Last year, the series six finale of Line of Duty was watched by a staggering 12.8 million viewers, making it the most watched episode of any drama (not counting soaps) since 2002).
It reunites Mercurio with Line of Duty star Vicky McClure and turns the spotlight on the work of the Metropolitan Police bomb disposal squad.
McClure plays Lana Washington and Adrian Lester is her colleague Joel Nutkins. Both are experienced bomb disposal operatives, known as ‘expos’, who are called out to a London housing estate to investigate a potential bomb factory. There is no sign of the bomb maker, Andy Phelan, but his keys are missing, leading to a race against time to find him and his vehicle.
While Washington and Nutkins successfully defuse an improvised explosive device, its complexity suggests they are dealing with sophisticated terrorists…
Tipping Point was written by Daniel Brierley, who began working with HTM Television – co-owned by Mercurio – after his involvement with a TV bursary scheme, and the series is a direct result of it.
Daniel says of Mercurio: “I got chatting to him at the Edinburgh TV Festival years ago and we stayed in touch, then I pitched him this idea. He’s wonderful, very funny and I get on very well with him. I think we have similar taste in stories, so that helps, and he’s a great mentor.
“He and the other execs gave me feedback on every draft and he understands the story in a very profound sense. We’ve got some cliffhangers in the series and that is very much a Jed thing!”
He adds: “I was also lucky enough to do some story sessions with (TV producer) John Yorke, who told me that if you can end the story with people wanting more then that’s exactly what you have to do.”
Daniel goes on: “I did genuinely write this with Vicky McClure in mind, so to have her and Adrian Lester as Lana and Joel, it’s astonishing.”
For McClure, collaborating with Mercurio again was a complete no-brainer. “I’ll take any opportunity to work with Jed, not only because he’s a friend, but also because he’s incredible at what he does, and I love the fact that he’s supporting new writers like Daniel,” she says.
“I didn’t need any convincing to say yes – I knew it was going to be a really fun, interesting and intriguing job. It’s dynamic, it’s action-packed, it’s full of brilliant characters and it will put you on the edge of your seat waiting for the next explosive situation.
“I’m really excited for people to see it.”
For Adrian Lester, working on the show increased his admiration for people who go out to work every day to make sure that people feel better and are safer, from expos to the police and paramedics.
“Never in a million years could I be an expo,” he admits. “It’s exciting, but you spend all your time waiting and when you get a call it’s very tense, you’re slowly checking wires and scanners. I’m not good at waiting, I’d go a bit crazy, but it’s a fantastic job they do. Because I’ve never seen their roles depicted on TV it was a fascinating experience to find out about them and play one.
“I have so much respect for what they do, I take my hat off to them. But not my helmet, cos that would be dangerous.”
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