Line Of Duty star Daniel Mays says television is “awash” with privately educated actors and costume dramas.

He told the Radio Times writers such as Jed Mercurio are essential to balance the “Downton Abbey effect”.

BBC One’s adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s War And Peace and ITV’s version of Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne, written by Downton creator Julian Fellowes, are recent examples of upmarket drama.

Daniel Mays in BBC Two's Line Of Duty Daniel Mays in BBC Two’s Line Of Duty (Steffan Hill/BBC/World Productions)

“We’re awash with the Downton Abbey effect, which is all great and I actually loved War And Peace,” he said. “All those shows definitely have a place, but there are a lot of public school actors and writers about at the moment.”

The Essex-born star opened up about his admiration for Line Of Duty writer and producer Jed.

Daniel also hailed Tony Merchant, the man behind 2012 drama Public Enemies, in which he starred alongside former Brookside actress Anna Friel as a convicted murderer.

Daniel MaysDaniel Mays (Steffan Hill/BBC/World Productions)

“I think writers like Jed and Tony Marchant and the worlds that they’re depicting are vital for the BBC and for British drama,” he said.

In the third series of gritty cop drama Line Of Duty, Daniel joins the cast as Sergeant Danny Waldron, the leader of an armed response unit whose unpredictable behaviour becomes a threat to colleagues and suspects.

Returning favourites include Martin Compston as Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott, Vicky McClure as Detective Constable Kate Fleming and Adrian Dunbar as Superintendent Ted Hastings.

Vicky McClure, Daniel Mays and Martin CompstonVicky McClure, Daniel Mays and Martin Compston (Steffan Hill/BBC/World Productions)

Keeley Hawes’s acclaimed performance as Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton made the 2014 series of Line Of Duty one of BBC Two’s most watched shows that year.

Lennie James’s turn as troubled Detective Chief Inspector Tony Gates in 2012 saw the crime thriller emerge as one of BBC Two’s best performing dramas in 10 years.

But Daniel is undaunted by pressure to live up to what has gone before. Instead, he promised fans “a different show”.

“This one is so much more high-octane, action-packed and edge-of-the-seat than the others. It’s a different show,” he said.

TV heavyweight Jed, he said, delivered “a thrilling and emotionally raw script”.

Lauded for his portrayal of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, Daniel starred alongside Sheridan Smith in ITV’s 2012 drama Mrs Biggs.

The 37-year-old son of an electrician attended the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts before winning a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada).

“Rada gives huge grants and funding to people from working class backgrounds to be able to enrol, which is the only reason I could go,” he said.

Roles in Red Riding, Ashes To Ashes and Made In Dagenham, to name a few, led to his star turn as Biggs. His most recent project was the big-screen version of BBC sitcom Dad’s Army, playing Private Walker.

Daniel will soon be seen in The Limehouse Golem, an adaptation of Peter Ackroyd’s 1994 murder mystery novel, alongside Bill Nighy and Douglas Booth.



Line Of Duty starts on Thursday March 24 on BBC Two.