Taggart star cops it in Line of Duty as iconic TV detectives go head to head

Mark Cox as a senior uniformed officer, Alex Norton as Taggart's DI Burke, Jonathan Watson as Line of Duty's DS Steve Arnott, Joy McAvoy as Line of Duty's DI Kate Fleming. Picture: Comedy Unit/BBC
Mark Cox as a senior uniformed officer, Alex Norton as Taggart's DI Burke, Jonathan Watson as Line of Duty's DS Steve Arnott, Joy McAvoy as Line of Duty's DI Kate Fleming. Picture: Comedy Unit/BBC
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One could terrify a Rottweiler with just a glance while the other has a reputation for being a somewhat arrogant, ambitious, waistcoat-wearing “moral compass” of an individual.

Now Taggart’s hard-bitten Detective Chief Inspector Matt Burke, played by Alex Norton, and Line of Duty’s detective sergeant Steve Arnott, usually portrayed by Greenock-born Martin Compston, are to come face to face in BBC Scotland’s Hogmanay comedy show Only an Excuse?

The Line of Duty parody will see Glasgow-born Norton revive his STV crime drama Taggart role for the first time in nine years.

Without giving too much away, the programme’s producers say there will be a fair amount of tough questioning when Burke encounters “Arnott”, the star of the BBC’s Line of Duty, about detectives in an English city.

Describing how he felt about getting back into Taggart mode for the Line of Duty sketch, Norton said: “It was wonderful – I really enjoyed 
it.

“It was a bit strange at first when they got me the gear – the coat, the dark shirt – and I looked in the dressing room mirror to see that character emerge again after so long.

“I have to say there was a bit of a thrill. I played it straight again, but this time DCI Matt Burke finds himself in a different police series.”

The show, which targets not just the highs and lows of Scottish football but Scottish life too over the past 12 months, will be shown on Hogmanay at 11pm.

It will also lampoon well known names such as SNP MP Ian Blackford and Shelley Kerr, manager of Scotland’s women’s football team.

Only an Excuse? actor and comedian Jonathan Watson said: “Ian Blackford makes an appearance for the first time this year as he’s been quite prominent in Parliament with all the big political stories that have been happening.

“The election result no doubt means he’ll be in the news in the coming months too.

“I went back into the edit after the election because a few more lines were added to the script to bring the political story bang up to date.

Although the show will always have its roots in football, in the last few years we’ve been encouraged to add more political satire and spoofs from entertainment into the mix.”

Jurgen Klopp, the German manager of Liverpool FC, is one of the new characters this year. Watson said it was Klopp’s personality that had secured him a place in the show’s line-up.

“He’s a larger-than-life figure in the game. I really like him – he’s entertaining as well as being brilliant at this job.

“We’ve done our own take on him and his analysis includes a wee observation on what’s happening on the pitch with our national team. The hardest part about doing the Klopp impression was keeping the teeth in.”

Still Game star Mark Cox, who will appear on the show for the first time, said: “In one sketch I’m the ref with a big decision to make and I have a particular take on how VAR [video assistant referee] works.

“I hope it’ll be a valuable contribution to the debate about whether it should be brought in.”

Cox also revealed he will be touring “an audience with Still Gaun!” next autumn across Scotland.