Line of Duty creator says series won’t be ‘dumbed down’ when it moves to BBC1

Writer Jed Mercurio reassures fans that the drama will still be as complex and brainy after its move from BBC2 to the main channel later this month

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Line of Duty, Jed Mercurio’s hit police corruption drama is back for series four later this month as the team from AC-12 tackle a new case.

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This fourth instalment follows the dramatic conclusion to the last series featuring DS Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) as the AC-12 officers investigating police malpractice.

With the help of Keeley Hawes’ Lindsay Denton they lifted the lid on Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan (Craig Parkinson) and his nefarious operations that struck deep into the heart of the police force.

It’s always been a complex and brainy series, which has sometimes left viewers scratching their heads and swapping theories. Mercurio even once wrote a blog at the end of series two to help clear up an element of confusion held by some viewers after a particularly complex denouement.

But now it has moved from BBC2 to BBC1 – where it is expected to air in a new Sunday night slot – the question on everybody’s lips is: will it change?

Writer Jed Mercurio assures RadioTimes.com that it will still be the same drama despite the channel move.

“The BBC weren’t saying they want to change the series to make it work on BBC1; there was a strong feeling it stood every chance as it is currently conceived of working on BBC1,” he said. “Whether it’s on BBC1 or BBC2… I wouldn’t have written it differently”.

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Mercurio added that he knew Line of Duty was to become a BBC1 show when he was writing the drama.

Asked if it would “dumb down” he said (perhaps not surprisingly) “no”, adding: “[BBC director of content] Charlotte [Moore] really wanted to build on the success that it had had. Also, it’s probably reached the point where it’s clear that it does have a broader appeal than maybe people thought when it was first commissioned.

“Each series is different in terms of having a new guest character and a brand new case. It never starts by picking up where the previous one left off. That is our story model anyway. But the style of the series and the basic precinct is exactly the same.

“The only thing that is different is that Dot is no longer part of the team because of what happened in series three. The Dot story came to a conclusion so there was a feeling that the new audience watching it on BBC1 wouldn’t feel they were being left behind because of Dot’s back story.”

The writer added that there wasn’t a need for more expository dialogue in the new series to help viewers unfamiliar with the drama.

“The performance of the show has shown that it can grow, and there’s a feeling that there’s more potential viewership on BBC1,” he said. “A big chunk of the population watch things on BBC1 or ITV1, and they maybe have the view that if something’s on BBC2 or Channel 4 then it’s not for them.”

In the new series Thandie Newton plays the “antagonist” Roz Huntley, a determined copper who is under scrutiny from AC-12 for allegedly tampering with evidence to nail a man with learning difficulties who is suspected of abducting women.

Forensic coordinator Tim Ifield, played by Jason Watkins (Love Nina, The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies) is uneasy about how she has appeared to crack the case – Operation Trapdoor – and he brings her methods to the attention of the anti-corruption team who start investigating.

Joining the series is Lee Ingleby (The A Word, Our Zoo) who plays Roz’s husband Nick.

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Line of Duty airs on BBC1 later this month

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Line of Duty fan? Join creator Jed Mercurio and cast at the BFI & Radio Times Festival. Click here for information – more tickets released soon!