The fifth series of Line of Duty might have come to an end with a long wait expected before a new series hits our screens, but Martin Compston’s keeping busy in the interim and is already working on a new project, another crime thriller called Traces, which he’s currently filming in Manchester.

The actor, who’s best known for playing DS Steve Arnott, created quite a buzz when he was spotted in the Northern Quarter recently. But while the photos that emerged from set went far and wide, the actor reportedly went “unnoticed” by shoppers despite starring in one of television’s biggest shows.

Although Compston was the one being papped on the city’s pavements, it’s three female characters who are central to the story, which is set in the world of forensic science.

Molly Windsor, who recently caused a stir opposite Katherine Kelly in ITV’s Cheat, plays Emma Hedges, a 23-year-old lab assistant who takes an online course and discovers a supposedly fictitious study has a strikingly similar link to her past.

Delving into some detective work, she unearths secrets and with the help of Prof. Sarah Gordon, played by The Missing’s Laura Fraser and Prof. Kathy Torrance, portrayed by You Me Her’s Jennifer Spence, and sets out to uncover the truth about an unsolved murder case.

Credit @stephenmurphy_dop Instagram

Based on an original idea by the crime writer Val McDermid, Traces has been penned by writer and actor Amelia Bullmore, who studied drama at Manchester University and attended the city’s Contact Theatre before making her television debut in Coronation Street back in 1990.

She’s lived in the city on and off over the years and when she created the all-female detective drama Scott and Bailey starring Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp, set the action here in Manchester.

While the story’s actually set in Dundee, Manchester’s been chosen as a filming location, which is no surprise given RED, the production company that’s behind the series, has made a point of using the chameleon-like city to film many of their projects over the last 20 years.

“I’m really excited to be bringing Amelia’s compelling and original scripts to life. From the brilliant mind of Val McDermid this is a mystery I want the audience to find totally addictive,” says Nichola Shindler, founder and executive producer of RED who’s set to receive the BAFTA Television Special Award during Sunday night’s prestigious ceremony.

The six-part series, which will be filmed across spring and summer, will be directed by Rebecca Gatward and Mary Nighy, known for Cold Feet and Grantchester, and Silent Witness respectively, and marks the first UKTV Original on Alibi.

“When the idea came over from RED it genuinely made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up,” says UKTV drama commissioner Philippa Collie Cousins.

“The fantastic writing talent in Amelia Bullmore coupled with Nicola Shindler and the team at RED will make Alibi’s first ever drama commission something really quite special. With strong female characters this is Happy Valley meets Silent Witness, a dark and exciting show that I can’t wait for us to get cracking on.”

Flying the flag for Manchester and female-led productions, it looks like this could be one to watch when it airs later in the year.

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