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'Aw shucks, it's great to be back home' Damian Lewis tells Kate Whiting why he's come back to Britain from LA for child-trafficking BBC drama Stolen.

Byline: Kate Whiting

OLD Etonian Damian Lewis has spent so long playing Americans that he finds himself blending in effortlessly on the other side of the pond.

The flame-haired actor, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks' Band Of Brothers in 2001, has even developed an "American persona", which he'll stay in all day on set.

"It's got to a point where I go shopping at the weekends and stay as an American, and then I find myself talking to an English person and that's when I feel ridiculous," he says, with a cheeky grin. "But in America more often than not I naturally wake up in an American accent."

Now living in Britain again after a stint in Los Angeles - "It was fun, but London remains one of the great cities in the world... and LA is not!" - Lewis is firmly back in spoken English mode for his latest role, as DI Anthony Carter in UK-set human trafficking thriller Stolen.

The one-off BBC featurelength drama follows three different children - an African girl, a Vietnamese boy and a Russian boy - who have been brought to the UK as domestic servants and manual labourers. Carter's relocated with his wife and daughter to work on the cases.

"It's really a story about displacement and the overwhelming scale of the problem," says Damian.

Our modern-day slave trade is hard to ignore. In 2007, an estimated 2.5 million people were in forced labour globally as a result of trafficking, with 10% of those in industrialised nations.

"I wasn't aware of the extent of the problem, so I was attracted to it because I thought I had something interesting to say," says Damian, who turned 40 in February.

"There was a particularly arresting image at the end of the script where a little girl and her father are playing that game of looking at aeroplanes in the sky and guessing where they're going.

"That image is really turned on its head when you start to examine just quite how many trafficked people there are coming out of the United Kingdom and other Western countries by aeroplane.

"It stopped me in my tracks and, for a few days after that, every time I saw an aeroplane in the sky, I thought about who was being trafficked rather than which island they were going to."

The African girl in the drama becomes a domestic slave, while the Russian boy works for a pittance in a sandwich factory and the Vietnamese boy is enslaved in a marijuana factory.

"He never sees daylight. He's locked up and held captive while he manages this marijuana crop in this very innocuous, peaceful-looking suburban street.

"That's the most striking thing about trafficking, it goes on under our noses and it might be going on in the house next door."? Stolen, BBC One, tomorrow, 9pm

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IN DEMAND: Damian Lewis as DI Anthony Carter in Stolen and, inset, with Wunmi Mosaku as Sonia Carey
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 2, 2011
Words:502
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