TV: Adrian Dunbar on Line of Duty: 'You don't think you're going to reach those heights ever again'

Ridley with Adrian Dunbar as Ridley, Bronagh Waugh as DI Carol Farman, Terence Maynard as DCI Paul Goodwin and George Bukhari as DC Darren Benton

Pictures: ITV
Ridley with Adrian Dunbar as Ridley, Bronagh Waugh as DI Carol Farman, Terence Maynard as DCI Paul Goodwin and George Bukhari as DC Darren Benton Pictures: ITV

As new detective drama Ridley lands on ITV, Danielle de Wolfe discusses Brits' love of crime-solving with stars Bronagh Waugh and Adrian Dunbar.

For many actors, a career-defining role is often accompanied by the very real danger of typecasting. But for Adrian Dunbar, it's a concept of little concern.

Best known for playing Superintendent Ted Hastings in hit BBC procedural drama Line Of Duty, the Northern Irish actor rapidly became one of the most recognisable faces on television.

Now though, nearly a decade on from his character's on-screen debut, the 64-year-old former Bafta-nominee is set to return to his crime-fighting roots.

Re-joining the force as part of brand new ITV detective drama Ridley, it's a project the actor describes as a "big responsibility".

"When you come off the back of creating a really interesting character, in Ted Hastings, you don't think you're going to reach those heights ever again," reflects Dunbar.

"Programmes like this, they really do rely on the heart at the middle of it all, and that's usually provided by the central character."

So, what do we know about Ridley's cast and characters?

Stepping out of retirement and into police consultancy, Dunbar's titular character, Alex Ridley, is a former Detective Inspector with decades of experience under his belt.

"I'm getting to play a lot more of me in Ridley because he's out of the office. (With) Ted, most of the time you saw him within a very tight world," explains Dunbar.

"I'm having to bring a bit more of myself to those moments of emotion," he adds.

Residing "at the top end of policing" for most of his life, a combination of health concerns and a family tragedy - his wife and daughter having died in a house fire - are revealed to have brought forward his impending retirement.

"He's a complicated character," reflects the actor. "You don't immediately warm to him - I think it's going to take a little bit of time for us to sort of understand where he's coming from."

The series opener sees Alex running a jazz club, but living an otherwise isolated life in the north of England - with much of the series shot in and around Lancashire. It's not long before his solitude is disrupted, however, as he finds himself enlisted by former protegee DI Carol Farman.

Played by Bronagh Waugh, the 39-year-old Northern Irish actress describes her character as "cheeky", labelling her a "maverick" who "does things slightly differently".

Best known for her roles in Unforgotten and The Fall, as well as a four-year stint in Chester-based soap Hollyoaks, Waugh says the detective duo are "kindred spirits".

"I think they've got a gorgeous friendship that sometimes is a bit father-daughter-like - and sometimes much more friendship-like," adds Waugh. "They're not like the other coppers at this place. And I think that's what kind of bonds them together."

It's a role that required her to adopt a Mancunian accent - and not for the first time. Having played Manchester-based police officer Stella Blackett in Noel Clarke's ITV drama Viewpoint, Waugh reveals this time around, she spoke with northern inflections for a "whole six months".

"I didn't break until the wrap party!" exclaims the actress, who is quick to clarify her front door marked the only period of respite. "I just had a baby when I did this - he was five months old when I started. He would come and visit on set because I was still breastfeeding ... so that was weird for him."

Citing the pub as her go-to research location, the actress concludes that a pint at the local is "the best way (to) learn the colloquialisms and small mannerisms that I just don't think I would learn in other places."

Written and created by Paul Matthew Thompson - one of the lead writers of ITV's hit detective drama Vera - and co-created by Jonathan Fisher (Blood, Hollington Drive, Penance), it's a series that's shaping up to be an enticing offering.

So, what's the wider premise?

With Dunbar revealing his own musical inclination fed into the exploits of his on-screen character, the first feature-length episode is steeped in jazz.

"I've always been interested in music," explains Dunbar, recounting the "little country band" he formed during the 70s. At one point even playing with an Elvis Presley impersonator - "for a while", smiles the actor - he goes on to note that "when jobs weren't coming in thick and fast in my early 40s, I started the band again".

With those musical undertones bleeding into the show thanks to Dunbar's close relationship with co-creator Fisher, we find the former detective turning his back on both music and self-imposed isolation in favour of policing.

"Something happens at the start of episode one that teases him back into the world of work," explains Dunbar. "It's probably the best place for him to be."

Reflecting on the fact that "isolation is not really good for anybody's head", the series sees his character pulled back into the murky world of crime by a particularly tricky murder case. With Carol believing her mentor to be the only man for the job, the serendipitous timing of the case is clear to see.

"There's so many crime dramas around at the moment. We're mad about them, us Brits. We love it. But what can you do to set yourself apart and what can you do to make it different?" reflects Waugh.

"There's a huge musical theme - and I've never seen that before. And it looks different. It's got a different feel to it - set in the north of England, in the Yorkshire Dales and the Moors. But it's also got a kind of Boston/New York feel as well."

And with Waugh summing up the opportunity to work with Dunbar as "a gift", the actress signs off by labelling her co-star her "mentor".

Adding: "We've mimicked the relationship with Carol and Ridley".

Ridley launches on STV tonight, 8pm.