IT’S a Friday lunchtime and Martin Compston is on a fleeting visit to his hometown of Greenock having flown in from Belfast, fresh from the set of Line of Duty.

We had been due to speak 24 hours earlier but the collapse of Flybe put the kibosh on his travel plans, seeing the actor scramble to catch an alternative flight, determined not to miss the 30th anniversary ball at Ardgowan Hospice of which he is patron.

Later that evening, a bottle of hand sanitiser signed by Compston and Celtic player Greg Taylor, will sell for £520 at the charity auction. It is a more carefree time: BC (before coronavirus).

We talk about the effects of coronavirus on his industry – the new James Bond movie being among the first to push back its release date by seven months – yet, in that moment, the juggernaut of the virus is still largely a distant blot on the landscape.

Compston is sanguine. “It is a case of listening to the advice being given by medical experts,” he says. “We will take it as we’re told. If something happens to the job on health advice, then so be it. If not, then we just keep working and doing what we have to do.”

A little over a fortnight later, as you read this now, things have moved on dramatically. Production for the new series of Line of Duty was suspended last week. Compston, like many in his industry, find themselves in limbo for the foreseeable future.

In recent days, the 35-year-old actor has had to hotfoot it back to the Las Vegas home he shares with his wife Tianna Chanel Flynn before the US travel ban came into force and the Nevada city began a 30-day lockdown.

Although a silver lining, if you are social distancing or self-isolating – two phrases to have entered our lexicon in recent weeks – is that The Nest, a gripping five-part drama starring Compston, begins on BBC One this evening.

Written by Nicole Taylor, who penned the multi award-winning Wild Rose and Three Girls, the thriller centres on affluent couple Dan and Emily, played by Compston and Sophie Rundle, who are unable to have a child of their own. In a last desperate attempt, they turn to surrogacy.

When fate throws a troubled young woman into their path, it seems the perfect solution. Kaya – in a mesmerising performance by Mirren Mack – needs money for a fresh start. Dan and Emily want a baby. Yet, things quickly begin to unravel, and it is far from the seamless transaction they imagined.

How would Compston describe the series? “An emotional thriller,” he says. “It was refreshing to be involved in something which is an absolute page-turner without the need for a load of violence. There is an air of danger throughout, which is a credit to Nicole’s amazing writing.

“It is exciting and really fires along. When you think it is going to go one way, it goes the other. Nicole said to me a while ago she would be writing a part with me in mind. You hear that a lot and it never happens. The fact it actually happened … I was chuffed to bits.

“At one point the character is described as being ‘a right good guy who loves the Celtic’. That had me on board. Nicole mentioned Greenock a couple of times as well.”

It is powerful subject matter. How did Compston get himself in the headspace for the role? “I personally didn’t have much knowledge about surrogacy going into this,” he admits. “You see stories of things going wrong and it is more common than you would think.

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“Even though the child is for all intents and purposes, their egg and DNA, it is still not their child until the surrogate signs it over at birth. It is pretty terrifying to give over that amount of trust to someone. There have been some horror stories with people in court.

“With the characters, one of the great things is that you never quite know whose side you are on,” he continues. “Because, on the surface, you have this couple who have everything: they are madly in love with each other, live in this incredible house and have very successful careers.

“The one thing they want, but they can’t have, is a baby. At every turn, things have gone wrong and it is slowly destroying them. They have one last roll of the dice. It’s that question of how far would you go and what can money buy?”

Alongside Compston and Rundle, known for her roles in Peaky Blinders and Gentleman Jack, the cast includes Shirley Henderson, Kate Dickie, David Hayman, Katie Leung and James Harkness. Not to forget the aforementioned Mirren Mack, a talented upcoming actor from Stirling.

Mack, who recently appeared in Netflix comedy-drama Sex Education, is outstanding as Kaya in The Nest. “Aye, Mirren is a wee superstar,” says Compston. “For me, that role was always going to be pivotal. Because it really does make or break the show. It had to someone young with gravitas.

"Mirren naturally has that. She is great at her craft, has a confidence and a way of speaking, but can also be really f****** hard. She has an edge to her when she wants it.”

Authenticity is a theme that Compston, who began his acting career in the 2002 Ken Loach film, Sweet Sixteen, returns to throughout our conversation. “You tend to use your ‘phone voice’ when you are on the TV,” he asserts.

“But there can be an extension of that which goes too far when you have producers who come up from down south and say: ‘I didn’t quite get that …’ In your head you’re thinking: ‘Well, I’m not saying it for you, I’m saying it to the other character.’

“When I watch Peaky Blinders, my wife is American, and she has no clue what is being said half the time, but you get the sense of it and know what is going on. When you try to sanitise stuff like that, you really chip away at the heart of it.

“It was refreshing going into ADR [re-recording dialogue for clarity in post-production] and saying: ‘We’re not doing that again, that is clear enough.’ I feel the drama itself is raw and authentic and proper west coast of Scotland.”

Glasgow looks amazing in The Nest with a raft of landmarks – the Clyde Arc, Botanic Gardens, City Chambers – lighting up the screen. A stunning house, Cape Cove, on the shore of Loch Long, Argyll, was used to shoot scenes as Emily and Dan’s home.

“You can see there is a very concerted effort on Nicole’s part to show off Glasgow and the west,” says Compston. “There is a scene at the top of Greenock where I’m on a bench. It is the same bench that I have a scene on in Sweet Sixteen. That felt like I was coming full circle.”

Compston sports a Celtic top in The Nest, he says. In the recent BBC drama, Guilt, Jamie Sives’ character lounged about in a Hibs top which, according to the show’s creator Neil Forsyth, was Mickey Weir’s shirt from the 1991 Scottish League Cup final.

Is there a special significance to the jersey that Compston wears? “It is a replica of the Lisbon Lions top [from 1967],” he confirms. “It is nice to get it on there and remind the rest of the country we were the first to win the European Cup.”

When we speak – ahead of filming for Line of Duty being suspended – he is less than three weeks into what was scheduled to be a four-month shoot for series six alongside Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar and guest star Kelly Macdonald.

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“It is a job unlike any other,” he says. “I will never laugh as much on any other job as I do with Line of Duty just because of working with Adrian and Vicky and the crew in general. We have become so close and know each other inside out.”

Compston has spoken previously about how his estuary English twang as AC-12 officer DS Steve Arnott has, on occasion, slipped slightly, seeing his own Greenock accent creep in, when intense filming schedules took their toll.

Line of Duty’s famed knife-edge interrogation scenes can be gruelling to shoot. “Normally, how you would do a scene like that, is you would break it up, whereas we go from page one to the end – it is like a mini play. There are takes that are 30 minutes long.

“It is exhausting. People tend to forget that I’m trying to juggle an accent as well as the lines. When it gets to eight or nine hours in, trying to hold the accent down, that can be tough.”

How long does it take to settle back into character as the waistcoat-loving, anti-corruption officer? “We were straight into the heavy stuff on day one,” he says. “That can be disconcerting. Doing the voice, putting the waistcoat on, they definitely help.

“Doing that voice, I can hear him immediately. It takes time to get comfortable in the voice and when you are saying that amount of jargon, the first couple of weeks it is a worry trying to juggle all these things.”

Dunbar, who plays Superintendent Ted Hastings, says that when the cast are in Belfast, his flat is where they eat, McClure’s flat is where they learn lines and Compston’s flat is the party pad.” Is that a fair summary?

Compston laughs. “That’s mainly because I cannae cook, so I have to do something. It’s fair to say, I’m quite sociable, but those two are as well. Vicky runs and organises our lives, Aidey does the cooking. Although, saying that, Vicky cooked me dinner the other night.

“I get spoiled because my wife is such an incredible cook. She starts teaching me stuff and then I forget it by the time I get to Belfast.”

The Line of Duty stars have admitted that when the scripts arrive for a new series, there’s that heart in mouth moment wondering if their character might be killed off. As fans know well, the show’s creator Jed Mercurio isn’t a man who messes about.

“At this point, we have all got six series out of it and I don’t think any of us could have foreseen that,” says Compston. “The initial idea was three series. Then five. So, the fact it is six? There’s talk already of seven, but Jed takes it one at a time, that is the way he has always done it.

“He has been an incredible influence on my career. I owe my career to Ken Loach and Jed Mercurio. I know Jed wouldn’t kill me off for the sake of it or shock value. It would be because he thought it would be the best way to take the story forward.

“I trust him completely. If it happens, I wouldn’t complain. I would be gutted and miss the guys, but we have got nearly 10 years out of it.”

The new series of Line of Duty should arrive – hopefully – on our screens sometime next year and Compston promises it will be worth the wait.

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“I don’t want to sound like a band trying to punt their new album and saying this is the best ever but every year, I think: ‘Is this going to be the one that is just not quite as good?’ And then Jed ups it a level. I don’t know how he does it, his consistency is incredible.

“I’m buzzing about where the story is going this year. It is very reassuring to know: ‘As long as we don’t mess this up, we have another hit on our hands.’”

Compston has rarely been idle with other recent TV projects including the Dundee-based crime series, Traces, shown on Alibi last December, and Vigil, a six-part BBC drama starring Suranne Jones and Rose Leslie, being shot in and around Glasgow and Dumbarton (production has also been suspended due to coronavirus).

Vigil centres on a brooding conflict between the police, the Royal Navy, and intelligence services following the disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler and a death on-board a Trident nuclear submarine.

Do you ever stop working, Martin? “It has been a mad 18 months,” he says. “I have enjoyed all those jobs and the people I have worked with. But there is obviously that element as an actor where you have got to go while the going is good.

“There will be a time the phone is not ringing. I’m in a rich vein of form at the moment, if that’s the right way to put it, where things are going well, and people want to work with me.”

He admits that his busy schedule doesn’t leave much time outside work. “To be honest, by the time I get home, I just want to chill out. That’s a very rare thing, just hanging about the house and reading a book and spending time with my wife.”

The coronavirus pandemic has turned that on its head. Compston, like many of us, will be spending an inordinate amount cooling his heels. A while back he had a Tennent’s Lager tap installed at his Las Vegas property and that’s not the only home comfort he craves.

“My mum always sends me a crate of Irn Bru. We have had the place in Las Vegas for two years and I’ve spent four or five months there. I’m in Scotland far more than I’m in the States, so it is probably the other way about. I’m chicken wing daft. That’s something the Americans do really well.”

How does Compston view his evolution as an actor since debuting in Sweet Sixteen almost two decades ago? “It’s a funny question because I have learned my craft but, in some ways, I am trying to get back to that kid in Sweet Sixteen,” he muses.

“At the time, you were just fearless and played the truth of every single scene because you weren’t aware of camera angles or when the camera was on you. You played it for what it was whereas now you’re aware of everything, worrying how many scenes are left and if the daylight is starting to go.”

It’s almost time to wrap up, so I throw in one last Line of Duty question. Did the cast envisage how obsessed the nation would become with “H”, the shadowy, corrupt police officer with a hand in almost every diabolical conspiracy running through the show?

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“I genuinely don’t think we knew how crazy it would go,” he says. “There is definitely an element of we want to get to whoever this person is but, at the same time, as soon as we find them, we might be out of a job. So, let’s keep it going for another series.”

The Nest begins on BBC One, tonight, 9pm. All series of Line of Duty are available on BBC iPlayer