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Thandie Newton: Line of Duty star says there are 'few roles for women of colour' on British TV

By Vickie Scullard - Monday, 20th March 2017

Hollywood actress Thandie Newton has revealed she doesn’t work in Britain much because there are “few roles for women of colour”. The English star, who will be making a rare return to her homeland for TV cop drama Line of Duty, which is back this weekend, cited our love of period dramas as a big reason for her abscondence across the pond.

She said: “I don’t have the opportunity to work in Britain very much because there are a lot of period dramas and they often don’t have calls for women of colour so I went to Hollywood.”

The hit police corruption drama is back this Sunday for a fourth series, where the gang of anti-corruption coppers from AC-12 will be joined by Thandie Newton as DCI Roz Huntley.

She will be joined by Vicky McClure as DS Kate Fleming, Martin Compston as DS Steve Arnott, and Adrian Dunbar as Superintendent Ted Hastings.

Speaking of what drew her back to Britain for the series, she said: I didn’t know anything about the role but I said I wanted to do it. The first thing I saw was series three. My agent said to me: ‘Thandie, an offer has come in and if you ever want to work in British television, this is it.’

“So I watched it and was completely knocked out by it and Daniel Mays. I’m such a fan of him, as with Keeley Hawes and Lennie James, I’ve admired them for years. They had clearly been attracted to the material and after meeting Jed [Mercurio, creator], I was in.”

The fourth series begins with DCI Huntley capturing a serial killer, in the thick of a career-defining case, Operation Trapdoor. But forensic coordinator Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins) alerts AC-12 to a possible miscarriage of justice.

It’s not long before the team decides to probe Huntley’s handling of the investigation. But Roz, a mother-of-two and wife to Nick (Lee Ingleby), will do anything to stop her life unravelling.

Thandie says her character Roz offers women the opportunity to be represented in the workplace, as she is under pressure to prove herself after taking some time out to be a mum.

She said: “I feel really proud that the show gives women the opportunity to feel represented in that respect. Underpinning everything, there’s a need to be recognised as the multitasking ninja that she is and that every woman has to be.�

“There’s this patriarchal notion that what men do is worthy of respect and what women do isn’t and we see that in equality of pay and what women have to tolerate in the workplace, when it comes to unfair treatment. With a series like this which is so respected and loved, there’s no better place than in Line of Duty to put these issues.”

Despite being LA royalty, the 44-year-old admits to being a little star struck when she met the cast.

She said: “Vicky is a darling; I mean that in the proper sense. She’s an incredible team player, kind and light hearted and we laughed a lot.

'I’m glad we didn’t have too much stuff to do together because I don’t know if I could get a day’s work with her. We laughed to the point of peeing! Yet the camera rolls and she’s right there with it. I was just thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her.

“Martin has such a broad Glaswegian accent, in contrast to Steve’s accent, that when he’s speaking with his natural accent it’s like he’s putting it on. And Adrian’s a national treasure.”

Line of Duty returns to BBC One on Sunday, March 26 AT 9pm.

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