Martin Compston is "so glad" 'Line of Duty' doesn't mention coronavirus.

Martin Compston

Martin Compston

The 35-year-old actor will return as DS Steve Arnott in the upcoming sixth series of the show, which was delayed due to the global health crisis, and he thinks viewers will appreciate having some time each week to not have to think about the pandemic or see social distancing and mask use on screen.

He told The Times Saturday Review: "I'm so glad that it isn't part of the show. It's consuming our lives at the moment, it's on every f***ing news channel every day. It will be nice that there's an hour on a Sunday night for seven weeks where it's not mentioned."

The Scottish actor sees it as a "blessing" that, unlike co-stars Adrian Dunbar and Vicky McClure, he has to drop his natural accent in favour of London tones for the show, because it helps him get into character.

However, he keeps it up when they are not filming so it's one less thing to worry about when getting to grips with the show's infamously taxing dialogue.

He said: "I'm lucky I've got two very understanding co-stars who put up with my Dick Van Dyke impression for the first week or two.

"But the dialogue on this job is so challenging, you're doing 25-page scenes with all these acronyms and all this forensic-speak, if I go into a scene that long with Adrian Dunbar and Kelly Macdonald and Danny Mays and Keeley Hawes and I'm worried about an accent, I'm going to drown."

Explaining how he insistently feels like "him" when he puts on the accent, he added: "So it can be tough, but it's also a blessing."

While COVID-19 isn't shown on the show, it provided extra hurdles during production and showrunner Jed Mercurio was very cautious about safety.

He said: "When it became clear there wasn't an effective national test and trace system, we started exploring what we could do ourselves."

Producers hired private contractors to carry out coronavirus tests for them, and though they had "lots" of positive results, they never had to pause filming.

He added: "And that's the whole point of testing. If you have positives and you can identify them and identify their contacts you can stop community spread. Our industry was only really able to go back into production by figuring it out for ourselves."