SHE’S a telly A-lister as Line Of Duty’s only female lead – but Vicky McClure likes taking on the sort of tough roles traditionally played by men.
For almost a decade she has played fearless anti-corruption cop Kate Fleming in the BBC1 blockbuster written by Jed Mercurio, who also gave the nation hit police thriller Bodyguard on the same channel.
Now the same production team will deliver new ITV nerve-jangler Trigger Point, a six-part thriller about the work of the Metropolitan Police Bomb Disposal Squad.
Airing next month, it will see Vicky, 38, head the cast as squad operative Lana Washington.
The similarities between Lana and LoD’s Detective Inspector Kate will add to inevitable comparisons between the two shows but Vicky is not worried.
She said: “That’s the kind of roles I love. I’ve sort of fallen into this genre. If I read a script, I often want to play the male’s role because that is the strong, committed role.
“I can’t worry about taking roles that might feel like they’re in a similar vein.
“Lana and Kate are both very strong women. Very brave and committed. But I don’t see them as the same people at all.”
Vicky is keen to point out Lana is not a police officer, even though cops are usually crawling around the tense scenes she is called to.
And it requires a lot more acting to portray the nerves of steel of her new character, as opposed to DI Fleming who regularly grilled bent coppers on LoD.
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Vicky said: “I’m definitely not cut out for the bomb squad. I’m scared to cross the road some-times. People might think I’m hard but I’m not. So I can’t see me doing that.
“What I am is very nosy, though, so in terms of interrogation and asking questions and getting to the truth, I think I’d be alright at that.”
Vicky, who shot to fame on gritty Channel 4 drama This is England, stars in Trigger Point opposite Adrian Lester, who plays fellow operative Joel Nutkins.
They work as a duo to defuse devices in buildings and vehicles and even on people.
The show sees them called out to a London block of council flats which is the home of a suspected bomb-maker.
The scenario may remind many viewers of episode one of LoD, in 2012, when Martin Compston, playing DI Steve Arnott, carried out a similar raid that led to him joining anti-corruption unit AC-12.
But LoD writer Jed, who is executive producer on Trigger Point, is relaxed about any comparisons that may be made.
He just hopes association with LoD, which attracted more than 13million viewers for its finale earlier this year, gets more people watching Trigger Point.
He said: “You know, it’s great if people come to it because they love Vicky from Line Of Duty and they want to see her in this particular role.
“That would be lovely if it gives the show more attention. But I think that the audience will realise that this is a very different piece of work.”
Vicky had to immerse herself in a whole new world of body armour, wire cutters and other technology she had previously never encountered playing LoD’s Kate.
And she loved it.
She said: “It was something I knew very little about. Something I could only imagine would bring a lot of drama. Straight away, I could see there was a lot for me to do.
“It’s always nice to get your teeth into stuff. It just felt different. The subject matter — there’s so much to play with, with the fear.”
But the playful relationship between Trigger Point’s Lana and Adrian means the storylines are not relentlessly dark.
Vicky said: “There’s lighter moments and that taps into that world. There’s that need for relief.” Jed clearly has faith in the show delivering water-cooler moments — discussed the next day in the office — just like LoD and Bodyguard did.
So he was delighted it was decided to air it weekly on ITV and not, as with so many dramas, box-set it on a streaming service.
He said: “There’s still a big section of the audience who love the experience of appointment-to-view TV.
“Something can become a talking point, and people have lots of theories about what’s going to happen next and who’s behind some kind of mystery.
“There’s elements we do have in Trigger Point and it all adds to the shared experience of television viewing.
“The trend is away from that but a substantial section of the audience wants to make up their own mind about when they view, and we want to give them what they want. It’s like we’re turning the clock back to an earlier age of television and I think plenty of people appreciate that.”
Jed is keen to do further runs of Trigger Point.
He said: “If this series goes down well, we’d love to do more. It’s set up to be a returner, and we know how much audiences love thrillers.
“They’re a big part of people’s TV experience now.
“It would be great if we’re lucky enough to get to that point.”
But Vicky knows Trigger Point is not the result of mere luck — rather of gifted Jed working with the show’s writer, newcomer Daniel Brierley.
She said: It’s an incredible show that is intelligently written, with very deep characters and all the right ingredients. It’s been a been an absolute joy.”
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