Lennie James: I was “utterly gutted” not to come back to Line of Duty

The Walking Dead actor admits he was jealous of his old colleagues during the second series of Jed Murcurio's BBC2 drama

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The second series of writer Jed Mercurio’s cop thriller Line of Duty held the nation transfixed – and it looks like a former cast member felt a little left out of the action. 

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Lennie James, who played corrupt DCI Tony Gates in Line of Duty’s first series until the character’s death, was speaking from the set of new Sky1 medical drama Critical (also created by Mercurio) when the subject of the police thriller came up.

When asked if he’d watched the second series, James said: “I did, it was fantastic. There were a couple of points where I was utterly gutted, though. I’m not gonna lie to you.

“It was because everybody else got to come back!” the actor explained. “Craig [Parkinson] came back, and Neil [Morrissey] came back, and [Adrian] Dunbar was there, and I know the time they were having without me!”

Still, he acknowledged that he’d made his bed when he took on the role. “I mean, I knew going into the first one that I wasn’t coming back for any more. It wasn’t like a surprise.

“Although quite early on Critical, I said to Jed ‘Don’t kill me!’ I’m not crossing any roads any time soon.”

Since leaving Line of Duty James’ work has included American zombie drama The Walking Dead, with a surprise appearance from his fan-favourite character Morgan Jones earlier this week in the series five premiere.

And he has no hard feelings towards his Line of Duty replacement Keeley Hawes, whose performance James described as “utterly fantastic”.

“It’s the cleverness of Jed, in the sense that, there wasn’t any sense of the second series being just like the first one,” James went on. “He kind of changed it around and turned it into a whodunit, whereas the first one wasn’t really.”

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Critical will air on Sky1 early next year