Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar and Martin Compston return for the sixth instalment of Line of Duty with Shalom Brune-Franklin, a new addition to the AC-12 team. Kelly Macdonald makes her debut as guest lead Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson, the senior investigating officer on an unsolved murder case whose suspicious conduct attracts the attention of Anti-Corruption.
Written and created by Jed Mercurio and made by World Productions for BBC One and BBC iPlayer, Line of Duty returns at 9pm on Sunday 21 March.
Below is an interview with Martin Compston (DS Steve Arnott)...
Where do we find DS Steve Arnott at the beginning of the series?
At the beginning of the series, Steve is still a DS. So, still no promotion but he is chasing! He has got bored as AC-12 is now tainted and the investigations have been severely curtailed. At the start, he is chasing up mundane cases; similar to chasing Lennie James over the expense of a bacon roll in the first series! Steve thrives on the thrill of the chase and the adventure of it so he’s a bit lost and having issues both physically and mentally. He definitely sees himself as a bit of a Sherlock Holmes with a waistcoat. Every year with Line of Duty, these scripts are a gift and we get more into the back stories of each character through Jed’s writing. If we deliver what’s on the page we are onto a winner.
Have there been any memorable moments during filming of this series?
This series has been a shoot like no other. We shot in the middle of a pandemic and it was interesting when we stopped for the first lockdown. Nobody had any idea what was going on and it was such a surreal feeling. Before we stopped, there was the looming threat of being shut down hanging over us. It’s quite hard to get into work in the morning and get yourself motivated when everyone is worried about getting home.
The biggest thing for me was when we started this year, I had just come off the job called The Nest and I had a few topless scenes in the show. I was probably in the best shape of my life. So, when we started the job at the beginning of this year, I was in pretty good nick! Then lockdown happened - we all ate too much, drank too much.
When I came back to the UK and had to quarantine, I asked our lovely costume designer to leave Steve’s suits in my room so I could try them on as they were all tailored. That was a really tough day - I was bursting out of everything! I didn’t realise how the suits were quite so tailored to my original shape! I thought quarantine was going to be wine and pizza, but it was water, soup and an exercise bike for two weeks! I was chuffed to get out of it.
How do you think Steve would fare during lockdown?
Not well. He would have probably been looking for someone to arrest. He thrives being out and about. The job is really all he has. Steve is a joy to play but he has no one.
What was it like working with Kelly Macdonald?
A huge part of this show and its success is down to its incredible guest stars. Kicking off with Lennie James, then Keeley Hawes, Danny Mays popping in, Thandie Newton and Stephen Graham, all these legends! As a fellow Scot, Kelly Macdonald was one of the ones I was most excited about. She’s had the perfect career. She was in Trainspotting, Boardwalk Empire and she’s got her own Scottish Pixar film, Brave. She’s got it all! She’s a wonderfully talented actor and is such a joy.
Some of the interview scenes have been mammoth and it’s the luck of the draw but Adrian and I definitely got the short straw this year and are in every single one. Kelly has a couple of tasty ones. When I met her at the Scottish Baftas, I knew they were in discussions about the role, so I asked her if there was anything I could do to help as I was so excited to have her on the show. She said how terrified she was of the interview scenes! It’s a common theme of anyone coming onto the show but we are all terrified too! It’s a hard day’s graft and I think some of the scenes this year were 36 minute takes, which is full on. But she’s a trooper, she got through it and hopefully we’ve got another good one in the bag!