Vicky McClure and Neil Morrissey in Line Of Duty

A five-part BBC thriller puts the spotlight on the police’s anti-corruption force. Vicky McClure and Neil Morrissey tell TVChoice more about the drama that also stars Lennie James, Adrian Dunbar and Craig Parkinson…

Tell us about your character, DC Kate Fleming…
Vicky McClure: She’s the only female officer in her group. She strikes me as very much sitting in the back, observing a lot of the time. But she can be quite brutal. She’ll do what she needs to get what she wants. She’s also doing her best to fit in with the guys, because they’re all quite dominant characters. I’ve got bruises, as I like to get involved — try and be one of the lads myself!

Line Of DutyIs it weird seeing yourself as a police officer?
Vicky McClure: It is and I’m actually really enjoying it. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone, it’s not something I’m used to — the police jargon, that sort of dialogue. I’ve had to get my head around it. I’ve got friends who are in the force, so I did have chats with them, although nothing too intense because for me it’s very much a character piece, as well as the fact that we’re all playing police officers. But yes, you feel like you stand slightly differently when you’ve got the uniform on.

What do you think your friends in the force will make of this? Will they like it?
Vicky McClure: Yes, because it’s about police corruption and it’s not just about the crime they’re fighting. It’s very much internal, it’s about the characters, it’s about the officers. It’s seeing how sort of blasé they are about their jobs, which is how it goes sometimes.

You’ve worked a lot with Shane Meadows on the This Is England films. He lets you mould the script to an extent. Was this quite a different experience?
Vicky McClure: I’m not going to lie, it has been, yes. It’s been really weird and it’s a great learning curve for me. I remember, when I read the scripts, I was really excited and desperately wanted the job, which I thought would be really challenging for me. Lol [her character in This Is England for whose portrayal she won a BAFTA] is obviously a massive part of my career and that’s done me loads of good. But I want to be able to stretch and see if I can take this on. I can’t guarantee I’m going to blow people away, but I’m certainly doing the best I can. But it is different. I mean it’s a lot more structured — you don’t make lines up, you learn them.

Is this your first police drama Neil?
Neil Morrissey: Yes! I suppose you couldn’t call Boon a police drama, that was more a private detective thing, wasn’t it? And it was 20-odd years ago.

Line Of DutyWhat can you tell us about DC Nigel Morton?
Neil Morrissey: Morton’s a loyal cop, very loyal to his boss, DCI Tony Gates [Lennie James], because they’re best friends as well as employer and employee. He’s the Detective Chief Inspector and I’m a mere DC — a Detective Constable. I’m not even high-ranking in my own unit. But, he’s my mate and I’d do anything to support him.

In the show, Tony is investigated for corruption — does Morton’s friendship lead him to do things he shouldn’t to defend his boss?
Neil Morrissey: It depends how you see it, because in terms of his own morality, no. In terms of general morality, then perhaps it could be seen that he’s doing certain things that aren’t exactly run of the mill police work. But what we find within the script is there’s a certain leeway an officer takes in order to get results.

Line Of DutySo when we start, is Tony’s group a highly functioning unit that is doing really well?
Neil Morrissey: Extremely well, yes, and that’s part of the reason why they’re under suspicion. They are just too damned good, and it’s all the designer suits and the flash cars we’ve got, because we work on a bonus system.

Does this feel like a departure from the kind of stuff we’ve seen you do before?
Neil Morrissey:
It’ll be new for the public to see me in something which is quite gritty. Hopefully it will be a shocking departure, which is great! I do some quite good things in this, you know. I’ve got some cracking little scenes that are just absolutely not what people would expect from me, Neil Morrissey.

Was that part of the reason you took the role?
Neil Morrissey:
Oh totally! I mean you always strive for variety in your career and this has been a really great opportunity for me to come and show off in that sort of area. So, yes, I’m really chuffed to get the opportunity.

Have you got an all-time favourite police drama?
Neil Morrissey:
Oh, obviously The Sweeney. That’s my era, when I was growing up. That and The Professionals. I also liked Starsky And Hutch, or ‘Car Keys and Clutch’ as they were known at my school.

BBC2, Tuesday

Graham Kibble-White