Martin Compston interview: Line of Duty actor explores Edinburgh in BBC travel show

Martin Compston’s Scottish Fling sees the titular star visit Edinburgh tonight (October 6) in the penultimate episode of his BBC travel series – and he says doing the show has been “one of the most fun times I’ve ever had on a job in my life”.

Throughout the series, Line of Duty actor Compston has been joined by TV presenter and good pal Phil MacHugh, as he delivers a stunning and fun-filled tour of his beloved homeland.

This unforgettable road trip showcases what makes Scotland tick today, as the pair visit some spectacular and surprising places and – in Compston’s words – “drop in on a brilliant bunch of Scots… and get properly stuck in about it.”

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In the second-to-last episode – set to drop on BBC Scotland on October 6 – the pair visit Scotland’s capital city, where they meet a host of famous faces including Gary Tank Commander actor Greg McHugh and Scottish football stars John McGinn and Craig Gordon.

Martin Compston (left) and Phil MacHugh (right).

They then head along the M8 to Glasgow to catch up with Scots singer Amy Macdonald, among others.

Asked how much he enjoyed making the series, Greenock-born actor Compston says: “I got to go all these fantastic places in Scotland that I’d never been to before, though I felt slightly ashamed that it took me so long to go.

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“To get to do that with your pal and meet all these incredible people, it is one of the most fun times I’ve ever had on a job in my life.

“I was quite nervous about it because I’m not a presenter, Phil is but I think that is why we kind of bounce off each other really well.

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Martin Compston, along with co-host and friend Phil MacHugh, delivers a stunning and fun-filled tour of his beloved homeland. Photo: BBC Scotland

“That is something I learned making the series, that when you are interviewing people it is always nice to have someone there beside you, because you can actually really listen… we can really engage with people and we come at it from very different points of view.

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“We've got different strengths, but I think that makes for good telly.”

Compston explains that he’s known Phil for ages, and describes his pal as a “force of nature”.

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“We’ve been pals now for like 20 years. The Scottish creative industries is quite a small world, the awards dos – you get to meet the same people – and we just gravitated to each other… young, eager and ambitious but always game for a laugh, always the last two at the bar at the end of the night.

“But at the same time we were talking let’s do this, why not try this. These conversations have just kept going. We just naturally became close pals over the last 20 years.

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“One of the most exciting things for me is that I can’t wait for audiences to meet Phil – he's a force of nature. Phil is so positive about everything, he sees the good in everything. It was great making the series with him, with his energy and his positivity.”

Asked what it was like working together on the series, and Comspton says “it was a great laugh”.

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The 38-year-old adds: “And we stayed in some interesting places. There was place in the Western Isles, South Uist, where we got dropped off – they had opened up specially for us out of season – and all that was at reception was a Great Dane.

“There was a dog on reception and every time I hit the bell to ring it, the dog would bark at me.

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“But really people were so welcoming to us, everywhere we went.

“Me and Phil had had an idea for a documentary, but through [TV company] Tern it became something way bigger.

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“What was amazing to us and so interesting was the contributors. There were always ones where you’d think, I don’t know how this is going to go, and that was always the one that surprised you whether it would be Phil running about with a sheep’s head mask on Harris or whatever, there were just these real surreal moments.

“We stayed at these little hobbit houses in South Uist near Lochboisdale, where there were seals outside and it snowed in April. We filmed round the campfire and Phil and me stayed there overnight.

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“We sat round the campfire having a drink, just the stars and all that, it was lovely.”

As for picking his highlight of the series, Compston says he’d struggle to pick just one.

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“Every day of filming we would go that was the best, then that was the best and then another day, we’d go that was the best.

“We met some incredible people - everyone was really welcoming, everywhere we went.

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“I have a home in Vegas but I also still have a home in Scotland, but one of the joys is that I got to a lot of places I hadn’t been to before.

“I had never been to the Western Isles and the Hebrides were so spectacular and the dark skies in Galloway were also spectacular.

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“I just hope viewers enjoy the series. Not going too deep, but there’s been bleak times and I just hope we give people a wee half hour of escapism and put a smile on their faces.”

Martin Compston's Scottish Fling airs on Thursday, October 6 at 10pm on BBC Scotland. This episode will also be screened on BBC Two on Friday, October 7 at 9.30pm.

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