Line Of Duty

BBC Two's police corruption drama returns

Interview with Vicky McClure

There are so many reasons why I came back. The scripts are really intelligent; when you first read them you think they will need reading at least a few more times just because you have to really think. I really enjoy TV that really keeps you on your toes."Vicky McClure
Category: BBC Two; Drama

At the end of series one, we saw Kate going home and we met her son – how does this series pick up from there?

It starts from the beginning really. The affair she has with Richard Akers obviously had a detrimental effect to her family life, which then becomes part of the case. As far as Kate is concerned, she is battling between her family being the most important thing and also being ruthlessly dedicated to the job.

What is the key case this time? Last time it was an investigation around Tony Gates’ character - what is the set up this time?

It twists and turns so many times. Lindsay becomes the main suspect which leads into Jayne Akers, the Ambush, Dryden – even Hastings is being looked into now. It does stem off to many different things but it does start with the ambush and that will be the key part to the investigation.

What is Kate’s relationship like with Martin’s character this series - is there a change?

I think there is a change; you get more of an idea of their relationship. There is a difference in ranks – Kate is a DC, he is a DS – I think this will always niggle at her a little bit as he has that slight bit of authority. But she does seem to get a lot of the answers just before he does, which can be a bit annoying for him. They battle at work, but they are very dedicated to one another. I think they have a really good working relationship. There are definitely some really nice scenes between Steve and Kate. He helps her out quite a lot with the troubles she has with her family and ends up giving her a place to stay. The great thing is that it’s not a sexual relationship at all. Steve has his own thing going on with many ladies in the show! It’s nice to see they have a genuine friendship and outside of work - I think they are really good mates. I guess they don’t really hang out together as much as people think, but when they do it is a true friendship.

The character Georgia is introduced to us quite early on in episode one as a pairing with Steve. How does this affect the dynamic between you?

There is definitely frostiness around Kate when Georgia appears. Georgia is great and it’s such an interesting storyline -  she comes into the office and takes on the case that Kate says she doesn’t want to be included in, because of the personal connection she has with the people involved. When Kate backs off – she soon sees this new, fresh woman walk in who totally takes over the case. And then Kate jumps straight back on board. You can obviously tell that she has issues with her.

Do you think we are going to see a lot more of people’s backgrounds, as well as investigating the case in this series? How has it been affected by Hastings?

There’s not too much about the characters’ personal lives –it’s mainly set around the case. I think Hastings has a really interesting storyline and it is definitely a trigger with his character to pull through to different scenes.With Steve, Kate and Hastings, there is definitely an element where their personal lives are affecting their work. The majority of the drama is based on the case but it does show what is going on behind the scenes as well. The relationship Kate and Steve have with Hastings has grown loads; he is like the father figure.

In the first series, you said that working in a police station previously in your own life has helped you conduct research, have you spoken to anyone new this time around?

Yes, we did. Our police advisor came to speak to us at the rehearsals and he had gone through the scripts with a fine toothcomb. The one thing that Line Of Duty gets completely dead on is the facts. So, if you are a police officer and watching it, the hope is that no one would believe what is on screen wouldn’t really happen. Whatever happens in the script and the story, it’s as true to life as we can get it – with the element of trying to add drama into it and keep it exciting for the audience. Because we have all had bigger parts this year, we have an understanding of the dialogue better. That was down to Jed but the police advisor really went through it with us and told us parts of his personal story and experiences which are always really interesting to take on board.

Was Jed around much to help you?

He was around a lot this year which was really helpful. Daniel and Douglas are great, they both direct in very different ways but are both telling the same story. But with having the writer on set, you can always get a little bit more confirmation. It’s difficult to film out of sync with something like this as the storylines are so complex.  As much as the directors are on it and they know it through and through, there are times where we would be questioning things thinking – should we know that now? And Jed is there to say – “Good point, well made! Let’s change this” or if wanted to add a bit of dialogue etc. He is very, very handy to have around and he knows his stuff and is on hand whenever we are doing some form of hospital scene for example – he knows exactly where to put all the instruments!

What is Kate’s relationship like with Lindsay, the new character?

It’s a very complicated relationship they have. We don’t see Kate in a different light; she is taking on a job, going into the force and trying her best to befriend Lindsay without being too obvious or overfriendly. I think Kate can establish straight away that Lindsey is quite a frosty character, quite private. But there is a moment where Kate goes over to her house at the start and puts her in her place, which gives Kate a really good idea of where the character is going. But as we get into Lindsay, we see all some really interesting dynamics between them both just because Kate is having to play it so many different ways – one minute she is trying to be hard with her the next minute she is trying to break her down. She is a very, very complicated character to try and break. So we had a lot of fun trying to get those things right.

What was the most challenging scene to film?

We did an 18-page scene, which everyone was aware was coming. You know one of those scenes where you think, ‘it’s D Day’! Martin, Mark and I talked about it for weeks on end asking how everyone is getting on with the lines etc. We were all rather nervous about it, but for me, it was my most enjoyable scene. Mainly because learning 18 pages of dialogue was such a massive challenge. The scene is incredible and Mark Bonner is absolutely sterling in it. We really went for it and the more we shot it, the more we enjoyed it. The next day we had to do it once more so we could get reactions from other cast members and Daniel the director said we would run it once and not to worry if you forget your lines, we already had the scene. We absolutely smashed it, we didn’t get a thing wrong as it was all ingrained in our brains and we all thought ‘why didn’t we shoot that one’?! There was also a nice scene between me and Martin at Kate’s house; it’s always a pleasure to do something a bit grittier.

From hearing you talk, playing Kate isn’t an easy character. What made you come back?

There are so many reasons why I came back. The scripts are really intelligent; when you first read them you think they will need reading at least a few more times just because you have to really think. I really enjoy TV that really keeps you on your toes. All the people involved in Line Of Duty – Martin, Craig, Adrian, Neil, Jed and Simon etc – we just formed a really great friendship and group across the series and there is no way I wouldn’t want to be part of that. I do enjoy playing Kate, the first series was great to try and figure her out, but she has grown up a little bit now and I definitely feel like we have found another layer to her. I am really happy and proud to be part of a show that I think is very well told. Without Jed’s writing, his understanding of that world, it wouldn’t be the show it is. They are very interesting with their casting. Myself and Neil Morrissey are not obvious people to be cast in these roles and I think that is one thing that really attracted people to the show last year.

Do you think there is more life in Kate at the end of this series?

I hope so. We all want it. We all have our ideas of series three and Jed says, “Hey, I write the script, keep your noses out!” Before you know it, we have all written five different versions of series three. We are so informed by the characters now, it would be great to go again and I hope we do.

What was the main difference between shooting this series and the first?

I think this time around we have all become a lot more comfortable. In series one I would have maybe felt a little uncomfortable about saying to Jed, can I add this in? Whereas this year, Jed invited us to keep talking to him because we were starting to know the characters almost as well as he does.