New Line Of Duty hunk Perry Fitzpatrick hints at on-screen fling with Vicky McClure in season six

HE IS the husky-toned hunk who is set to give Martin Compston a run for his money as the sexiest policeman in Line Of Duty.

Perry Fitzpatrick will no doubt gain an army of admirers when he makes his debut on the BBC1 cop drama tomorrow — but he already has a huge fan in its leading lady, Vicky McClure.

The actors, both 37, are incredibly close as a result of growing up just a few miles apart and appearing in a string of dramas together.

Perry insists there has never been any romance between them off-screen, though he refuses to rule out the prospect of their characters getting it together in this sixth series of the hugely popular cop show.

He said: “I couldn’t possibly say, you’ll have to tune in and find out. But you never know where it’s going to go.

“We’re not entirely sure where our characters are going to end up and what we’re going to do ourselves. We get drip-fed the scripts, we don’t get given the entire story all at one go.

“But me and Vicki, we’ve been best mates for 20-odd years and, no, we’ve never gone out with each other.

‘ATTENTION COMES PART AND PARCEL WITH THIS JOB’

“We’re so close, we’re more like brother and sister and our families know each other, so I think it would be weird if we did.

“We know each other so well, we’ve been friends since we were 11 and we trust each other so much. And her partner, Jonny Owen is great, we’re good friends too.”

The long-awaited new season sees Perry play DS Chris Lomax opposite Vicky as DI Kate Fleming, an acting partnership which began when they both attended The Television Workshop in their home city of Nottingham.

She recently shared a picture of the pair as teenagers peforming in a production of Equus, the saucy play that Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe stripped off for when it opened on the West End in 2007.

Fortunately Vicky and Perry were allowed to keep their clothes on.

After landing the part in Line Of Duty, Perry embarked on a fitness regime to ensure he would look good if any nude scenes cropped up.

Filming began in February 2020 but had to stop the following month due to the pandemic.

Perry said: “You’ll have to wait and see if Chris Lomax strips off or not. We don’t always know ourselves on Line Of Duty, not straight away.

“Usually, with other shows, you can find that out beforehand so you’ve got some time to prep and get your body in shape. And it does help to be fit.

“Luckily that’s been quite a big focus throughout all the lockdowns anyway. I’ve got a High Intensity Training app that I do, and no-equipment exercises.

“I watch my diet too, but my guilty pleasure is bread. I love it, I dream about it, but I try to avoid it.”

Modest Perry says he has not given much thought to the female attention he is likely to receive when he makes his debut tomorrow.

But the actor, who lives in London, won’t have to worry about making a partner jealous.

He said: “I’m single, so it’s not a problem that I’ve got at the moment.”

Whatever the audience’s response, Perry insists he won’t be treading on the toes of leading man Martin, 36, who plays DS Steve Arnott.

He’s become the hero of the show as the right-hand man to Supt Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) in AC-12, the anti-corruption unit tasked with finding “bent coppers”.

While Perry was in tip-top shape for the role, co-star Martin admitted he had overindulged in the first lockdown and returned to the set of Line Of Duty in September carrying a few extra pounds and unable to fit into his iconic suits.

Perry said: “I don’t think it should be a problem. Martin’s always looking pretty sharp. He’s still got those three-piece suits and he looks great. I suppose I’ll just take any attention as it comes.

“It’s a weird one, isn’t it? But it comes part and parcel with this job, I try not to think about it too much. But it is exciting.”

You’ll have to wait and see if Chris Lomax strips off or not.

Perry believes it was his role in 2019’s I Am Nicola, alongside Vicky, that caught the attention of Line Of Duty writer Jed Mercurio.

Channel 4’s TV drama about a husband and wife in a dysfunctional relationship was improvised and required the pair to perform intimate scenes.

Vicky and Perry had practised improvisation together many times at The Television Workshop.

He said: “Vicky felt like she needed an actor she could trust for [I Am Nicola], and I think I was her first suggestion precisely because so much trust was needed.

‘THE CAST ARE LIKE A LITTLE FAMILY’

“We were so close on that. And that drama got the attention of Jed, so that was kind of my first, unofficial audition for it.

"That got me on to his radar. But he made me audition for the part like everyone else.”

While Perry has been instructed to keep the details of his character and what is to come in series six a closely guarded secret, he can provide a brief outline.

He said: “You meet Lomax as part of a police team, which is led by DCI Joanne Davidson, played by Trainspotting’s Kelly Macdonald.

9 lingering questions from the last series

BY the end of series five, AC-12 boss Supt Ted Hastings was almost jailed for being baddie H, but the real villain of the piece turned out to be Central Police lawyer Gill Biggeloe (Polly Walker).

Meanwhile the man AC-12 thought was the “bent copper” – undercover detective John Corbett (Stephen Graham) – had his cover blown and his throat cut.

He’d been trying to frame Hastings after Gill told him he’d been responsible for the death of his mother, Anne Marie McGillis, when they were both in Northern Ireland during The Troubles.

But there were still nine key questions posed by the last season, which we need answering this time round…

  1. If Hastings had an affair with the late Corbett’s mother, could he have been his son?
  2. H was revealed to be a quartet of bent coppers, not a single figure, but just one figure is left uncovered – could it be Hastings after all?
  3. Why was Hastings seen destroying his laptop and why did he visit one of the criminals, Lee Banks, in prison alone and without a recording?
  4. With Kate’s marriage on the rocks and Steve suffering from pain and impotence after being attacked, will AC-12’s private lives spill into work lives?
  5. Junior gang member Ryan Pilkington was seen joining the police at the end of season five, so when and how will he next rear his head?
  6. Is Corbett’s “number two” in the gang, Lisa McQueen (Rochenda Sandall) really in witness protection with Gill Biggelow – or will they also pop back up in series six?
  7. Will Hastings being sidelined by DCC Wise push him closer to corruption?
  8. Will the Organised Crime Group (OCG) which had its leadership wiped out reform and reappear?
  9. Who ordered that Gill Biggeloe be killed rather than rescued, and why?

“We’re investigating new information that’s come to light regarding an unsolved, high-profile murder case. And that investigation, for one reason or another, attracts the attention of AC-12.”

But a bigger challenge than not blabbing about the show, has been learning the lengthy scripts that are jam-packed with police jargon.

Perry said: “Jed writes scripts that are incredibly detailed. And luckily we have Google so we can search for the odd acronym, like an AFO (authorised firearms officer) or an OCG (organised crime group).

"But it’s a real skill to learn addresses and surnames and number plates, it is difficult. There were quite a few different things to learn.

“I’m not sure if Jed’s put it in there to trip us up but there were a few sentences and paragraphs that were just acronyms and addresses.

“It was a real skill, by the end of it we were fine. We were speaking acronym.”

Joining a well-established cast, many of which have been working together since Line Of Duty’s first series in 2012, could throw up a few issues but Perry has had no problems fitting in.

He said: “There is a great atmosphere. They’re like a little family. Martin, Adrian and Vicky are really close, and that’s infectious and you feel very welcome. They do muck about and play jokes.

"Vicky has discovered TikTok so you’re never safe from her when she has her mobile phone.

"You never know when she’s going to spring out on you and ask you to do a dance.

“It was strange, because we started filming in February with what felt like a normal shoot but then, with the Covid madness, we didn’t go back until September and there were a lot more restrictions, like social distancing and masks.

“It was trickier and it wasn’t as free as it normally would be. But we still managed to have fun and make a great show in safety.”

Perry’s previous stand-out roles include Flip, the hilarious moped gang leader in Shane Meadow’s Channel 4 drama, This Is England, also starring as Vicky Frances Lorraine “Lol” Jenkins.

And Chris Webster, the love interest of gay butler Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier) in the 2019 Downton Abbey movie.

But Line Of Duty will bring Perry a level of fame and scrutiny he has never experienced before, so naturally he is feeling the trepidation.

He said: “I remember Vicky gave me a call and said, ‘I hope you know what you’ve let yourself in for’. So I have had a few moments of terror.

“Line Of Duty is one of the biggest shows we have, it has such a huge fan base. But it’s what I’ve been aiming for for the past 20 years, so its a bit of a dream come true really.”

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