How to emulate the success of Line of Duty if you are a rival broadcaster in search of a hit? Use all the same ingredients.
ITV’s latest thriller, Trigger Point, is a police drama starring Line of Duty’s Vicky McClure as a straight-talking officer and boasts Jed Mercurio, the hit show’s writer, as executive producer.
Mercurio has sprinkled some of his trademark cliffhangers into the script, and is hoping to attract the same audience that flocked to his BBC drama in their millions.
“I just hope that fans of Line of Duty give Trigger Point the opportunity to see if it’s their kind of thing,” he said.
The Line of Duty finale on BBC One last May was watched by 15.7 million people, making it the most-watched drama series this century.
The main point of difference between the two shows, Mercurio explained, was that Trigger Point has more explosions.
Line of Duty vs Trigger Point
It is set within the Metropolitan Police Bomb Disposal Squad, with McClure playing team member and Army veteran Lana Washington.
Acknowledging that viewers would compare Trigger Point to Line of Duty, Mercurio said: “We went into the series with our eyes open, because both me and Vicky are involved and we take that on board.
‘Plenty of distinctions’
“It’s obviously clear that I haven’t written it, and Vicky is playing Lana Washington, an explosives officer, not DI Kate Fleming. It’s much more of an explosives drama than a police series, so I think there are plenty of distinctions.”
The show’s writer is Daniel Brierley, making his television debut. Mercurio mentored him as part of a bursary-funded new writers scheme, and Trigger Point was the direct result.
Brierley came up with the idea after watching a documentary about bomb disposal operatives in Northern Ireland.
He submitted his drafts to Mercurio, who gave feedback and suggested ways of keeping viewers hooked. “We’ve got some cliffhangers in the series and that is very much a Jed thing,” he said.
Daniel Breirley, Trigger Point's writer, secured Vicky McClure as the show's star with the help of his mentor
Credit: MATT FROST, JONATHAN FORD AND ROSS FERGUSON
Brierley also secured McClure as the star with his mentor’s help. Mercurio said: “We needed someone who was just totally authentic, someone you would completely believe in everything that the character does and her name came up in the very first conversation about casting.
“Everybody said, ‘Vicky McClure would be great,’ and then they all just looked at me. So I just asked her and she said she’d love to read the script… Obviously, she’s at the top of every casting wish list in British TV, so the fact that she said yes is a real coup for the series.”
Making a woman the star of a show about bomb disposal operatives entailed some artistic licence.
McClure said the Met had no female operatives in its bomb squad, and Mercurio added: “In terms of the gender balance within the world of explosives officers, it is absolutely a very male-dominated environment. But we all know professions should be more gender balanced and there should be a much more level playing field for entry to these roles.
“So it feels like a good statement to have a female lead… I think it’s really important in terms of representation. If we showed the world as male-dominated it might be sending the wrong message to people who might be considering that career.”
McClure stars alongside Adrian Lester as Joel Nutkins in the new ITV drama
Mercurio, who was also the executive producer of Bloodlands for BBC One and Stephen for ITV last year, said he hoped that Trigger Point would become a returning series.
McClure insisted that the show is “very different” to Line of Duty. “It’s incomparable. There’s a lot more action in Trigger Point. And I don’t really feel anything like Kate when I’m in Trigger Point, we certainly don’t look the same.
“I’m always really up for reinventing a look and I wear absolutely no make-up in this.”