AC-12 fans have waited over a year for Line of Duty to return to BBC One, with the coronavirus pandemic delaying the sixth series even further.
However, now that several broadcasters, including the BBC, have announced plans to resume filming without distancing cast and crew by two metres in some situations, there’s a chance that Superintendent Ted Hastings will be back sooner than expected.
The last time we saw our favourite Anti-Corruption Unit, DS Arnott (Martin Compston), DI Fleming (Vicky McClure) and Superintendent Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) had wrapped up Operation Pear Tree, after Gill Biggeloe was discovered to be working with the organised crime group at large.
Which bent coppers will AC-12 be investigating in the upcoming series? Who is set to guest star? Here’s everything we know about Line of Duty’s sixth season so far.
When will Line of Duty be back on TV?
Line of Duty season six got underway earlier this year but production was suspended as the coronavirus outbreak spread.
News filming had been halted was confirmed by the programme’s official Twitter account in March in a statement which said: “In light of the spread of COVID-19, after much considerations @worldprods are suspending filming of #LineofDuty S6 with the support of the BBC. We will keep you updated with further developments in due course.”
In May 2020, creator Jed Mercurio gave an update to fans on The Andrew Marr Show, stating that it was “in doubt” whether Line of Duty would resume filming this year or have to pick back up in 2021.
And Mercurio provided some more information in June 2020 during an appearance on the A Stab in the Dark podcast, explaining that there is now hope that filming would be able to wrap before the end of the year.
He said, “Well we shot for four weeks before we were forced to reach the conclusion that it wasn’t safe to carry on.
“We shut down nine days before the government lockdown and we’re having talks currently with the BBC and the production company to determine when we might be able to resume.
“There are a number of issues still to be resolved on an industry-wide basis, things like insurance and finance and social distancing guidelines that specifically apply to filming.
“So, there are people working on those, some involve the unions, some involve the producers bodies, some involve the broadcasters, some involve the department of culture, media and sport.
“Eventually, there will be a set of guidelines that apply to so-called high end TV. We are hoping that we can get the series shot before the end of this calendar year, if all those measures are reached which allow us to film in the way that we need to be able to do.”
However, several UK broadcasters, including the BBC, announced in July that they would resume production on series with new guidance allowing crews to disregard the 2-metre separation rule, so hopefully Line of Duty will be back on our screens in the near-future.
Given these extraordinary circumstances, RadioTimes.com predicts that Line of Duty series six will air on BBC One in late 2021, allowing extra time for the series to resume production safely.
Rochenda Sandall in Line of Duty (BBC)
In June 2020, our suspicions appeared to be confirmed by series star Rochenda Sandall, who told Sunday Brunch, “Jed worked in a medical position beforehand so he’s got a super awareness of [the pandemic] I imagine.”
She continued, “He has got a wider knowledge than most, so I don’t think [filming] will start until it is absolutely okay to do so, which means fans might have to wait another year. There were two years between four and five so I think it’s worth the wait!”
Who is the guest star for Line of Duty series 6?
The guest lead for series six of Line of Duty will be Kelly Macdonald, who will play DCI Joanne Davidson, “the senior investigating officer of an unsolved murder, whose unconventional conduct raises suspicions at AC-12”.
Line of Duty writer and showrunner, Jed Mercurio, said: “We’re honoured that Kelly Macdonald will join Martin, Vicky and Adrian in series six of Line Of Duty. DCI Joanne Davidson will prove the most enigmatic adversary AC-12 have ever faced.”
Macdonald recently starred in The Victim and Giri/Haji. She is also known for her roles in Trainspotting, Gosford Park, State Of Play, No Country For Old Men and Boardwalk Empire.
Who is in the Line of Duty cast?
The main AC-12 actors: Adrian Dunbar (Supt Ted Hastings), Vicky McClure (DI Kate Fleming), and Martin Compston (DS Steve Arnott) are all set to return.
Joining them will be Shalom Brune-Franklin (Our Girl), Andi Osho (Kiri) and Prasanna Puwanarajah (Doctor Foster).
Perry Fitzpatrick will also be part of the cast, having previously appeared opposite Vicky McClure in Channel 4’s This Is England and I Am Nicola.
Line of Duty – series 6 new cast Don Arnold/WireImage/Michael Tullberg/David M. Benett/Getty Images
It’s also possible Taj Atwal (PC Tatleen Sohota) and Aiysha Hart (Murder Squad cop DS Sam Railston) will make a comeback.
Polly Walker’s character Gill Biggeloe has been given a new identity, which doesn’t entirely rule out a return in season six, but there would have to be some sturdy justification for bringing her back.
Aiysha Hart as DS Sam Railston
As in previous years, we’re expecting some big name guest stars to join the cast in series, but there have been no official announcements just yet aside from Kelly Macdonald.
And Jed Mercurio is already teasing us with some highly unlikely series six guest stars…
How to watch Line of Duty online
Line of Duty is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer. Series 1-4 is also available to watch on Netflix (as of 30th June 2020).
If you would prefer to own every episode, you can pick up the first five seasons in one handy DVD box set through Amazon UK.
What happened in Line of Duty series five?
You can see a summary of each episode here or read a (spoiler-heavy) synopsis below…
- Line of Duty series 5: episode 1
- Line of Duty series 5: episode 2
- Line of Duty series 5: episode 3
- Line of Duty series 5: episode 4
- Line of Duty series 5: episode 5
- Line of Duty series 5: episode 6
The fifth run of Line of Duty centred on John Corbett (Stephen Graham), a rogue undercover officer who would go to any lengths to catch ‘H’, the corrupt copper at the heart of the Organised Crime Group (OCG).
As the series progressed, we learned that Corbett had links to AC-12 chief Ted Hastings. It transpired that Corbett’s mother, Anne-Marie, was a police informant who had a relationship – professional and perhaps more – with Hastings during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Thanks to lawyer Gill Biggeloe – who was secretly in league with the OCG – Corbett believed Hastings was responsible for Anne-Marie’s death at the hands of paramilitary forces. And, again due to Biggeloe, Corbett was determined to prove Hastings was a bent copper.
But his mission was cut short when the OCG discovered Corbett was a rat and slit his throat.
How did the OCG find out Corbett’s true identity? By the end of the series, it still wasn’t clear. According to OCG member Lisa McQueen, Corbett’s cover was blown thanks to a tip-off from Lee Banks, an imprisoned henchman from the same gang.
And where did Banks get this information from? Although never proven, many suspected Ted Hastings was the source. As AC-3 leader DCS Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) theorised, Hastings could have leaked this intel as revenge – earlier in the series Corbett had beaten Ted’s wife.
After a large amount of bribe money was discovered in Hastings’ shabby hotel room, Carmichael then arrested him for conspiring to murder Corbett. And, going further, she intended to prove Hastings was ‘H’. However, this investigation only revealed that Biggeloe was actually trying to frame Ted for everything.
But although Hastings returned to active duty at the end of the series, he’s sadly not completely off the hook just yet…
Series six has been confirmed as taking place 18 months on from the events of the previous series.
Will series six be Line of Duty’s last?
In short: we’re not sure.
In a lot longer: Although the BBC hasn’t commissioned a seventh series, Mercurio certainly appears open to the idea. Rather than outright saying the sixth run would be the show’s last, he told the audience at the BFI & Radio Times Festival that he will be discussing future episodes with the BBC after series five has broadcast.
“Once series five has finished airing we’ll have a conversation with the BBC, with a view to whether there’s a possibility to series seven being commissioned. But we definitely know we’ve got series six,” he said.
Judging from series five viewing figures, a recommission seems likely. Its opening episode drew in a peak audience of over 8 million viewers, with an average of 7.8 million watching the entire episode — that’s larger than the season four finale in 2017.
Meanwhile Jed Mercurio was recently asked if he thought a US version of Line of Duty would ever be considered – and replied that although there has been interest over the years, the US market prefers a “home-grown approach”.
Who is H?
Not one person, but four. Turns out that AC-12 had misinterpreted the dying testimony of Dot ‘The Caddy’ Cottan: instead of one police Kingpin called ‘H’, there’s actually a quartet of high-ranking police staff working with the OCG.
Looking back at the testimony, Steve Arnott and Kate Fleming noticed that Craig Parkinson’s character was tapping out the Morse code for ‘H’ on his left hand. Combining this signal with Cottan blinking at the letter ‘H’, the AC-12 detectives deduced he wasn’t trying to reveal the identity of one bent copper, but make it clear there’s four in the service.
In other words, there are four corrupt officers – and they’re NOT necessarily called ‘H’.
How much does this revelation change Line of Duty? At this stage in the show, not a lot. After all, as Fleming outlines, AC-12 has already discovered three of the four ‘H’s (again, just to clarify, their name doesn’t have to start with ‘H’). And they are…
- DI Matthew Dot Cottan – as known as ‘The Caddy’
- Lawyer Gill Biggeloe
- Chief Superintendent Derek Hilton
There’s still one out there, though. As before, AC-12 are on the hunt for one corrupt senior member of the service.
The bad news? It could be anyone – their name doesn’t have to start with ‘H’. The good news? The final ‘H’ maybe isn’t as powerful as was feared – they were just one of four, not a single criminal mastermind.
Where is Line of Duty filmed?
Line of Duty is filmed in Belfast, where the cast relocate during shooting. Series six saw Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar return to the Northern Irish capital, but the cast and crew were released when filming was halted due to coronavirus.
If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.