A Mackem has found himself centre stage in one of the biggest television dramas of the decade.
Richard Riddell, from Ryhope, appears in BBC One’s Bodyguard as Tom Fenton, a detective colleague of Public Protection Officer David Budd, the lead role played by Richard Madden.
It is just the latest prime time appearance for the 34-year-old, who studied at Southmoor Academy, Sunderland College, the National Youth Theatre and RADA.
His character’s actions in the last instalment led to Budd’s suspension from duty as he tries to piece together who attacked Keeley Hawes’ Home Secretary, paving the way for this Sunday’s 75-minute series finale.
The whodunnit political thriller, penned by Line of Duty writer Jed Mercurio, has had an average audience of eight million viewers.
Richard, who has appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens a First Order officer, in E4’s Misfits and series three of Vera, auditioned for the part of troubled forces vet Andy Apsted before it was decided he was a good fit as the Met Police detective.
He said: “I got stopped in Tesco on Monday by a woman and she was genuinely quite annoyed with me and said ‘You’re the killer and you’re Vicky’s new boyfriend’ and it’s great that it’s got people’s imagination going like that.
“People think you are that character.
“It’s definitely to the credit of how good Jed is but I think the thing which is very evident is that he’s always a step ahead of the audience, because you just never know.
“You just don’t trust anything and you don’t know what to believe.
The build up around it was huge and of course Jed’s done Line of Duty, but in the age where you can binge watch 10 episodes on Netflix, it’s great that people are waiting a week to find out what happens.Richard Riddell
“It wasn’t that much of a surprise it’s been so big because Richard’s been in Game of Thrones and Cinderella.
“The build up around it was huge and of course Jed’s done Line of Duty, but in the age where you can binge watch 10 episodes on Netflix, it’s great that people are waiting a week to find out what happens.”
Bodyguard also stars Sunderland-born Gina McKee as Met Police Commander Anne Sampson, while Matt Stokoe, from Durham, appears as Luke Aitkens, the Range Rover driving organised crime boss.
Richard, who is married to journalist Laura, 37, and brother to Claire, 37, and son of John, 63, and Eileen, 61, will soon be seen in Morse prequel Endeavour and in Sky Atlantic’s Curfew, which also features Sean Bean and Miranda Richardson.