Millions of viewers were glued to the finale of police thriller Line of Duty last night to find out what happens to DS Steve Arnott of AC-12.
Which is a far cry from the hundreds of people who used to watch what happened when Martin Compston played for Aberdeen FC.
Many people know the Scottish actor – who plays police anti-corruption officer Arnott in the hugely popular BBC series – was once a professional footballer, but few realise he pulled on a shirt for the Dons.
Martin was part of Aberdeen’s youth team in the Roy Aitken era in the 1990s, training and playing alongside the likes of Michael Hart, Darren Young and Derek Young.
Former Don Derek recalls the schoolboy who went on to be one of Scotland’s rising acting stars.
“I don’t really remember much of what Martin was like as a player, we were all very young. But I recall training with him and making the trips up to Aberdeen,” said Derek, who, like Martin, was in Glasgow at the time.
Derek said he was delighted Martin went on to find success as an actor.
He said: “He’s had an amazing career and I’m really pleased for him.”
Their paths have crossed twice since Martin switched from football to acting, once on a family holiday in Cyprus and once on a night out in Glasgow.
“We had a great laugh, he’s great company and still really loves his football,” said Derek.
“He’s a really nice guy and the fame he’s had through appearing on television and Hollywood movies hasn’t changed him at all.”
Derek, who played for Formartine United in the Highland League last year, says he gets stick from his family when Line Of Duty is on.
“My wife shouts ‘there’s your pal Martin on the telly’ when it starts,” he said.
But the 36-year-old, who now lives in Newtonhill, has a confession – he’s never actually watched the series.”My wife says we have the whole lot of Line Of Duty saved on the Sky box, so I might get my head around that some day.”
Martin first spoke about his time with the Dons when he was a budding actor in Monarch Of The Glen, winning fans as cheeky chef Ewan Brodie.
Back then he said: “I used to play with Aberdeen when I was about 14 or 15. Roy Aitken was the manager and I really enjoyed it.
“I used to come up and stay at a place in Great Western Road.
“They had a cracking youth system and brought through boys who were good mates of mine, like Derek Young, Darren Young and Michael Hart.”
After his stint with the Dons, Martin signed for Morton.
While playing for them a family friend suggested he audition for Ken Loach’s gritty film, Sweet Sixteen, set in Greenock.
He got the part and kicked off his glittering acting career, including his acclaimed role as DS Arnott.
Tomorrow night the fourth season of the gripping Line of Duty reaches its conclusion when the fate of Arnott and his colleagues in AC-12 is revealed as they close in on a serial killer and a bent copper, while fighting for the anti-corruption unit’s survival.
And Martin has hinted one of the main characters is going to die … maybe even Arnott himself, who has already been beaten and left in a wheelchair.
He said: “With Line of Duty, you never know,” he said, referring to the series’ previous twists and cliffhanger endings.
“It will be heartbreaking when it happens, but one of us is likely to go at some point. We will be bereft when it happens.”
Martin, who now spends much of his time in Los Angeles, said he loves playing Arnott.
He said: “I genuinely do. It’s a really tough part at times because he’s the moral compass of the story and a lot of information comes through him.”
For the role, Martin has to lose his own Scottish brogue for the London tones of the detective – and stays in the accent throughout filming.
“I try – I still speak Scottish to my wife and mum (they probably wouldn’t speak to me otherwise).”