THE issues in Sweet Sixteen are present now "more than ever”, according to the film’s star Martin Compston.

The Line of Duty actor spoke to The National while attending the Glasgow Film Festival’s 20th-anniversary screening of Ken Loach’s acclaimed film.

The 2002 drama follows the story of Liam, a teenage boy hoping to start afresh and buy a caravan for his mother as soon as she leaves prison.

But his attempts to raise the cash see him led down a path of crime.

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The film tackles themes of poverty, drug addiction and crime in post-industrial communities.

Compston, who made his acting debut in Sweet Sixteen after being suggested by his teacher, said the issues in the movie are as relevant now as ever. He added that the story of Liam was “true” – and suggested it still is.

Asked if the issues in Sweet Sixteen are still present, Compston told The National: “Yeah, of course they are. It really did shine a light on that, probably more than ever, with the effects of Covid.

The National:

Martin Compston, middle, was joined by Paul Laverty, Annmarie Fulton, left, and Rebecca O'Brien in Glasgow

“I mean, it's a really funny thing, I had a thing with my mates on our football WhatsApp and all we ever talk about on it is Celtic and Scotland and all of a sudden people talk about energy bills.

“So I think we are living through a period of that right now."

But Compston said things had changed and he pointed to his home town, where the film was set.

"But there are other sides to it as well," he said. "I think especially Greenock has really moved on.

“Every time I go back to the place it gets more beautiful. Maybe I’m getting old and nostalgic. I think the film does show that side to it.”

Scottish Government figures show that around one in five adults (19%) in Scotland live in relative poverty after housing costs. For the period between 2000-03, the percentage was 23%. 

However, the figures for working-age adults have remained largely the same, with rates for children rising.

Compston also said that the world is changing for young, working-class actors, with technology opening new doors.

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He said: “I think ... getting on camera is so much more accessible now. I mean, you can make a film on your iPhone, you know, the world is changing.

"So it's definitely opening up to people to have the opportunity to be more creative within their own communities.”

He then pointed to the “amazing” efforts by Scottish actors from working-class backgrounds such as James McAvoy who have provided scholarships for disadvantaged youngsters in Scotland.

He added: “I think things are changing. I didn't go to drama school. And I think drama schools are wonderful things where you can go and be with your peers and like-minded people, but you don't need to go to one now - there are different ways to go about making a career.

"So I definitely think it's getting a bit more accessible.”