FOR five gripping series, Line Of Duty fans have been scratching their heads over the identity of criminal mastermind “H”.
But TV’s best-kept secret is under such strict lock and key that not even the man accused of being the big baddie knows.
Even the man accused of being the big baddie in Line of Duty, Adrian Dunbar, does not know who criminal mastermind ‘H’ isCredit: BBC handout
Asked if he is H ahead of the series six opener on Sunday, March 21, the actor said: “That is a very difficult question to answer. Jed does not let us know, does he? Who knows?
“The twists and turns of Jed’s mind . . . anybody could be. In the latest trailer, the finger is pointing in all different directions that you would not have imagined.
“So the clues are there as to who people are. Things will be revealed in this series. I have never been in an ongoing series before and after series two I realised the writer has absolute control of your life. If Jed wants to, he could just throw me out of a window. So consequently we are all really nice to Jed. He is our best mate.”
Adrian’s work life is made worse by his long-term co-star, Vicky McClure, 37, reading scripts before him and teasing him about his character’s destiny. He said: “It is only when we get the scripts that we know what is going on.
Adrian, 62, plays Ted Hastings in writer Jed Mercurio’s hit BBC seriesCredit: BBC
Adrian says ‘The twists and turns of Jed’s mind . . . anybody could be’Credit: BBC
“Vicky tends to be the first person who reads them and then she starts being an idiot and sends texts like, ‘Oh my God, episode two. You won’t believe what has happened to your character’.”
In the last series, Northern Irish Ted narrowly dodged being jailed as H thanks to the efforts of his colleagues DS Steve Arnott, played by Martin Compston, 36, and DI Kate Fleming, played by Vicky.
The show has been a ratings hit for the BBC since the first series in 2012, a length of time almost unheard of in the modern TV climate. More than nine million viewers tuned in to the series five finale in May 2019, making it one of the most watched telly moments of the year.
Adrian believes its success is due to former medic Jed, 55, consistently improving the scripts, along with patient telly executives sticking with the twisting storylines. And it is not just the plot that can be complex.
This week’s trailer for the new series included a clue to take viewers on a cryptic treasure hunt to find a bonus secret trailer. Adrian said: “Jed has consistently upped his game. Every time we get the new series we think, ‘Wow, he is taking the standard up’.
“If it was in America, after series two it would have been handed over to a team of writers and we would have done 13 episodes a year and very quickly we would have run out of steam. But because we have had one writer who has decided to stay with it because he loves it and it is his baby, he has kept the standard up quite remarkably over the years.
“So we are nearly ten years in and I don’t know if you have seen the new trailer — you do realise after seeing this trailer Jed has done it again. He has done it again, has Dr Mercurio.”
Adrian says ‘If Jed wants to, he could just throw me out of a window. So consequently we are all really nice to Jed’Credit: BBC
More than nine million viewers tuned in to the series five finale in May 2019Credit: BBC
This week’s trailer for the new series included a clue to take viewers on a cryptic treasure hunt to find a bonus secret trailerCredit: BBC
Adrian says he would love for Judy Dench to be cast to play in the series as it ‘would be a laugh’Credit: PA:Press Association
The show is known for bringing in big-name actors each series, with previous stars including Thandie Newton, Stephen Graham and Lennie James. And Adrian has his own ideas of who he would like to see next.
He said: “I would like to work with my mate Gary Oldman again. I think Gary would be an interesting person to bring into Line Of Duty. We worked together quite a bit when we were younger. I would love to get Judi Dench in as a character. That would be a laugh, or Ian McKellan. There are so many actors like that we could get in. The crossovers would be amazing, wouldn’t they?”
For the next series, Boardwalk Empire and Trainspotting star Kelly Macdonald, 45, comes in as Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson. Speaking to the Oxford Union, Adrian said: “They keep the show fresh. It is one of the things that makes the show unique as we give the show over completely to a lead.
“We just say, ‘They are the lead and it’s their story’, and we have to come into their story. We have always had really powerful actors and very interesting actors.
“It is excellent casting. They always find an actor who can take that role and run with it. I tend to watch the show in real time. We are all going to sit down and watch it with the audience. That is the best way to watch Line Of Duty and you can talk about it all week.”
Like the rest of the industry, the series was hit by delays to filming due to Covid-19, with work eventually beginning again in September last year.
As Trainspotting star Kelly Macdonald appears in the next series, Adrian reveals ‘It is excellent casting’Credit: Splash News
Work on the new series of Line of Duty started in September as filming was delayed due to the pandemicCredit: BBC
And like the rest of us, some of the cast are carrying a little lockdown weight. Referring to Martin and his character DS Arnott’s usual clothing choice, Adrian said: “Some people were looking a bit porky. Some people could not get into their waistcoats.
“It was a challenge as we got episode one done and then we were finished. So that whole system of filming two or three episodes in a block was gone. We could be with two different directors the same day and then jumping scenes.
“It really was quite difficult actually and the storyline is complicated. At a time I had to be prompted by Jed, who said, ‘Don’t forget this has happened’. It was not easy.”
The light-hearted real-life humour and bond between Adrian, Vicky and Martin — thanks to curry nights together in between filming in Belfast — has not only endeared them to the public but also probably kept their characters alive.
Adrian said: “Jed talks about the fact that during series two we had a chemistry. And the audience really warmed to the three of us and that is where the show is going to exist. That is when he knew. It is like going on holiday with the same three people all the time.
“Like we all cook for one another. But none of that happened this time. We normally go out and we go to bars where some of the other productions will be there, like from Game Of Thrones in Belfast, but sadly we did not have that this time around.”
And he added: “I’d worked with Vicky before but we did not know the show would take off, that we would get that big. Now the only people who we can talk to about how mad it is, is one another. The success has drawn us closer, of course.”
Also making Adrian a fan favourite are his character’s Northern Irish catchphrases, known as Tedisms. They include “I didn’t float up the Lagan in a bubble” — a reference to the river in Northern Ireland.
Discussing the success of the series and his co-star Vicky, Adrian says ‘The success has drawn us closer, of course’Credit: BBC
Adrian said: “I just chuck those things in. There is a new one this year, ‘How you wished’, which means stay quiet. That will be coming up. I have to rein Jed back sometimes and say, ‘I can’t just be saying this. I will have to cut two or three out of this scene as there is just too many of them’. So I ration them a bit.
“There are drinking games where someone drinks a pint every time you say, ‘Mother of God’. That’s great. I would not do it any more but when I was 22 I loved it.
“I am on a mural in Belfast with ‘Floating up the Lagan in a bubble’ on it. You know you have made it when you have got a mural.”
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