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EXCLUSIVE 'The landscape has changed beyond recognition' - Adrian Dunbar on why TV has moved ahead of movies


Adrian Dunbar

Adrian Dunbar

Adrian Dunbar

Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar believes television actors are no longer looked down upon by their movie star counterparts.

The Enniskillen-born actor hit the jackpot when he landed the role as one of the lead protagonists in BBC1's gripping police drama Line of Duty, but no-one involved in a production that is shot in Belfast could have imagined the scale of the success that beckoned when they started filming in 2012.

Speaking to SundayWorld.com at an event to promote the Virgin Media Discovers Short Film Competition, the 62-year-old actor who has been at the top of the business for three decades reflected on the changes in the television business.

Movie stars used to look down on television actors as second rate performers in their industry, but all that has changed with the explosion of Netflix and a television streaming culture that has been a source of fascination for Dunbar.

“The perception that TV actors were somehow not on the same level as movie actors has gone in an era when drama and shorter form productions for television has gone to incredible heights,” continues Dunbar.

“People used to call it the medium of television and there was a reason for that. It was never very well done and it was well below movies on a number of levels.

“TV productions used to slow, there was a lack of time and attention given to scripts and for some of us back in the 1980s, working in TV became a little bit boring, yet roll the clock forward to 2019 and the landscape has changed beyond recognition.

“We find ourselves now at a moment when TV has become the place to go to watch well written, insightful, forward-thinking drama. It is a completely different ball game now, especially with this binge-watch and box set option available that has changed the way we all consume our programming.

“It's a whole new world, but the major thing that has happened in TV is the level of screenwriting and work that is done has script has done through the roof.

“When you look at the production values we see on the best television in Ireland, the UK and America, there is no doubt that TV is now right up there with film.

“The only difference is, of course, that film will always have the advantage of being a collective experience.

“Going to the cinema will never lose it's appeal because there is something so special about sitting in a room with a few hundred people who are all excited about seeing something new for the first time and getting carried away with the emotion of the moment, but TV is right up there with movies now.”


Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure and Martin Compston on the set of the sixth series of Line of Duty (Liam McBurney/PA)

Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure and Martin Compston on the set of the sixth series of Line of Duty (Liam McBurney/PA)

Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure and Martin Compston on the set of the sixth series of Line of Duty (Liam McBurney/PA)

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With Dunbar's legacy as one of Ireland's most prolific actors has long since been secure, his eagerness to unearth rising talent in the Irish film industry saw him jump at the chance to be part of the judging panel for the 2019 Virgin Media Discovers film competition that attracted over 600 entries from budding Irish filmmakers.

“I love working with and encouraging young filmmakers, especially in Ireland,” adds Dunbar, who lists roles in My Left Foot, The Crying Game and The General amid a glittering career.

“We have so much talent out there and we don't have many platforms like this for them to realise their dreams, so it is really, really welcome that Virgin Media have decided to do this because there are not enough outlets for this kind of work to happen.

“People who don't have a lot of experience can suddenly get a foot in the door with something like this, so it is a very important initiative and I would like to see a few more people of influence giving more Irish filmmakers similar opportunities.

“Things can happen for talented people on the back of a competition like this. They get the big break, it propels them to a stage they have not been on before and they can rapidly establish themselves in the industry.”

Virgin Media in association with Fís Éireann / Screen Ireland has unveiled a €150,000 prize fund for the Virgin Media Discovers short film competition - to promote and support new and established Irish film making talent and development, with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

Details of how to enter HERE

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