Steve Wilkie photo
Name: Nazneen Contractor & Graham Abbey
Age: 25 & 36 respectively
Every crime series has them: An investigative team that oozes on-screen chemistry. In the case of The Border, two illustrious Stratford theatrical talents tackle two of the lead roles in the pulsating new drama series that makes its debut tonight on the CBC at 9.
Nazneen Contractor, 25, plays Sgt. Layla Hourani, the new kid on the elite Canadian Immigration and Customs Security (ICS) squad with something to prove — a brown woman in a white man’s job; a Muslim agent, who locks up Muslim criminals. Her sidekick is Graham Abbey (a.k.a. ICS Det.-Sgt. Gray Jackson), a rough-and-tumble womanizer, gambler and all-round cowboy with a legendary track record for chasing down criminals along the world’s largest undefended border, the Canada–U.S. 49th parallel.
“The Border truly raises the bar when it comes to (Canadian) programming,” says Contractor, who completed an honours degree from the University of Toronto with a double major in sociology and psychology. A classically trained ballerina, Contractor’s on-screen credits include The Matthew Shepherd Story, Relic Hunter and Street Time.
“I’m proud of (The Border) being a Canadian product that can compete with the best U.S. shows,” adds Abbey, 36. Like his co-star, Abbey is an actor with a distinguished academic acumen. The 2002 Dora Award-winning thespian holds a degree in politics from Queen’s University and acquired a law school scholarship. He even donned a role as a legislative intern at Queen’s Park for a year before embarking on the road less travelled: Acting.
Fair enough. The two are tooting the horn of their own show, but if you’ve seen the commercials or logged onto cbc.ca/theborder, viewers can expect to be wowed. With gripping post-9/11 plot lines ranging from terrorism and illegal immigration to drug smuggling and human organ trafficking, the series is not only topical, but also sheds light on the dark and suggestively shady intelligence turf wars that exist within the upper factions of the Canadian and American governments.
The show also spares no expense in terms of talent with an ensemble cast that includes James McGowan (1-800-Missing, Plague City: SARS In Toronto) and Sofia Milos (CSI: Miami, The Sopranos).
2007 Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Peter Raymont (Shake Hands With The Devil) is also on board as executive producer, while Gemini-winner Brian Dennis is supervising producer.