The stars of Line of Duty have revealed how nerve-wracking it is to receive new scripts from Jed Mercurio – because they never know whether it will be their character’s turn to die.
“The first thing that you do is check that you’re not dead,” Adrian Dunbar told the audience during a screening of the first episode of series five at the BFI in London.
Vicky McClure added, “I mean, we all panic.”
Job security for Line of Duty actors is infamously poor, with key characters including DCI Tony Gates (Lennie James), DI Lindsay Denton (Keeley Hawes) and DI Dot Cottan (Craig Parkinson) all meeting grisly deaths.
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Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins), Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays) and Georgia Trotman (Jessica Raine) were all swiftly despatched, while ACC Derek Hilton (Paul Higgins) made it all the way to the end of series four before he, too, was killed off.
So far, AC-12’s original line-up have all survived: DCI Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), DS Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) are all back for series five. But nothing is guaranteed.
In fact, even the stars enjoy winding each other up about their characters’ futures. Revealing what happened after he and McClure were sent the scripts for Line of Duty series five, Compston said: “Vicky read it before me and she went, ‘Have you read episode three yet?’ I said I’d not read it, and she went, ‘Oooooh!’
“Sent me into a panic, and I texted Jed, and he went, ‘Don’t panic, you’ll be alright.’ And I went, ‘What the F is going on?'”
Still, Compston clearly has his finger on the pulse. According to the actor, he correctly predicted that either Steve or Dot would have to die by the end of series three – even though actor Craig Parkinson was convinced it would never happen.
“We already had series four commissioned, and I knew there had to be a pay-off, so I had a drink with Craig and I went, ‘Me or you’s going to get it. One of us is going to go by the end of the series,'” Compston recalled.
“And he was like, ‘No no, we’ve got four [series], both of us will make it.’ And I said, ‘No, one of us is going to get it!'”
When Compston read the script for the series three finale and realised Dot would be the one to die, his reaction was simple: “Phew, thank f**k.”
But will the original trio make it all the way through Line of Duty series five? We don’t have long to find out…
Line of Duty series five will begin on Sunday 31st March at 9pm on BBC1