Will Keeley Hawes appear in Line of Duty series three?

DI Denton was last seen serving a life sentence in prison – but will she be seen again when Line of Duty returns?

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Will Keeley Hawes return for Line of Duty series three? It was the question on everyone’s lips as the drama’s second run bowed out in 2014, with the revelation that Hawes’ DI Denton had been complicit in the witness protection scheme-gone-wrong at the start of the series.

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Crucially, as the body count piled up, Denton was left alive, serving a life sentence in prison and leaving the door open for the return of Bafta-nominated Hawes. 

But will she make a reappearance in series three? On the surface, the answer appears to be no. Line of Duty returns for a third run this week with Danny Mays front and centre, pursued by AC-12’s trusty coppers – and familiar faces – DC Kate Fleming (played by Vicky McClure) and DS Steve Arnett (Martin Compston). 

Mays plays Police Sergeant Daniel Waldron, but he’s no good cop. Head of an armed response unit being investigated by AC-12 for corruption, he’s known in the force as a loner with a history of acrimonious working relationships – but is there more to his actions than meets the eye?

Mays picks up where Denton and Lennie James – who played DCI Tony Gates in the BBC2 drama’s first run – left off. Three coppers, three standalone series, three separate stories. So, no room for Keeley Hawes, then? 

In the words of the actress herself, no. “There’s nothing for me in there,” she told us. “It’s done and dusted. I’ve done it.” 

She’ll hardly be sat around, twiddling her thumbs though. The phone has been ringing ever since her Line of Duty Bafta-nominated performance: she’s already starred in The Casual Vacancy and appeared in an episode of Doctor Who, and the actress has filmed roles in The Hollow Crown, new ITV drama The Durrells, and will lead series two of The Missing alongside David Morrissey.

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So is she telling the truth when she says she’s done with Line of Duty? Or is she channelling her duplicitous copper and pulling the wool over our eyes? All the evidence suggests her absence, but we’ve still got our fingers, toes – heck, everything – crossed that TV audiences haven’t seen the last of DI Denton.