This interview was originally published in Radio Times magazine.


Known and beloved by many as one of the leading actors in Line of Duty, Martin Compston is back on our screens – but not in the capacity you may instantly imagine.

While the actor is known for his roles in the BBC crime drama, as well as The Rig and Vigil, Compston returns to TV in Martin Compston's Norwegian Fling. The new series of the travelogue follows the actor and his friend Phil MacHugh as they travel the length and breadth of Norway from Oslo to the North Arctic.

The first season saw the pair travel their homeland of Scotland but in this second series, they're touring remote scenery and some breathtaking adventures. To mark the release of the new series, Compston chatted to The Radio Times Podcast about his Nordic adventures as well as his obsession with The Bear, the pull of his home country and of course, whether he would return alongside Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar for a seventh season of Line of Duty.

He also chats about owing his career to Ken Loach and Jed Mercurio, as well as wanting to do less on-screen nudity and how his position in the industry has helped those conversations.

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What’s the view from your sofa?

Here in Vegas in front of the sofa is my son’s table, which is full of toys. When you’ve got a four-year-old, the house is a riot. We’ve got a big telly. My wife [American actor and event planner, Tianna Chanel Flynn] has green fingers so there are flowers and plants hanging around. We’re very lucky to also have a home in Greenock, in Scotland, where I’m from – the view from the sofa there is overlooking the Clyde and it’s beautiful.

What have you enjoyed watching on TV?

I’ve just started Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is brilliant. I got quite obsessed with The Bear – it was pretty sensational. I couldn’t make my son’s breakfast without saying, “Yes, Chef!”

Who gets control of the remote? Something tells me it’s your son…

Oh, for sure! All we get are Disney films, Minions and Despicable Me. My wife would probably say it’s me who controls the remote – although she gets control of most things in the house, to be fair!

When did you realise you wanted to be an actor?

When I was 15, I went on a double date with my mate and we saw My Name Is Joe, a Ken Loach movie. It was the first time I saw people on the big screen who spoke like me. The following year, Ken was casting a movie [Sweet Sixteen] in my town and I went along. I’m very lucky – everything aligned for me in that period. If I hadn’t seen that film, I would never have gone to the audition and if Ken wasn’t holding auditions in my town, I probably wouldn’t be an actor.

Vicky McClure, Martin Compston and Adrian Dunbar in Line of Duty.
Vicky McClure, Martin Compston and Adrian Dunbar in Line of Duty. BBC

You made your name as Line of Duty’s Steve Arnott. Did you realise how much that role would change your life?

I probably owe my career to two people – Ken Loach and Jed Mercurio. I didn’t think anybody would ever trust me to be the lead on a BBC network show. None of us had any idea what it would become. Vicky [McClure] and Aidy [Adrian Dunbar] became my best friends. We speak pretty much daily on WhatsApp.

Would you do another series?

Every year it has got bigger and the numbers on the last series were insane. It was quite overwhelming! I remember going for a walk in Edinburgh when the last episode aired. The streets were empty because everybody was inside watching the finale! It felt like mammoth pressure – and almost became too big and took on a life of its own. We’re really lucky that we’ve got each other to keep ourselves grounded.

You’ve spoken out about wanting to do less on-screen nudity. Does having an impressive CV make that easier?

Absolutely – I’m lucky I’ve got myself in a position where I can have those conversations. I also feel I’ve done my time – I’ve done full frontal. I’ve had my arse out loads. I sometimes get sent pictures of it on social media – being a father, you do have to start being more careful, but if it was essential to the story, I’d be up for it.

In your latest travelogue you’ve swapped Scotland for Norway, where you meet a pack of wolves, and one puts its tongue in your mouth!

I’ve realised I’ve got a mad sense of security. When the experts said it was OK to meet the wolves, I thought fine. I didn’t really have any fears. I think that’s why the show works – my travel companion Phil MacHugh likes Scandi pop and fine dining – I like running with wolves and getting ducked underwater! Maybe I’m having a midlife crisis – I’ve also started taking three-wheel motorbike lessons.

The first series felt like a homage to Scotland – as you’ve got older do you feel that pull of home more?

One hundred per cent. I’m lucky I have a home there. With age, you do start to appreciate what the country means to you. I do as much as I can to try and promote it. I’m very lucky that I’m getting to be on the other side of the camera, producing. There are a lot of Scottish stories I want to tell.

Martin Compston's Norwegian Fling is available to watch on BBC iPlayer and will air on BBC Two on Friday 23rd February at 9pm.

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