Line of Duty star Martin Compston in first-look images of him in new BBC drama Mayflies

All you need to know about the upcoming drama, including cast and filming locations.

Martin Compston and Tony Curran in Mayflies, with promo shot of Ashley Jensen in split layout
(Image credit: BBC)

Line of Duty star Martin Compston returns to screens with first-look images of him in action in new BBC drama adaptation Mayflies. 

The BBC Scotland commission will be made by the BAFTA award winning Synchronicity Films (The Cry) for the BBC, adapted by Andrea Gibb (Elizabeth Is Missing) from Andrew O’Hagan’s acclaimed novel of the same name, and directed by Peter Mackie Burns (Rialto).

Mayflies is described as a "memorial to youth’s euphoria and to everyday tragedy. A tender goodbye to an old union, it discovers the joy and the costs of love."

We look at all you need to know about the upcoming adaptation...

What is Mayflies about?

Mayflies is described an "intimate and devastating portrait of male friendship". Everyone has a Tully Dawson (Tony Curran): the friend who defines your life. In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, Jimmy (Martin Compston) and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. 

With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. 

There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently. Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has the worst kind of news, and a request that will test their friendship, love, and loyalty to the limit…

Tracy Ifeachor as Iona, Ashley Jensen as Anna, Tony Curran as Tully and Martin Compston as Jimmy

(Image credit: BBC)

Who is in the cast of Mayflies?

Martin Compston (Line of Duty (opens in new tab), Vigil, Our House (opens in new tab)), Tony Curran (Your Honour, Outlaw King, Doctor Who) and Ashley Jensen (After Life, Extras) will lead the cast of Mayflies. Further names joining the cast include Tracy Ifeachor (Showtrial), as Iona, Tom Glynn-Carney (Dunkirk) as young Tully, Rian Gordon (Vigil) as young Jimmy, Elaine C Smith (Two Doors Down) as Barbara, Shauna Macdonald (The Descent) as Fiona, Cal MacAninch (Time) as Tibbs and Colin McCredie (River City) as Scott.

Martin Compston's has a child with his real-life wife Tianna after they announced their 2019 pregnancy (opens in new tab) so he will be juggling filming with dad duties.

Gaynor Holmes, BBC Drama Commissioning Editor, said, “Mayflies is an intimate and devastating portrait of male friendship that manages to be both life-affirming and heart-breaking, and we’re delighted to have assembled an outstanding lead cast and creative team to bring it from page to screen.” 

Matt Littleson as Limbo, Rian Gordon as young Jimmy, Tom Glynn-Carney as young Tully, Paul Gorman as Hogg and Mitchell Robinson as Tibbs in Mayflies

(Image credit: BBC)

Where is Mayflies filmed?

Set and filmed in Scotland, Mayflies is expected to be filmed in and around Glasgow and Ayrshire this autumn. 

Is Mayflies based on a true story?

Mayflies is based on the novel of the same name written by Andrew O'Hagan and the author has made no secret that Mayflies is autobiographical and that the character of Tully is based on an old friend named Keith Martin. 

Speaking about the TV adaptation, Andrew O’Hagan, novelist, said, “For a while now, I’ve admired the work of Synchronicity Films — Scottish in its bones and international in complexion — and it's a thrill to see them bringing Mayflies to BBC One. The story is a very personal one to me, and it’s amazing to see the characters come to life in Andrea Gibb’s wonderful adaptation. Director Peter Mackie Burns has a singular vision, and I look forward to seeing what he makes of the Ayrshire landscape and the emotional reality of this story.”

Meanwhile, Claire Mundell, executive producer, founder and creative director of Synchronicity Films, praised Andrew's work. She said, “Andrew’s novel is nostalgic, poignant and moving, following a life-long friendship and exploring the optimism of youth and the realities of later life. It honestly depicts the bonds and boundaries of a shared life and values. We are excited to be working with Andrew, Peter, Andrea and the BBC to collaborate on an authentic scripted adaptation of this acclaimed Scottish novel.”

Andrew O'Hagan

(Image credit: Getty)

Andrea Gibb, screenwriter and executive producer added, “Adapting Andrew O’Hagan’s magnificent novel has been one of the highlights of my career. Andrew tells his story of enduring male friendship with love, truth, tenderness and a searing humanity. There’s not an ounce of sentimentality. It’s very funny and deeply moving. The characters of Tully and Jimmy are instantly recognisable and totally unforgettable. Both are so alive and vibrant they leap off the page. It’s been a joy and a privilege living with them.”

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