Ridley’s Adrian Dunbar talks about duty streak and male mental health

Ridley Spoilers ahead.

When you think of Adrian Dunbar, it’s hard not to imagine him in a police uniform, arms crossed, declaring that “Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the Little Donkey” is DCI Ted Hastings in the BBC drama. line of duty.

But in ITV Ridley Dunbar plays a completely different role – not only retired, but somewhat broken. Dealing with life and loss, Alex Ridley returns to his former world when his quaint town is disrupted by the seemingly unprovoked murder of a local farmer.

The tragic loss forces Ridley to confront the things that have been haunting him.

Talking to digital spyAdrian explains the importance of RidleyDepicting male mental health and salvation, and what DCI Hastings would really have thought of his new detective counterpart…

Adrian Dunbar, Terence Maynard, Ridley


Looking at the first episode, the series seems to focus a lot on family trauma and loss, especially with Ridley. Can you tell me more about it, and your thoughts on his process throughout the series?

Yes it is. He has lost his wife and daughter in a terrible house fire that he feels so guilty about, because he feels he could have done more to stop it. This is something that is an ongoing story through the series that resolves itself a little bit in the fourth episode. That’s why he goes to prison to see the person who was convicted of this very crime.

I think this is a very strange element of the piece.

He, of course, suffers when we see him. He lost. He is alone. He’s isolated, and it takes this very cold state to get to his doorstep to get him back into the world of work, but he’s still dealing with grief and trauma. I think what he’s doing is something a lot of people do, he’s just pushing everyone around him. But then, when he meets people who are feeling sad, he tends to open up about them.

“I think a lot of guys feel they should be able to handle things […] take a price”

He has a lot of empathy for other people who are in the same situation as him [there is] Also, you know, the musical component. Richard Hawley’s songs are so powerful, they mostly deal with male melancholy. Hence, this is another place where he can put his feelings into the music if you like. This is also a port. I think Paul Michael Thompson eventually wanted to write an essay on salvation. So I hope that as the series progresses, you’ll see progress in it sort of come back to itself.

Adrian Dunbar, Bronnagh Wu, Ridley


Do you hope that the aspect of male mental health, and the need to talk more, is something viewers take away from the series as a whole?

Yeah, I think a lot of guys feel like they just have to, you know, be able to handle things themselves and bury them somehow. But it will greatly negatively affect yourself. So you’ll see him break down a bit, especially when he’s on his own.

He finds it very difficult, and I think going back to work is the beginning of the healing process. But yeah, I think people should [take that away]. Isolation is a big problem, especially in rural areas. Many men in particular are isolated if they are alone. They are suffering greatly.

“Once you lose everything, you have nothing left to lose.”

I know this myself – I’m from a rural community, and I know there are people who deal with isolated people, especially isolated men on a constant basis. So yeah, I think that’s an element.

It wasn’t selected, it wasn’t fully looked at, people mentioned things or it might get off track, it might do this, it might do it. They’re kind of worried about him.

Adrian Dunbar, Bronnagh Wu, Ridley


Ridley is a perfectly straight man, even when those around him – the people he trusts – begin to bend the rules more than you probably should as a detective. Where do you think his personal streak?

I think he has no line. I think if he felt it was morally right to do something, even though the consequences might be hard on him or on strength or something, I think he probably would – because it’s like a burrow in wanting to get to the center of what’s going on and find bad person. So I think he’s willing to go very far in that regard. Even potentially putting himself at risk.

Once you lose everything, you have nothing left to lose. I think there is this feature in it. It’s kind of like, “Well, what do I care?”. There’s nothing left for him to lose in some ways, and that makes him more reckless than he might be.

Adrian Dunbar, Bronnagh Wu, Ridley


Ridley is surrounded by some truly amazing strong female characters, both past and present. Is there a particular relationship in which you enjoyed photography the most or around others?

I think it’s his relationship with Bronnagh [Waugh]Character for example, this is a difficult character because he was directing her, taking her with her, and now effectively his boss, but he can’t quite see that. He can’t fall in place in his head. She was always someone to tell him what to do, and she always followed his advice.

So, there is no friction between them because in the end, I think they both know that they just want to solve the issue. And she’s kind of smart enough to let him sort of do what he’s doing.

There are other people trying to impress him, like Terrence Maynard’s character, but I think we like the idea that there’s some kind of renegade element that’s going to go so far for us. So I think the relationship with her is great.

Apparently one of the characters you like the most is who line of duty. If DCI Hastings were to meet Ridley, how do you think they would arrive? What do you think they will be together?

Well, I think they probably get along well with each other. And I think they’re probably going along really well because maybe neither of them really open up to each other. They are very happy to talk about everything except what really bothers them. And to this extent, they will be friends.

Ridley Premieres tonight (Sunday, August 28) at 8pm on ITV.

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