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RUC 'sectarian and oppressive,' says Line Of Duty star Adrian Dunbar

By Stephen Gordon

Line Of Duty star Adrian Dunbar has revealed he saw the RUC as a “sectarian” and “oppressive force” when he was growing up in Northern Ireland.

Enniskillen-born Dunbar (58) expressed his views in a major interview ahead of Sunday night's eagerly anticipated series finale.

In the show he plays a Catholic former RUC officer now heading a police anti-corruption unit in England.

Dunbar, who was one of seven children in a Catholic family, told the Radio Times: “The RUC were a sectarian organisation, given that they were drawn from one section of the community. It wasn’t my section of the community, so it was hard not to see them as an oppressive force.”

The local actor has been ever-present in all four series of Line Of Duty as Superintendent Ted Hastings, the tough Ulsterman who heads the crack AC-12 anti-corruption team.

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Dunbar has been a familiar face on TV for many years, but his role as Hastings in the hit show has made him a star.

Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio says Hastings’ back story as an ex-RUC officer made him perfect as AC-12’s top man.

“In the history of policing, veterans of the RUC, when they’ve moved to other forces, have often been ideal anti-corruption officers because they don’t have those long-standing links going back to the police training colleges and particular local investigations. They are outsiders,” said Mercurio.

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In a twist in the latest series Hastings also refused to deny claims that he was a Freemason.

Mercurio has suggested that the Freemasons link and Hastings’ RUC record will be explored further in future series of the show, which is shot in Belfast.

Dunbar himself has revealed that he sees Hastings as a mix of Belfast actor Jimmy Ellis’ portrayal of Sgt Bert Lynch in Z-Cars, actors Gordon Fulton and Fulton McKay (of Porridge fame), and legendary football managers Bill Shankly and Sir Alex Ferguson.

“Leaders of men, high moral, very straight-talking and terribly loyal to their people.” Of Ellis, he said: “I grew up seeing Z-Cars and I was hugely excited by Jimmy Ellis (who died in 2014). His wife Robina says she sees a lot of Jimmy Ellis in Ted Hastings, which is a very high tribute. That’s a bit of a touchstone.”

The current series has seen the tables turned on moralistic Hastings. He’s facing allegations of sexism, unfair treatment of a junior officer and, most seriously, suspicions he belongs to a corrupt network of cops.

In tonight’s gripping finale, Hastings is feeling the pressure as his officers struggle to bring a case against his nemesis, senior detective Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton).

Line Of Duty, Sunday BBC1, 9pm.

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