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See what the cast of Line of Duty looked like at the start of their careers

The BBC stars in their first on-screen roles

line of duty cast
Eve Crosbie
TV & Film Writer
25 April 2021
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line of duty series 5© Photo: BBC

Viewers have been loving the new series of Line of Duty. The gripping BBC drama has made household names out of its stars, but have you ever wondered how they got their break in TV? 

MORE: 5 shows to watch if you love Line of Duty 

Keep reading to find out more about the incredible cast's first on-screen roles...

WATCH: Have you been enjoying Line of Duty?

adrian dunbar

Adrian Dunbar

Adrian Dunbar made his feature film debut in the late eighties but really only became a name to know in 1991 when he co-wrote and starred in Hear My Song, which earned him a Best Original Screenplay BAFTA nomination. Before he landed the role of the nation's best-loved police chief, Ted Hastings, he appeared as Martin Summers in Ashes to Ashes, Richard Plantagenet in The Hollow Crown, and as Father Flaherty in Broken.

MORE: Adrian Dunbar's marriage - everything you need to know

martin compston© Photo: Rex

Martin Compston

Scottish actor Martin Compston actually had a short-lived career as a pro footballer, playing for Greenock Morton F.C. before he found fame as an actor. On a whim, he decided to audition for the lead role in Ken Loach's Sweet Sixteen which was being filmed locally in his hometown of Greenock. The film won the highly prestigious award of Best Screenplay at Cannes Film Festival in 2002 and turned Martin into an overnight star in Scotland.

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vicky mcclure© Photo: Rex

Vicky McClure

Vicky McClure's first-ever acting job was in Shane Meadows's 1999 comedy-drama A Room for Romeo Brass. She was just 15 at the time and nearly gave up acting after she failed to secure any roles for four years. Luckily, she was cast in the director's next project, This Is England, as well as the three Channel 4 miniseries that followed, catapulting her to stardom.

MORE: Line of Duty creator talks killing off main characters: 'Nobody is safe'

kelly macdonald© Photo: Rex

Kelly Macdonald

Playing season six's guest lead is Kelly Macdonald, who got her start in the industry at age 16 after spotting a leaflet advertising an open casting session for Trainspotting. At the time, Kelly was working in a bar and had no acting roles to her name. She landed the part of Diane, Ewan McGregor's character's underage girlfriend before scoring roles in the likes of Gosford Park, Nanny McPhee and the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men.

stephen graham© Photo: Rex

Stephen Graham

Stephen Graham joined the cast in season five as undercover officer John Corbett. The actor rose to fame playing Andrew "Combo" Gascoigne in the film This Is England (alongside fellow Line of Duty's own Vicky McClure) but, it was in 1990 that a young Stephen made his debut in Dancin' Thru the Dark.

keeley hawes© Photo: Rex

Keeley Hawes

DI Lindsey Denton, one of the show's most memorable characters, was played by Keeley Hawes. The actress made a name for herself playing Zoe Reynolds in the BBC series Spooks, where she met husband Matthew McFadyen, but before that, she had been quietly working the TV circuit for more than a decade. 

thandiwe newton

Thandiwe Newton

Thandiwe Newton, who appeared in series four as DCI Roz Huntley, shot to stardom in 1994 when she starred alongside Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in the film Interview with the Vampire. 

MORE: Adrian Dunbar talks Line of Duty spoilers: 'There's been a very big clue' 

It was actually on her first film credit, 1991's Flirting, which also starred Nicole Kidman, that the actress' name was misspelt as "Thandie", which she used for three decades before reverting to the original Zimbabwean spelling.

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