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Sunday Life

Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar approached by labels to make an album

 

Ulster actor Adrian Dunbar in McHugh's bar in Belfast, where he performed with his band, the Jonahs, as part of the Cathedral Quarter Belfast Eighth Open House Festival, 2006.Picture: Paul Faith/PA
Ulster actor Adrian Dunbar in McHugh's bar in Belfast, where he performed with his band, the Jonahs, as part of the Cathedral Quarter Belfast Eighth Open House Festival, 2006.Picture: Paul Faith/PA

By David O'Dornan

It's The Singing Detective! Line Of Duty star Adrian Dunbar is set to make his first album.

The Enniskillen actor is heading to the recording studio later in the year after being approached by labels.

Adrian (60) has loved singing for years, having been in bands when he was younger, and he still jams in his spare time with country-jazz outfit Adie Dunbar and the Jonahs.

When he was promoting the last series of Line Of Duty, in which he stars as no-nonsense Superintendent Ted Hastings, he sang on The Late Late Show.

Adrian told Sunday Life: "I'm hoping to do something in the recording studio this year and I've had a couple of approaches about doing things. I don't know what I'm going to do - it might be interesting to write a few songs or something - but definitely I'm going to do something.

"I was in bands many years ago, so that's where it started. I played in bands, sang backing vocals and all the rest of it.

"That was always something that was there and I just never get a chance to do it. I started acting and that went away and you focus on other things, but I've always kept it going and I've always done gigs with friends of mine, a lot of jazz gigs in Ronnie Scott's and stuff like that over the years.

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Adrian Dunbar singing on Late Late Show
Adrian Dunbar singing on Late Late Show

"I've always kept the music going. There was a time in my 40s and late 30s when things got a bit slack and you could just go back to the music. It's a really enjoyable thing to do a live gig.

"It's kind of country-jazz, really. I like stuff that straddles the easy-listening, country-jazz sort of stuff."

Adrian also hopes to go on tour, possibly next year, after his debut album is released. "The plan would be to do a few gigs," he said. "I've done a few gigs before. I had a band some years ago and we used to do a lot of gigs around the place, which was good fun. We did a lot of gigs around Bundoran - all the guys, the members of the band, were from that area.

"We used to do lots of gigs in and around there, but now and again we'd go up to Belfast and do a couple of gigs, so hopefully we can get that back together again.

"That (the tour) will be on the back burner a bit until we get an album together. The idea would be to get an album together and then do the gigs off the back of that. I could be in the studio this year if everything works out."

For now, though, Adrian's focus is the seventh Happy Days: Enniskillen International Beckett Festival, which starts on July 25 and is something he is passionate about being a part of.

Adrian Dunbar, Martin Comptson and Vicky McClure
Adrian Dunbar, Martin Comptson and Vicky McClure

He said: "I've been involved with the festival from the start. When Sean (Doran) had the idea for it, he contacted a number of people who were connected with the town.

"I got involved right from the get-go and I've been involved ever since. It's been a great success on many levels. I go back to Enniskillen quite a bit as most of my family are there.

"The sense of the place is due, I think, to the lakes. The lakes are also referenced in Beckett's work.

"We always believed those early years, when you were at school, are really the formative years. They tend to form your attitude to a lot of things in later life.

"So, what happens to someone when they go away to school, like Oscar Wilde or Samuel Beckett did, in Enniskillen? It's a very significant part of their lives.

"We think that a lot of people - Beckett scholars, fans of Beckett - come to Enniskillen and find it a really worthwhile experience to come to somewhere that's not Dublin or Paris.

Adrian Dunbar singing on Late Late Show
Adrian Dunbar singing on Late Late Show

"As festivals go, it's a really interesting festival for people to visit. Enniskillen as a town really suits having the festival there. We open up different spaces within the town for people to come to.

"My production of Ohio Impromptu is going to be on Devenish Island, for example. You get a boat and you go out to the island - that's a real experience in itself.

"To hear Beckett's words spoken and see his work performed in all these different spaces around the town is a real thrill for the people who live there.

"But it's also a real eye-opener for the people visiting from Belfast, Dublin, people from Europe, people coming from America - it's a popular festival and it's an important one.

"We struggle every year to get the festival going and I really admire how Sean Doran and Liam Brown manage to keep it going. If it wasn't for the help of the Tourist Board and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, it would hardly survive because the festival doesn't receive any money from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, sadly.

"I'm sure the budgets have been cut, but it's important to stress that we have people who are still supporting us and that the guys have managed to keep it going in very difficult circumstances.

Adrian and the Jonahs
Adrian and the Jonahs

"A lot of that's largely due to the goodwill of the people of the town, who do a lot of the work for the festival for nothing."

Adrian, who hopes to get his friend and fellow Enniskillen-born actor Charlie Lawson involved in future years, will also be filming a documentary on Beckett's life for the BBC later this year.

He is currently shooting the second series of Blood, a thriller shot in Co Kildare and Co Meath that airs on Channel 5.

He said: "It's been a big hit, especially in the UK for Channel 5. It did big numbers for them. It's set in rural Ireland, it's really good and I think we've got another good series coming.

"When we finish that, I'm doing a documentary for BBC Four on Beckett, which will be interesting.

"Then we're going to do the sixth series of Line of Duty, which starts shooting in February of next year. We'll be back in Belfast for that and I'm looking forward to it.

"I'm very busy. Obviously, when you get a profile it helps get things over the line, there's no doubting it. I was never in a returning series before and now I'm in two.

"You can go your whole career, you can do 35 or 40 years or whatever the hell it is and suddenly you find yourself doing two returning series where you'd never done one before.

"Line Of Duty has been a big game-changer in terms of profile and people knowing me. I'm very grateful that that particular role and that particular series came along for me."

n The seventh Happy Days: Enniskillen International Beckett Festival starts on July 25 and is part of the Arts Over Borders Summer Festivals, which run through to August 18. Visit www.artsoverborders.com for more information and tickets

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