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Martin Compston (born 8 May 1984) is a Scottish actor and former professional footballer. He is known for his lead role as Anti-Corruption Unit Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott in the BBC crime drama Line of Duty. His other notable roles include Liam in Ken Loach's Sweet Sixteen, Paul Ferris in The Wee Man, and Ewan Brodie in Monarch of the Glen.[1]

Martin Compston
Born (1984-05-08) 8 May 1984 (age 35)
Greenock, Scotland
OccupationActor, former professional footballer
Years active2002–present
Spouse(s)Tianna Chanel Flynn (m. 2016)
Association football career
Playing position Sweeper
Youth career
Greenock Morton
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2001–2002 Greenock Morton 2 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Early life and football careerEdit

Compston, the younger of two boys, was brought up in Greenock, Scotland, and attended St Columba's High School in neighbouring Gourock.

A promising footballer, he was on the books of Aberdeen F.C. as a young teenager,[2] and after leaving school signed for the local professional team Greenock Morton F.C..[3] Compston made two first-team appearances in the 2001–02 season,[4] in which the team were relegated to the Third Division. In both matches he appeared as a substitute and Morton lost 4–0, to Alloa Athletic and Queen of the South.

Acting careerEdit

Having never acted before, Compston successfully auditioned for the lead role in Ken Loach's Sweet Sixteen, which was being filmed locally. The film's success at the Cannes Film Festival gave him instant celebrity status in Scotland. Both he and his co-star William Ruane were nominated for Most Promising Newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards, with Compston winning the category.[5]

He had a regular role in the BBC TV drama serial Monarch of the Glen. He then appeared in three films: A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (Jury Prize and Best Ensemble Cast at the Sundance Festival) with Robert Downey, Jr.; Red Road (Jury Prize at Cannes), shot in Scotland with Kate Dickie and Tony Curran, for which he was nominated as Best Supporting Actor at the Scottish BAFTAs; and True North with Peter Mullan and Gary Lewis, for which he was nominated as Best Actor at the British Independent Film Awards.

Compston starred in the 2010 film Soulboy, alongside Craig Parkinson, playing the role of Joe McCain.[1] He also appeared in the horror film The 4th Reich as Private Newman, and made a cameo appearance in a low-budget web series, "Night is Day".

Compston appeared in The View's music video for "Grace" and "How Long," as he is friends with the band.[6]

In 2012, Compston starred in the lead role of Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott, a detective on an anti-corruption squad, in the BBC police drama Line of Duty, acting alongside Craig Parkinson once more. In the same year, he also starred in the violent thriller Piggy.[7] Going back to his Scottish roots, he then appeared in the lead role in The Wee Man, directed by Ray Burdis, a film depicting the life of the Glasgow gangster Paul Ferris.[8] It was released in the UK in January 2013.

In April 2013, Compston starred in the ITV mini-series The Ice Cream Girls.[9] He appeared as Roy James in The Great Train Robbery.[10]

In 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019, Compston reprised his lead role of Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott in the four more series of police drama Line of Duty, which moved from BBC Two to BBC One at the start of its fourth series.[11][12]

In 2016,he starred in the three-part Scottish television drama series In Plain Sight as serial murderer, Peter Manuel who is pursued to his conviction and ultimate execution by the detective William Muncie.[13]

Personal lifeEdit

Compston married American actress Tianna Chanel Flynn in 2016.[14] They reside in her hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.[15]

Compston is a supporter of Celtic F.C. and Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. After a victory by Celtic over Aberdeen F.C. in January 2019, Compston posted a tweet: "Round ye No voting shitebags". The City of Aberdeen had voted "No" to independence.[16][17][16]


Year Film Role Notes
2002 Sweet Sixteen Liam
2003 Monarch of the Glen Ewan Brodie 20 episodes between 2003 and 2005
The Royal Jeffrey Carpenter One episode, "Snakes and Ladders"
2004 Niceland (Population. 1.000.002) Jed
Casualty Matty Howell One episode, "Lock Down"
2005 Tickets Jamesy
Wild Country Lee
2006 A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Mike O'Shea
Red Road Stevie
2007 True North Seán
Night is Day Head Gangster One episode, "Sacrifices"
2008 Doomsday Joshua
Red Mist Sean Also known as "Freakdog"
2009 The Damned United John O'Hare
The Disappearance of Alice Creed Danny
2010 Pimp Zeb
Soulboy Joe McCain
2011 7lives Rory
Hit and Run Daz
Ghosted Paul
Four Lover
How to Stop Being a Loser Adam
2012 Strippers vs Werewolves Shaniqua
When the Lights Went Out Mr Price
Sister Mike
Piggy Joe
2012-Present Line of Duty Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott 29 Episodes (after Series 5)
2013 The Wee Man Paul Ferris
Greenshaw's Folly Alfred Pollock
The Ice Cream Girls Mr Halnsley
Filth Gorman
The Great Train Robbery Roy James
2014 Silent Witness Jason Ross
2015 Scottish Mussel Richie
2016 Death in Paradise Dexter Allen Episode 5.6
In Plain Sight Peter Manuel Three episodes
2017 The Hunter's Prayer Metzger
Victoria Dr. Robert Traill Series 2, episode 6, "Faith, Hope & Charity"
2018 Mary Queen of Scots Earl of Bothwell Character is credited as 'Lord Bothwell'
2019 The Aftermath Burnham
2019 Still Game Phone shop assistant


  1. ^ a b Clarke, Cath (26 August 2010). "How Martin Compston Shimmied from Football to Films". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  2. ^ "How Line of Duty star Martin Compston went from Dons starlet to DS Arnott". Evening Express. 1 May 2017. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  3. ^ Pierce, Nev (26 September 2002). "Martin Compston: Sweet Sixteen". BBC. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  4. ^ "MARTIN COMPSTON". Neil Brown. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Profile and awards: Sweet Sixteen (2002)". BIFA. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  6. ^ English, Paul (23 March 2016). "Line of Duty Star Martin Compston: Glass Ceiling for Actors who Aren't Posh Enough is Holding Back Talent". Daily Record. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  7. ^ Millar, John (15 April 2012). "Martin Compston Opens Heart about Love Split and Death of Beloved Gran". Daily Record. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  8. ^ Black, Claire (13 January 2013). "Interview: Martin Compston Talks about His New Film The Wee Man". The Scotsman. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  9. ^ Rampton, James (15 April 2013). "Actor Martin Compston Makes Waves as Leading Man". The Scotsman. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  10. ^ Wednesday, Monkey (6 March 2013). "Martin Compston to Play Great Train Robber in BBC1 Drama". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  11. ^ Hadlow, Janice (25 July 2012). "Media Centre – Line of Duty to Return for Second Series". BBC. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  12. ^ Barker, Adam (4 September 2014). "Media Centre – Line of Duty to Return for Further Two Series". BBC.
  13. ^ Bley Griffiths, Eleanor (21 December 2016). "How Historically accurate is In Plain Sight? The True Story of Serial Killer Peter Manuel Played by Martin Compston". Radio Times. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  14. ^ "Line of I Do: Actor Martin Compston marries actress Tianna Chanel Flynn". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  15. ^ "Martin Compston on the Return of Line of Duty". This Morning. 19 March 2019. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Martin Compston brands Aberdeen 'No voting s****bags' after late Celtic win". The Scottish Sun. 26 December 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  17. ^ Ferguson, John. "British actor Martin Compston: I'm determined to keep the independence dream alive - Scotland Now". Retrieved 26 February 2019.

External linksEdit