Martin Compston — things you didn't know about the Vigil and Line of Duty star

Line of Duty star Martin Compston.
Line of Duty star Martin Compston. (Image credit: Getty)

Martin Compston has become a household name thanks to his role as Steve Arnott in BBC Crime drama Line of Duty. But while we know and love him for playing a corruption-fighting Detective Sergeant for AC-12, Martin has also starred in many other huge TV dramas like Monarch of the Glen, Victoria, The Aftermath, Traces, and The Nest to name but a few.

And he's now starring in BBC1's big new thriller, Vigil.

But what else is there to learn about the actor? Here are a few things you might not know...

1. He used to be a professional footballer

As well as being a huge Celtic FC fan, Martin also used to play professional football as a teenager and was captain for Aberdeen's youth side. He was then offered a contract with his local football team, Greenock Morton. He told Fabric Magazine: "I loved the time I spent playing, but it was Scottish First Division and that was the highest I was probably going to get. I am still a relatively young actor, but I would be coming to the end of my career as a footballer. I was never going to get to play for Celtic - if I could've done that, then maybe it would've been different."

2. He perfected his London accent while walking the dog

It might come as a surprise to some Line of Duty fans that Martin was born and bread in Greenock, Scotland - meaning Martin has had to spend hours perfecting Steve Arnott's London accent. According to Fabric Magazine he honed Steve's accent through listening to podcasts while walking the dog. Martin told the magazine that it can be hard to keep it up: "It can be tough, there is so much jargon and you really have to be on top of dialogue because Jed [Mercurio, who writes the show] can change lines suddenly. But an accent can be like a good costume. As soon as I do that voice, I hear Steve."

3. He lives in Las Vegas

While he might be Scottish through and through, Martin now lives in Las Vegas, the hometown of his wife, American actress Tianna Chanel Flynn. But if course, this means he spends months at a time away from home while filming in the UK... however there is a silver lining, because filming in the UK allows him to spend time with family and friends back in Scotland.

4. He went for his first audition without having acted before

Following his career in football, Martin decided to try something completely different. He went for his first audition having never acted before, but still managed to land the role in Ken Loach's 2002 film Sweet Sixteen. He was such a huge hit in the role that he won a British Independent Film award for the Most Promising Newcomer. Speaking of that time, Martin told The National: "Looking back, the amount of trust Ken Loach put in me was unbelievable. There is no doubt that the man changed my life and I'll be forever grateful to him."

5. One of his favourite pastimes is people watching

Martin moved to London when he was 25 and shared a flat with Kyle Falconer from Scottish indie rock band The View. He has revealed that living in London then was one of the best times in his life, and his favourite thing to do in the summer was people watch in Soho.

6. He wooed his wife by singing Irish songs to her 

Martin met his wife Tianna in a bar she was working at in LA, but it wasn't just her stunning looks that caught his attention. She was also wearing a claddagh ring... "Well, have you seen Tianna?" Martin joked during an interview with The Scotsman. "She's mixed race with huge hair and I said 'what are you doing with that?' It turned out her dad is Irish, so from that I started singing her a couple of songs from the old country and and was hooked!" 

7. He lives next door to his 'Line of Duty' co-stars while filming 

Martin, along with his co-stars Adrian Dunbar and Vicky McClure, spends a lot of time away from home while filming Line of Duty in Belfast. But fear not, because they all live like one big happy family next-door to one another. Martin told The Scotsman: "We all head between each other's flats at night to eat, we have a blast. Adrian cooks a lot of Irish stuff and Vicky's very good at Sunday roasts. I cooked once this year because Tianna has been teaching me, so it's not all eating out and Doritos every night!"

Martin Compston's fact file

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about the actor....

How old is he?

Martin Compston is 37 years old. He was born on 8 May 1984. 

Is he married? 

Martin Compston married his wife, Tianna Chanel Flynn in 2016. 

Does he have children?

Martin Compston and his wife Tianna have one child together. 

Where was he born?

Martin Compston was born in Greenock, Scotland. 

How tall is he?

Martin Compston is 1.73 metres tall.

Instagram: @mrmartincompston

Twitter: @martin_compston

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.