Hold on to your seats folks… nail-biting cop thriller Line of Duty returns to BBC2 on Thursday (March 24), as anti-corruption unit AC-12 investigates another dodgy officer operating outside the law.
Vicky McClure, who reprises her role as the show's DC Kate Fleming, talks about playing an all-action heroine this time round…
As the new series of Line of Duty begins, anti-corruption squad AC-12 are called to investigate the conduct of Sgt Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays), the leader of an Armed Response Unit, after a suspect is shot dead in suspicious circumstances. To get inside information, DC Kate Fleming goes undercover…
“She does. Kate gets closer to Danny and his team, but she doesn’t know these people and feels she can't trust them. She's accepted but maybe not quite liked straight away. Kate's really uncomfortable being undercover surrounded by guns – she knows it's dangerous and that anything could go wrong."
If Kate's undercover with a firearms' squad, does that mean you get to use a gun this series?
"Yes! I told the show's creator Jed (Mercurio) that I wanted a gun this series, so he made it happen. As Kate, I'm usually sat behind a desk typing but, this time, I'm wearing full body armour and running around with an assault rifle. Although I said I wanted a gun, when they gave it to me, I realised how heavy all the kit was! So filming has been exhausting, but very exciting."
Has that been something new for you?
“Yeah, I don’t have much dialogue at the beginning. I'm mostly running round with a gun and banging doors down, so it's been more action-packed, which I haven’t really done a lot of at all in my career. So it's been a bit of an experience for me."
So, do we see a different Kate to the one we’ve seen in previous series?
"Yeah, it's totally different. And it's been weird because Kate doesn't have much to do with AC-12 at first, so for two weeks I was mostly filming with the new gang: Danny Mays, Will Mellor, Arsher Ali and Leanne Best. So it's been very strange, but they've been brilliant and it felt right because it felt very 'undercover'."
L-R: PC Rod Kennedy (Will Mellor), Sgt Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays), PC Hari Bains (Arsher Ali), WPC Jackie Brickford (Leanne Best) as armed response unit
Did you almost feel like the new girl?
"Yes! The other guys had been filming for about a week, so they were all prepared and ready. And then I came on. So it was like coming onto the same job that I'd been on for this long to a load of people I don’t know and they were showing me the ropes!"
Is it almost like playing two parts when Kate’s undercover?
"Yeah. There’s part of me trying to seem really natural, making sure it looks like she should be there for their benefit, but then there's having to play this vulnerable side of being in a potential dangerous situation. So it is almost like trying to play two different characters, which I love because it makes it interesting. But it can be tricky."
How has Daniel Mays fitted in as AC-12's latest 'mark', Sgt Danny Waldron?
“I'd met Danny actually, last year at an event. I took my dad with me and he was dead nice. It’s always nice when they make an effort. Craig (Parkinson, who plays DS Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan) and Danny were once flatmates, so he obviously knew him, and Martin (Compston, who plays DS Steve Arnott) knew him, so he just slotted straight in."
L-R: Supt Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) as AC-12
Line of Duty is known for its tough interrogation scenes. What are they like to film?
“It was pretty hardcore last year. Me and Martin had a big scene that was like theatre but for film, it was 20-odd pages or something. But there's a real pleasure that you get out of it when you’ve nailed it – we were really chuffed with it."
Plot details of Line of Duty always remain a closely guarded secret. How do you deal with family members wanting to know what happens before a series has gone out?
“I think it’s one of those shows where you can’t make a cuppa while it’s on. You’ve got to pay attention at all times because the detail, it’s all in there. But it’s actually the one show where all my lot go: 'I DON'T want to know'. And I’ll say: ‘Oh, go on let me tell you…"
What do you think it is that people like about Line of Duty?
“Everything these days is pretty much a cop drama, but I think the thing that attracts me to Line of Duty, obviously is the script, but also the fact that it's about corrupt coppers. It's not about the crime so much, it's more about the police officers that are involved in it and I think that sets it apart from other cop shows. It always feels weird to me that I’ve been given such an important, complicated and intelligent role."
What do people recognise you more for, This is England or Line of Duty?
“If I’ve got dark hair people will say Line of Duty and if I’m blonde people call me Lol from This is England. I suppose I do get recognised more for Line of Duty now the show's getting bigger. Before, people would do that annoying thing where the conversation would go: ‘Where do I know you from?’... ‘I work on TV’... ‘Oh, in what?’... ‘Line of Duty’... ‘No, not heard of it’... ‘This is England’... ‘No, not heard of that either’... ‘Well, then, I dunno!’”
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With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for WhatToWatch.com, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!