BBC America’s Ripper Street – a period series about a cop, tasked with solving crimes in 19th century London, post Jack the Ripper – premiered last night on BBC America.

Marking the occasion, Ripper Street star Matthew MacFadyen discussed the experience of working on the show and getting under the skin of his character and choosing to do a long-term project like the series. For New York Daily News Macfadyen explained that as an actor, he often feels the stress of not being offered work, and then at some point the scripts simply start to pour: “[W]hen the phone doesn’t ring for three weeks, you start thinking, ‘My God, I’ll never work again.’” For him, a long-term contract for a series offered some security in a profession, where stability is inherently lacking.

In the same interview, Macfayden explained that it was a pleasure to have the time to get under his character’s skin, but that, at the same time, the actor explained that it isn’t a problem for him, when he can’t completely understand a character’s motivation. “Some of the best writing now is being done for television,” he says. “Because TV has the luxury of giving you the time to get to know the characters.” Ripper Street airs at 9PM EST Saturdays on BBC America.