BAFTA winner Vicky McClure stars in new BBC2 thriller Line of Duty, starting this week. Here, she talks about playing a cop and living the dream…

Tell us about DC Kate Fleming, your character in Line of Duty?
“Kate’s a decent copper, who knows she can do a lot better than CID. She’s ambitious and wants to rise to the top and eventually manages to push her way into TO-20, run by respected DCI Tony Gates (Lennie James).”

How does Kate fit into the largely all-male squad?
“As the squad’s only female officer, Kate’s got to up the ante if she wants to fit in with some very dominant males. But with some good ideas and witty banter, she certainly presents a challenge.”

What’s Kate’s opinion of DCI Gates?
“Gates is hailed as the best copper in the city, so she has a certain amount of respect for this guy. But she also knows he’s up to no good.

As Kate settles into the team, she quickly gains Gates’ trust. But is there more to her than meets the eye?
“Kate’s ruthless; she’ll do what she needs to do to get what she wants. I hope this drama is controversial – it’s what I like to be.”

You’re best known for your role as tormented Lol in This is England. Are you enjoying playing a copper?
“I’m actually really enjoying it – it’s definitely out of my comfort zone. Because Shane Meadows [director of This is England] allows a lot of improv, it’s been really weird sticking to a script; it’s been a great learning curve. Lol is obviously a massive part of my career, but I want to be able to stretch myself.”

Do you feel the weight of expectation after winning last year’s Best Actress BAFTA for This is England?
“Massive expectations! But I’m just going to do what comes naturally to me. And if it feels right in my gut then I’m gonna go with the job. I’ll only take jobs if I like the scripts and the people involved. I don’t ever want to ask: ‘Why did I take this?'”

Are you ambitious?
“I’m massively ambitious! But I don’t live in a dream world and I know that, if my TV work dried up tomorrow, I’d be all right. I had an office job for eight years and I’m from a family of grafters, we work hard, we earn our money, so I can’t say I’d just do nothing while I chased the dream. That just wouldn’t happen.”

Line of Duty starts on Thursday, June 28 at 9pm on BBC2.