“Hooray for AC-12!” said BBC director-general Tony Hall as he announced the commissioning of an unexpected sixth season of hit cop drama Line of Duty.
Series four of the BBC1 police anti-corruption drama ended on Sunday, and while we knew it would be back for at least one more run as the huge and complex story arc of police corruption headed towards its denouement, whether it would extend beyond that remained a mystery.
But at an event launching a raft of new BBC drama commissions, Lord Hall told the audience “I am very excited to say there’s not one but two more series of Line of Duty. So hooray for AC-12!”
AC-12 is the police anti-corruption unit headed up by Adrian Dunbar’s Superintendent Ted Hastings, who brought to justice certain criminals and corrupt cops at the end of the series but continues to hunt down the as yet unknown ringleaders.
Earlier this year, the show’s creator Jed Mercurio told RadioTimes.com he was unsure as to whether series five would be the last and was waiting for news before deciding exactly what course the remainder of the show would take.
“If, by the time we get to the development of series five, there are no further series commissioned, then we have to approach series five as if it’s the last,” he said. “If we know we have got a sixth series then we are able to look ahead.
“I have got an idea of how things will conclude or, more accurately, the kind of story we need to get into for that to be dramatised,” he added. “Whereas if I know series five is not the last series then I have other ideas that are more standalone in terms of what the story is.”
Mercurio will be delighted with the news, having told us he had always hoped to make at least six series of Line of Duty.
“I certainly would make six,” he said. “Whether I would go beyond six would depend on how series five went.
“One of the advantages of commissioning two ahead is that it allows you to take a breath and look forward to the next one, and at the moment there is a great appetite among all of us involved in the programme to do more. What we don’t know is whether there will come a point where we kind of lose that enthusiasm to keep going back.”
The announcement will come as a silver lining for Line of Duty fans who recently discovered that they may not get to see the next series until spring 2019.