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The day Adrian Dunbar got a friend out of jail


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Adrian Dunbar (PA)

Adrian Dunbar (PA)

Adrian Dunbar (PA)

LINE of Duty's Adrian Dunbar has told how he got a friend freed from jail for a day while house-hunting in the Republic of Ireland in the early 1990s.

The Fermanagh actor, best known for playing Superintendent Ted Hastings in the BBC police drama, said he got a pal called Derek released after having a word with the governor of Loughan House Open Centre in Blacklion, Co Cavan, while en route to view a cottage he and his brothers wanted to buy.

Adrian (right), who is currently filming season six of Line of Duty in Belfast, said the governor agreed to temporarily release his pal after he recognised the actor from his role in the 1991 comedy Hear My Song.

He also revealed a remarkable family connection to the house he would eventually buy.

"It was my brothers who got it going. They said, 'Look, there's very little work for us in the winter'. This was about 20-odd years ago. We were using punts at the time, which would give you an idea (of when it was)," Adrian explained.

"They (his brothers) said they'd been gathering up windows and radiators throughout the year and if we could get a wee cottage, we could spin it.

"I said, 'Okay, but I've only got about 10 or 15 grand max', and so we were looking around Fermanagh and couldn't find anything.

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Actor Adrian Dunbar who plays Superintendent Ted Hastings is seen during Line of Duty filming off Beechmount Avenue in West Belfast. Photo by Peter Morrison

Actor Adrian Dunbar who plays Superintendent Ted Hastings is seen during Line of Duty filming off Beechmount Avenue in West Belfast. Photo by Peter Morrison

Actor Adrian Dunbar who plays Superintendent Ted Hastings is seen during Line of Duty filming off Beechmount Avenue in West Belfast. Photo by Peter Morrison

"We decided to have a look over the border because we spent a lot of our holidays in Bundoran - we were always down in the Bun or in Rossnowlagh and Mullaghmore - so we started looking down there.

"Anyway, they came back to me and said they'd found the perfect place in Sligo. They'd been to see it and everything and they wanted me to go and see it.

"I had a mate who had just been arrested and was in an open prison just outside Blacklion, so I went up to see the governor and said, 'You wouldn't let Derek out for the day?' He looked at me and said, 'Hear My Song?' I said, 'Yeah', and he said, 'Oh, he's alright. He was just caught with a wee bit of weed', so he let him out for the day.

"He (his friend) knew I was going to do that, so when we got in the car and I said about going to see this cottage, he said, 'No we're not. We're getting me a haircut and getting measured for a suit'.

"He was getting out for a wedding or something later on, so we had to get all that done first.

"Anyway, we got there and I stuck my head in. It was a three-bedroom Irish cottage with a terrible asbestos roof and so on.

"There was land with it and everything - 17 acres - but I didn't know anything about land.

"We got to the top of the land and, I swear to God, I could see all the way to Barnesmore, all the way over to Sliabh Liag, Classiebawn and Mullaghmore. At the back of me, I was looking straight down Glenade into Manorhamilton. It was unbelievable. I came down into Sligo, stuck £1,000 on it (the house) and then thought, 'That's it'."

Three months later, his wife and mother decided to see the house for themselves, only to find old photographs of family relatives.

"They went in and, of course, started rooting about. Under the bed she (his wife) found an old photograph and handed it to my mum. She said, 'That's a photograph of my brother Willie's wedding in 1936'," Adrian said.

"My wife pulled out more photos, all dead these people, and found a photo of my mum's brother Fred at the wedding.

"It was spooky. My mother said the Rosary immediately, of course, as you would."

The 62-year-old recalled the episode while chatting to Sinn Fein activist Joe Austin for his Scealta series of online interviews, part of the Feile an Phobail festival. The actor also told Mr Austin how he had received a helping hand from the RUC on his first visit to Belfast as a teenager during the Ulster Workers' Council strike of 1974.

"My first memory of Belfast was coming up during the loyalist strike in to go out to Jordanstown," he said.

"I got a lift with a guy who was driving a vegetable van up to the markets. Me and this other guy from Derrygonnelly were walking up the Donegall Road and I remember thinking, 'We are just in the wrong place today'.

"We got down to Bradbury Place and, where the Europa was (on Great Victoria Street), there was a line of guys across the road stopping anybody going to work.

"We had to get to York Street station and thought, 'How are we going to do that?' I saw a cop car coming down the road and I waved them down and told them where we needed to go. They told us to hop in the back, so we did that and the peelers took us down the road.

"The fellas kicked every panel of that police car and when we got to York Street they said, 'Get out, get out'. That was my first time coming to Belfast."

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