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Line of Duty: Filming in Belfast halted over fears writer Jed Mercurio had Covid-19

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Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar (World Productions/BBC/PA)

Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar (World Productions/BBC/PA)

PA Media

Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar (World Productions/BBC/PA)

Adrian Dunbar has revealed filming for Line of Duty was shut down amid fears that show creator Jed Mercurio had Covid-19.

Work on the sixth series had been under way for a month when the outbreak was declared a pandemic.

Fermanagh actor Dunbar, who plays Hastings in the smash-hit series, said Mercurio feared he had contracted the virus while working on another show.

"There are a number of productions running at the moment in Northern Ireland and there is one called Bloodlands, with Jimmy Nesbitt, that was filming," he explained.

"Jed Mercurio, our writer, is executive producer on that series.

"They were lucky enough to have finished a few weeks ago, two or three weeks ago. I think a couple of members of that crew started to display some of the symptoms of the coronavirus, so everyone thought, 'Okay, it is going to happen now'.

"Jed self-isolated immediately and we all realised that members of our cast and crew could be carriers.

"We just had to put people's lives and livelihoods above everything else.

"They took the decision to shut down a couple of weeks ago, so it has put everything on hold."

The new run of the drama was due to shown on BBC One later this year, but Dunbar believes that is now unlikely.

"We got about a month's work done. We were supposed to finish in June and now it looks like we may not start again until May or June," he said.

"That has pushed everything back. What I am hoping for is that because we all stopped at the same time, we all start at the same time.

"I am hoping that the Government in Ireland and the UK Government coordinate when they restart.

"It wouldn't be good if the UK decided to start while Ireland was still locked down.

"My feeling is that everything is going to get pushed (back).

"We are going to want to complete what we didn't get finished and (we will be) pushing all new projects down the line. We don't know."

Dunbar (61) is currently on lockdown in London with his family, all of whom are in good spirits.

"Look, we are all doing the best that we can and at least the weather is good", the actor joked.

"I suppose we are lucky that we have a garden and we are staying put, which is right.

"It won't last for ever and I know it is not as easy for everyone, but staying in at home is the right thing to do right now."

Belfast Telegraph