Stephen Graham’s murderous gang leader in the upcoming fifth series of BBC crime drama Line of Duty is the show’s most “dangerous” villain to date, according to the cast.
The 45-year-old actor, best known for his role as thuggish racist Combo in This Is England, will portray John Corbett – leader of the Balaclava Men – in the new run of episodes.
Graham has been called a “powerhouse” by his fellow cast members, who teased that “bullets will fly” in the set of six episodes.
The new series continues to follow the work of police anti-corruption unit AC-12, but sees their investigation move from the world of bent cops into the criminal gangs they assist.
Martin Compston, who plays Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott, told Digital Spy that Graham’s character marks a departure from the corrupt officers of previous series, who were usually “not out-and-out bad people”.
He said: “He’s just a criminal, he’s a murderer, he’s the leader of this gang… one of which threw me down a flight of stairs.
“So they are just scary people. In terms of dangerous situations, it’s definitely the scariest.”
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Compston’s co-star Vicky McClure, who appeared alongside Graham in This Is England and its TV sequels, said Graham’s arrival meant the whole cast had to “pull our socks up” to match him.
She said: “He’s a powerhouse, he’s something else, and you see that from the minute he steps on screen.”
Graham is joined in control of the Balaclava Men by criminal cohort Lisa McQueen, played by Rochenda Sandall, with whom he engages in a power struggle.
Compston said: “Rochenda and Stephen together… they are genuinely scary!
“Us three go straight back into our AC-12 groove, but the audience is thinking: ‘they’re really going to come up against it this time’.
“I think a few bullets will fly.”
Graham has recently been seen in Idris Elba’s directorial debut Yardie and will appear in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming Netflix crime movie The Irishman, alongside Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
Line of Duty has already been renewed for a sixth series, though creator Jed Mercurio has said the show may be nearing its end.
Viewers can see series 5 of Line of Duty on BBC One from Sunday, 31 March.