BETWEEN his Sunday TV programme, his radio show Start the Week, and his painting (canvases, not skirting boards), Andrew Marr is one of the hardest working men in media showbiz.

A Stakhanovite he may be, but where he found the time to also rise up the police ranks to the position of senior officer is a mystery worthy of Sherlock.

Yet there he was, quizzing Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio and one of its stars, Vicky McClure, on The Andrew Marr Show. As every Line of Duty fan knows, those being interviewed have the right to be questioned by an officer at least one rank senior, so what did that make Marr? A chief inspector? A superintendent?

The viewer was not told, but we did, however, learn other information of interest, of which more later.

A week on from the Prime Minister’s address on the easing of lockdown restrictions in England, the main subject in the English Sunday papers, and therefore on the Sunday shows, was sending pupils back to school in a couple of weeks.

READ MORE: Iain Macwhirter and the crisis in care homes

Since the First Minister has all but ruled out anything similar happening soon in Scotland, much of the discussion struggled to seem relevant to viewers here. Then again, north, south, east or west, and whenever it happens, the basic question on school reopening is the same: Is it safe?

As is often the case when a steady hand on the tiller is required, the UK Government dispatched Michael Gove, Minister for the Cabinet Office, to Marr and Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday, this week hosted by Niall Paterson (Ridge was on holiday, location not specified: back garden, perhaps?).

Marr began by asking if the Minister could guarantee teachers [and pupils] would be safe. “Yes,” came the unequivocal answer. As time went on, however, the interview became more of a discussion about risk and whether it could ever be eliminated.

“The only way ever to ensure that you never catch coronavirus is to stay at home completely,” said Mr Gove.

“But there is always, always, always, in any loosening of these restrictions, a risk of people catching the coronavirus. You can never eliminate risk. It is the case that it is extremely unlikely that any school is likely to be the source of a Covid outbreak.”

On Ridge on Sunday, Mr Gove said the UK could learn from best practice elsewhere.

“Other countries have succeeded in ensuring children can return to school safely. The nature of what happens in the classroom has changed.

“Instead of children working around the table they are sitting at desks separate from each other and, as a result, they are able to learn, they are able to benefit from being in school.

“We recognise this requires careful working with teachers. But the leaders of some of the country’s very, very best schools have said they can that they can ensure that children and teachers and other workers are safe.”

Risk, that other “R” word besides reproduction number, was also under consideration when Marr interviewed Jed Mercurio and Vicky McClure about a new charity drive, Asks for Masks, which raises money to buy protective equipment for frontline NHS staff. Mercurio, who was a hospital doctor before he turned to drama, had been asked to help by former colleagues.

READ MORE: Forgotten victims of virus

McClure, with Scotland’s Martin Compston (DI Steve Arnott) and Adrian Dunbar (Superintendent Ted Hastings) had made a video to publicise Asks for Masks. In the clip shown, Hastings was on a video call with Arnott. The detective was by a pool, sunbathing. Yes, he was still wearing his trademark waistcoat.

“Where are you son?” said Hastings.

“I’m at AC-12 sir, working on a case,” said Arnott.

“Do you think I came up the Lagan in a bubble?” asked the chief.

“This is a virtual background sir.”

“All right then, but it better not be coming out of the AC-12 budget.”

The cast and crew had been filming the new series of Line of Duty for four weeks when the production, like every other shoot, had to be shut down. As a result, the screening of the sixth series, due in September, has been postponed. It could be next year before work begins again.

As Mercurio revealed, it was not inevitable that filming had to stop.

“The reasons we shut down were related to what was going on in wider society.

“We had a small outbreak earlier on in our shoot, and because at that time there was the public health infrastructure providing test, trace and isolate we were able to contain it and carry on.

“The problem was when that was abandoned by the government we then were looking at a situation where we couldn’t apply that.”

“There’s a lot we can do within the industry but until wider society has the public health infrastructure of test, trace and isolate in place it is going to be very hard for anyone.”

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.

News from trusted and credible sources is essential at all times, but especially now as the coronavirus pandemic impacts on all aspects of our lives. To make sure you stay informed during this difficult time our coverage of the crisis is free.
However, producing The Herald's unrivalled analysis, insight and opinion on a daily basis still costs money and, as our traditional revenue streams collapse, we need your support to sustain our quality journalism.
To help us get through this, we’re asking readers to take a digital subscription to The Herald. You can sign up now for just £2 for two months.
If you choose to sign up, we’ll offer a faster loading, advert-light experience – and deliver a digital version of the print product to your device every day. Click here to help The Herald: Thank you, and stay safe.