work and cry in my car, but I would never tell anybody I was struggling - which is that thing with men and not saying anything.

"The stress it has having on me, my family and my relationships was too much, so I quit the force with no plan in place.

"I very quickly ran out of money and ended up sleeping in my car. I was really worried that once my MOT ran out, I would be on the streets."

St Helens Star: Tony SchumacherTony Schumacher

After a friend got him back on his feet, Tony was able to "completely start again" and fulfil his creative ambitions, starting to write alongside his full-time jobs such as a taxi driver and a council tip worker.

His way with words was quickly recognised by fellow Scouser and screenwriter Jimmy McGovern, who mentored the former policeman through a TV writers’ bursary scheme - and Tony has since gone on to write three war-time novels.

Tony's talent also impressed The Responder's leading man, Martin Freeman, who said that his debut script "resonated with me immediately [and] felt like nothing that I’d read or seen".

After the rollercoaster of a journey he has been on, Tony said that working alongside Freeman and writing a prime time BBC drama has been a "surreal" experience - and the feedback he had was "overwhelming".