IT’S a Friday lunchtime and Martin Compston is on a fleeting visit to his home town of Greenock having flown in from Belfast, fresh from the set of Line Of Duty.

We had been due to speak 24 hours earlier but the collapse of Flybe put the kibosh on his travel plans, leaving the actor having to scramble to catch an alternative flight, determined not to miss the 30th anniversary ball at Ardgowan Hospice of which he is patron.

Later that evening, a bottle of hand sanitiser signed by Compston and Celtic player Greg Taylor will sell for £520 at the charity auction. It is a more carefree time: BC (before coronavirus).

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We talk about the effects of coronavirus on his industry – the new James Bond movie being among the first to push back its release date by seven months – yet, in that moment, the juggernaut of the virus is still largely a distant blot on the landscape.

Compston is sanguine. “It’s a case of listening to the advice being given by medical experts,” he says. “We will take it as we’re told. If something happens to the job on health advice, then so be it. If not, then we just keep working and doing what we have to do.”

A little over a fortnight later, as you read this now, things have moved on dramatically. Production for the new series of Line Of Duty was suspended last week. Compston, like many in his industry, finds himself in limbo for the foreseeable future.

In recent days, the 35-year-old actor had to hotfoot it back to the Las Vegas home he shares with his wife Tianna Chanel Flynn before the US travel ban came into force and the Nevada city began a 30-day lockdown.

Although only a silver lining, if you are self-isolating, The Nest – a gripping five-part drama starring Compston – began on BBC One yesterday.

Written by Nicole Taylor, who penned the multi-award-winning Wild Rose and Three Girls, the thriller centres on affluent couple Dan and Emily, played by Compston and Sophie Rundle, who are unable to have a child of their own. In a last desperate attempt, they turn to surrogacy.

When fate throws a troubled young woman into their path, it seems the perfect solution. Kaya – in a mesmerising performance by Mirren Mack – needs money for a fresh start. Dan and Emily want a baby. Yet, things quickly begin to unravel, and it is far from the seamless transaction they imagined.

How would Compston describe the series? “An emotional thriller,” he says. “It was refreshing to be involved in something which is an absolute page-turner without the need for a load of violence. There is an air of danger throughout, which is a credit to Nicole’s amazing writing.

“It’s exciting and really fires along. When you think it’s going to go one way, it goes the other. Nicole said to me a while ago she would be writing a part with me in mind. You hear that a lot and it never happens. The fact it actually happened … I was chuffed to bits.

“At one point the character is described as being ‘a right good guy who loves the Celtic’. That had me on board. Nicole mentioned Greenock a couple of times as well.”

It is powerful subject matter. How did Compston get himself in the headspace for the role? “I personally didn’t have much knowledge about surrogacy going into this,” he admits. “You see stories of things going wrong and it’s more common than you would think.

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"Even though the child is, for all intents and purposes, their egg and DNA, it’s still not their child until the surrogate signs it over at birth. It’s pretty terrifying to give over that amount of trust to someone. There have been some horror stories with people in court.

“With the characters, one of the great things is that you never quite know whose side you’re on,” he continues. “Because, on the surface, you have this couple who have everything: they are madly in love with each other, live in this incredible house and have very successful careers.

“The one thing they want, but they can’t have, is a baby. At every turn, things have gone wrong and it’s slowly destroying them. They have one last roll of the dice. It’s that question of how far would you go and what can money buy?”

Alongside Compston and Rundle, known for her roles in Peaky Blinders and Gentleman Jack, the cast includes Shirley Henderson, Kate Dickie, David Hayman, Katie Leung and James Harkness. Not to forget the aforementioned Mirren Mack, a talented upcoming actor from Stirling.

Mack, who recently appeared in Netflix comedy-drama Sex Education, is outstanding as Kaya in The Nest. “Aye, Mirren is a wee superstar,” says Compston. “For me, that role was always going to be pivotal. Because it really does make or break the show. It had to someone young with gravitas. Mirren naturally has that.

“She is great at her craft, has a confidence and a way of speaking, but can also be really f****** hard. She has an edge to her when she wants it.”

Authenticity is a theme that Compston, who began his acting career in the 2002 Ken Loach film Sweet Sixteen, returns to throughout our conversation. “You tend to use your ‘phone voice’ when you’re on the TV,” he asserts.

“When I watch Peaky Blinders, my wife is American, and she has no clue what’s being said half the time, but you get the sense of it and know what’s going on. When you try to sanitise stuff like that, you really chip away at the heart of it.

“It was refreshing going into ADR [re-recording dialogue for clarity in post-production] and saying: ‘We’re not doing that again, that’s clear enough.’ I feel the drama itself is raw and authentic and proper west coast of Scotland.”

Glasgow looks amazing in The Nest with a raft of landmarks – the Clyde Arc, Botanic Gardens, City Chambers – lighting up the screen. A stunning house, Cape Cove, on the shore of Loch Long, Argyll, was used to shoot scenes as Emily and Dan’s home.

“You can see there’s a very concerted effort on Nicole’s part to show off Glasgow and the west,” says Compston. “There’s a scene at the top of Greenock where I’m on a bench. It’s the same bench that I have a scene on in Sweet Sixteen. That felt like I was coming full


Compston sports a Celtic top in The Nest, he says. Is there a special significance to the jersey that Compston wears? “It’s a replica of the Lisbon Lions top [from 1967],” he confirms. “It’s nice to get it on there and remind the rest of the country we were the first to win the European Cup.”

When we speak ahead of filming for Line Of Duty being suspended, he is less than three weeks into what was to be a four-month shoot for series six alongside Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar and guest star Kelly Macdonald.

“It’s a job unlike any other,” he says. “I’ll never laugh as much on any other job as I do with Line Of Duty just because of working with Adrian and Vicky and the crew in general. We’ve become so close and know each other inside out.”

Compston, like many of us, will be spending an inordinate amount cooling his heels. A while back he had a Tennent’s Lager tap installed at his Las Vegas property and that’s not the only home comfort he craves.

“My mum always sends me a crate of Irn-Bru. We’ve had the place in Las Vegas for two years and I’ve spent four or five months there, so it’s probably the other way about. I’m chicken wing daft. That’s something the Americans do really well.”

The Nest continues on BBC One, Sundays, 9pm. All series of Line of Duty are available on BBC iPlayer.