Martin Compston on Twisty New Thriller ‘The Nest’ & ‘Line of Duty’ Season 6

The Nest - Martin Compston and Sophie Rundle
Graeme Hunter Pictures

What happens when a well-to-do Scottish couple desperate to have a child employ an 18-year-old with a troubled past to be their surrogate? In the five-part British drama The Nest, which premieres Monday, July 13 on streaming service Acorn TV, it would be an understatement to say that things don’t go smoothly.

Line of Duty’s Martin Compston plays Glasgow businessman Dan, whose wife Emily (Peaky Blinders’ Sophie Rundle) entrusts their last fertilized embryo to Kaya (Mirren Mack, Sex Education) to carry for nine months. They are part of an array of complex and often flawed characters in this twisty, provocative thriller from creator and writer Nicole Taylor (who also penned the acclaimed 2019 film Wild Rose).

Compston has been spending the months since Line of Duty halted production on its sixth season at home in Las Vegas, occasionally Zooming with castmates Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar. He talks to TV Insider about making The Nest in his native Scotland, missing his costars, and life during the pandemic. “It’s the most time I’ve been able to spend with my family in a long time,” says the husband and father.

What was your reaction when you read the script?

Martin Compston: I loved that it was a thriller without bombs or guns. Nicole Taylor is someone I’ve been a huge fan of for a while, and we spoke about working together for a long time. She said she was writing a script with myself in mind for a character. As actors we hear of that quite a lot, but very rarely does it actually happen.

© Graeme Hunter Pictures

What’s your take on Dan? He certainly does some questionable things.

Dan’s a sort of selfish man. It’s always fun playing someone with a bit of arrogance. He has a swagger, and I liked that he’s so ruthless in his business but at the same time he’s madly in love with his wife and he would do anything to keep her happy.

The Nest really takes you on a roller coaster ride. You’re rooting for Dan and Emily and at the same time you’re cringing at some of the things they do.

The wonderful thing about the scripts is the gray area. What they actually want is very noble — they want a child, they want to raise a family — but there are ways and means to go about that, and in their frustration, they cross a line. So at the end of the series you don’t know quite who you’re rooting for. Is it Dan and Emily or is it Kaya?

© Graeme Hunter Pictures

Mirren Mack, the young actress who plays Kaya, is quite a find.

She’s phenomenal. One of the joys of the job for me and Sophie was watching Mirren, how she went about her work. It reminded us of what we were like when we were younger, before you become old and cynical and worry about your days off and your call times! That enthusiasm just sort of rubs off on you.

Did you know much about surrogacy before you did this show, and did doing it change your thoughts at all?

I had a general knowledge of it. There are some horror stories on both sides — surrogates keeping the child or the intended parents pulling out — and I think one of the things that really got me was the fact that the intended parents don’t have any rights until the surrogate signs the baby over after birth. That would be terrifying! It can be an incredible thing, people carrying children for people who can’t have their own, but there was another side to it I never realized.

Is there going to be a Season 2 of The Nest?

I don’t think so. Too many really good shows and films are ruined with a bad sequel. I think sometimes people don’t have the bravery just to leave something alone. What I would say is, I would go off to work with that whole team again on some different project.

© Graeme Hunter Pictures

One role that you’ve had a chance to go back to is anti-corruption cop Steve Arnott on Line of Duty. You were filming Season 6 when the pandemic hit. How far along were you when you found out production was shutting down?

We were about a quarter of the way through, and it was just a really strange time. I’m based in Vegas, where my wife is from. We were filming in the U.K., and the U.S. started shutting down flights from Europe. I think I was told to leave on a Saturday night and as I was going to the airport on Sunday, the whole production shut down. It’s really strange because I’m very close friends with the guys and we’re in regular contact. Just a few weeks ago would have been the wrap party. That really hit home, how long the pandemic’s been going on. But we’re trying to get back to it as soon as possible. I’ve put on a bit of weight, so I’ll need to get myself camera ready again. I’ve been enjoying my wife’s cooking too much.

What have you been doing to keep busy the last few months? Aside from eating your wife’s cooking!

She’s been teaching me so I’m prepared. I think when I go back to film later in the year I’ll have to do two weeks of quarantine by myself, so I need to learn. I’m a terrible cook. I only cracked an egg for the first time a couple of years ago.

The Nest, Series Premiere, Monday, July 13, Acorn TV

Line of Duty, Seasons 1-5 Streaming Now, Acorn TV