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Kelly Macdonald reveals why she had to stop watching Line of Duty

The star of Line of Duty's sixth series says that she "really started panicking" after watching the show ahead of filming.

Kelly Macdonald
Published: Saturday, 6th March 2021 at 11:06 am

Line of Duty star Kelly Macdonald has said that she had to stop watching the BBC show ahead of filming series six, revealing that she "really started panicking" while watching the show's previous guest leads deliver such brilliant performances.


The Scottish actress, who will play guest lead DCI Joanne Davidson in Line of Duty's upcoming series, told The Guardian that she started watching the show to prepare herself for the "very dense script" and "lots of dialogue" ahead of her.

"I'd never done as much dialogue on any job," she said. "The jobs I've done have been emotional dialogue and this was a different thing – it's information. My first thought was that this would be really challenging, and that's probably a good thing, but I did have to think about it."

Macdonald was aware of Line of Duty's popularity and reputation before she was cast, but hadn't actually watched it yet.

Line of Duty

So, after receiving the script for her first episode and immediately getting "freaked out at the intensity", she began watching the BBC drama from the very beginning to inspire herself – but abandoned the show in season four.

"It started getting close to the beginning of filming and I really started panicking," she explained. "And Thandie was being so good!"

Line of Duty's fourth series starred Thandie Newton as DCI Roz Huntley, an officer investigated by AC-12 after allegedly mishandling forensic evidence in a serial killer's case.

Intriguingly, Macdonald also mentioned that she knew of one person who "had been offered a role in some season and turned it down" because of the sheer volume of details.

On getting to know her character, who is investigated by AC-12 in series six, Macdonald said that as creator Jed Mercurio released the scripts to actors just a few episodes ahead of filming, she didn't know just how good or bad DCI Joanne Davidson was when shooting her scenes.

"Jed had called my character enigmatic, so I clung on to that," she said, adding that while reading the script's police jargon, she had no idea what she was talking about a lot of the time. "We did a read-through and it was pretty hard going. I think we read three episodes, and I was just a shell of a woman by the end.

"When my publicist sent me a list of things I could and couldn't take about – to be honest, it's the kind of detailed forensic policing that even when I'm saying the words, I'm only half aware of what I actually mean."


Series six, which begins on Sunday 21st March, will see AC-12's Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) return to investigate DCI Davidson, alongside new recruit DC Chloe Bishop (Shalom Brune-Franklin).

Line of Duty returns on Sunday 21st March at 9pm on BBC One. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide

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