Ardent fans of BBC1’s Line of Duty will have their bottoms firmly glued to their sofas this Sunday at 9pm, as the finale of series 6 is broadcast. Speculation is rife amongst the show’s disciples as to whether this will be the last series ever made, and it’s creator Jed Mercurio refuses to be drawn on the subject. If that is the sad truth, will the identity of ‘H’ (the ultimate baddie) finally be revealed to us all?
Rarely these days is a programme watched live when aired, with an abundance of catch up and recording options on offer, but LOD fans all know that with this program it’s too dangerous to risk, as spoilers flood social media platforms the moment it ends.
The show first aired in 2012 on BBC2 and was followed by a second and third series as its audience quickly surpassed 4 million and it became one of the most successful dramas ever shown on the channel. This then resulted in it being relocated to its primetime BBC1 Sunday night slot at 9pm, where it has permanently resided ever since.
In a nutshell, the programme centres around SIO (senior investigating officer) Ted Hastings, and his two underlings Steve Arnott and Kate Fleming. Ted has become famous for his quirky quotes, softly spoken in his gentle Irish lilt: “mother of God…” “now we’re sucking diesel,” and his latest “Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the wee donkey…” and he often scathingly calls people “fella”. Steve is a three-piece suit wearing lothario, who suffered debilitating injuries in the call of duty and is now reliant on a multitude of heavy-duty painkillers to get him through the day. Kate is everyone’s best friend but has struggled with her own personal demons and has an on-off relationship with her husband and young son. As an undercover officer, she is often planted within a different police team in order to glean intelligence. These three are officially ‘the good guys’ and go to extreme lengths to uncover the true identities of the baddies to ensure they get banged up.
The three main characters are convincingly played by Adrian Dunbar, Martin Compston and Vicky McClure. But the show has also attracted an array of big names from the acting world, including Keeley Hawes, Thandie Newton, Lenny James, Kelly McDonald, Stephen Graham, Daniel Mays and Anna Maxwell Martin (currently quite possibly the most hated women on screen since Imelda Staunton’s Professor Umbrage in the Harry Potter films). This series has even tempted James Nesbitt to join the cast, despite only his face having been seen in a photo so far. I wonder how much he was paid for this infintesimal role? Or whether, perhaps, he will be revealed in Sunday’s finale as ‘H’ himself?
Regular LOD followers exchange theories about who the fourth super-villain ‘H’ is, after the three others of the quartet were uncovered in earlier episodes. One of the main talking points and ‘need to know’ elements keeping us all gripped, has been trying to decipher numerous acronyms, constantly bombarding us at quick-fired pace. Having turned us all into wannabe detectives, we have learnt the meaning of a plethora of police abbreviations. A few of the most relevant ones are:
AC12 – Anti Corruption Unit 12, the police department Superintendent Ted Hastings is head of. Its sole reason for existence is to investigate and uncover any corrupt or ‘bent coppers’ (Ted’s favourite phrase) working within the Police Force.
Used at every available opportunity is OCG – organised crime group, or gang of baddies who may be working with corrupt or bent policemen.
MIT – murder investigation team. Another department within the police force who seem to always be working in opposition with AC12. Basically, they don’t like each other and are constantly stepping on each other’s toes, getting in each other’s way and resorting to tit-for-tat one-up-manship.
CHIS – covert human intelligence source (or in layman’s terms, informant or grass). A recent addition in series 6 which brought much hilarity when fans attempted to guess its meaning before it was revealed online.
The list of acronyms is endless, but with the rapid dialogue and their frequent usage it’s crucial to know their meaning or basically you won’t have a clue what’s going on or what on earth everyone’s talking about.
We’ve seen several bent coppers come to a spectacular deadly demise at the hands of an OCG member, been carted off to jail, killed in a shoot-out at the end of a series finale, or left with the possibility that they are still lurking somewhere in the doldrums, ready to return to spread their evil once more. The show relies heavily on interviews with suspects or potential bent coppers, and the intensity, speed and complexity of the dialogue has us all on the edge of our seats, hardly daring to breath. The attention to detail in these interviews is immense and if you are distracted for a moment, you could easily be left feeling completely baffled. The acting in these scenes is, very often, quite brilliant.
One super-fan is Goggle-box’s Jenny who lives in a caravan with her gay best friend Lee. Last week’s C4 show revealed her with pen and notebook in hand, ready to jot down every detail she needed to know to keep up with the plot, and with Lee laughing his socks off sat by her side. It also left me thinking “What a good idea Jenny, why didn’t I think of that?”
Another fan of the show, Jayne from Devon, commented that “although this drama is classed as entertainment, following the tortuous plots is also an intellectual workout! The twists and turns and fast paced storylines keep everyone guessing and I often reach the end of an episode left thinking – did I understand any of that?”
It’s been reported that cast members were sworn to secrecy, preventing them from revealing the identity of ‘H’ throughout filming of the entire 6 series and it’s also been rumoured their scripts were water-marked so they could be traced back to an individual cast member if necessary. Viewing figures have increased over the last 9 years with an expected 13 million for Sunday’s finale, as LOD fever has now hit every corner of the country. There are numerous websites and podcasts dedicated to LOD obsessed fans, all speculating on the intricacies of the plotlines and characters, and every newspaper on today’s newsagent shelf has a LOD theory story, with nobody wanting to miss out on the action.
Line of Duty is truly British television at its finest. So really, it’s no surprise that we all devour each episode with ferocious gluttony, when it’s rivalled only by the constant stream of ‘reality tv’ drivel we are drip-fed on other channels.
Whatever revelations are disclosed in Sunday’s finale, we will all heave a collective sigh of relief after barely breathing for the previous hour’s compulsive viewing. But I’m sure our very next thought will be – when’s it coming back again?