With BBC One re-airing Line of Duty from the beginning, fans of the long-running detective drama are bound to be wondering when we’re likely to see new episodes of the police anti-corruption drama.
The good news is that season six is on its way, with the core AC-12 cast set to star alongside new guest star Kelly Macdonald (DCI Joanne Davidson). The bad news is that the series has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, with production suspended just four weeks into the shoot.
But! The extra-good news is that filming will re-start “soon” and the team is determined to bring Line of Duty back to our screens as soon as they can.
So what exactly do we know so far…?
Luckily, RadioTimes.com was able to host a livestreamed Q&A with Vicky McClure (DI Kate Fleming), Adrian Dunbar (Superintendent Ted Hastings), Martin Compston (DS Steve Arnott), Lennie James (DCI Tony Gates), Craig Parkinson (DI Dot Cottan), showrunner Jed Mercurio and executive producer Simon Heath – so we have a few more answers. Here’s what you need to know:
When will Line of Duty be back on TV?
The short answer is: 2021 – hopefully.
Filming for Line of Duty season six got underway in February, and we had initially been expecting the drama to air in 2020. However, as the coronavirus pandemic escalated, producers made the decision to suspend filming four weeks in to the shoot. Lockdown was officially imposed days later.
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. But by June 2020, during an appearance on the A Stab in the Dark podcast, the showrunner was more hopeful.
He said: “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… 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.”
Several UK broadcasters, including the BBC, announced in July that they would resume TV production with new COVID-19 safety guidance. A major government-backed insurance scheme has also been launched, removing another obstacle to production.
And in August 2020, executive producer Simon Heath told RadioTimes.com that production would restart “soon”.
Mercurio said: “We do [know the date]… There are a few things to figure out, but we’re working towards a day.”
Line of Duty watchalong: live aftershow Q&A
Join RadioTimes.com for an exclusive live Q&A with the stars and writer of Line of Duty. We'll be catching up with Jed Mercurio, Craig Parkinson, Adrian Dunbar, Lennie James, Vicky McClure and Martin Compston. Tune in on BBC One at 21:00 BST to watch Line of Duty series 1 episode 1, and follow #LineOfDuty on Twitter where we'll be posting live during the Watchalong!
Posted by Radio Times on Monday, August 3, 2020
Deadline has previously reported a tentative filming start-date of 26th August, but Mercurio told us: “I know a date has been talked about in the press, but as usual they got it wrong. We are working towards a day and if we can get over all the hurdles then we will be back filming.”
Asked whether the re-start date was in 2020, he said: “Well, it has to be, yeah. We’d love to be on air next year, so we really have to make sure we complete our filming before Christmas.”
Appearing on The One Show in August, Martin Compston confirmed: “We’ve got a definite date that we’re working towards. There’s no point announcing it because the situation’s so fluid, it can change daily. So hopefully we can get it done before Christmas.”
He added: “I think if there’s changes that are possible in terms of moving scenes which were indoors, outdoors, where possible – but we really wouldn’t want to compromise the scripts. The scripts are so good. And people are so loyal to the show, there would be no point coming back if we were going to compromise quality.”
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.
Will coronavirus be included in Line of Duty?
Mercurio recently revealed that series six may also reflect the coronavirus pandemic, as the cast and crew were in the early stages of filming when they were forced to halt production.
“We’re still discussing it,” he told Radio Times magazine. “At that point we were shooting a representation of life as it was, there was no social distancing, no mask wearing. Clearly that’s not the world we’re currently in, but what no one knows is how long we are in this fight.”
And in August 2020, he told us during a live Q&A with RadioTimes.com: “We’re still talking about it. There are some things that we can do, some very simple things that the audience won’t notice, like have as many scenes outdoors as possible, which allows social distancing of the crew, and it’s a safer environment for COVID. So we’re looking at things like that, which are kind of invisible changes.
“But we would obviously have to think very carefully about doing visible changes.”
Martin Compston also had concerns about continuity between footage shot pre-lockdown and post-lockdown, joking: “We’ll have to accommodate the stone of weight that I’ve put on!” – while Jed teased a fake plot detail for season six: “Martin has to go undercover and it’s part of his disguise, to be a stone heavier.”
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.
BBC One is re-airing Line of Duty’s first series, starting from Monday 3rd August at 9pm.
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.
What will happen in Line of Duty season 6?
It’s very, very hard to squeeze any details about the upcoming sixth season out of any of the Line of Duty team!
However, Martin Compston told us during the live Q&A that he’d been revisiting the scripts.
“Not to sound like we’re a band and I’m trying to sell our newest album, but I was just reading the scripts again and they’re so good that I feel like it’s our second chance, another chance to go back to it and really do it justice,” he said.
The actor added: “For this year, I think we’ve filmed [episodes] one and two, and as a cast, we’ve got [the scripts for] three and four, and Jed is writing five and six and we haven’t seen them, and there’s a bombshell at the end of four and I’m desperate to find out what happens!”
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. Buy the Line of Duty seasons 1-5 boxset now on Amazon.