Even before Line of Duty series five had started airing, creator Jed Mercurio had teased that a familiar face from series one would be making a return this year on BBC1.
No, he didn’t mean the frozen corpse of Jackie Laverty, nor the long list of dodgy coppers who have dogged AC-12 for years.
Instead, Mercurio was talking about Ryan Pilkington.
The youngest member of the organised crime gang, played by actor Gregory Piper, has a long history in the BBC1 crime drama.
However, with the character suggesting in series five episode five that he is about to leave behind a life of crime for good, let’s take a look back at exactly what his role so far has been…
Who is criminal Ryan Pilkington in Line of Duty?
Ryan comes into the scene in Line of Duty series five as one of John Corbett’s ruthless balaclava gang. Alongside the likes of Lisa McQueen and thug Miroslav, he’s one of the regular faces of the OCG.
He had a particularly gruesome part to play during series five episode four: he was the person who slit John Corbett’s throat after the undercover cop fell into the trap set by the other members of the OCG.
That vicious scene makes the revelation in episode five that Ryan has been sitting for exams and working towards a ‘regular’ job all the more surprising.
“I feel terrible,” Lisa McQueen (Rochenda Sandall) tells Ryan as they watch John’s body be dumped in a scrapheap. “I never asked you how your exams went?”
Ryan replies, “Great. I’ve got a date for my interview too.”
The warped family scene is completed with Ryan looking out at the scene of death and saying wistfully, “I’m gonna miss all this fun.”
Does this mean that Ryan’s days in the OCG are over? Will we see him sitting nervously in a suit and tie as an interviewer pores over his CV? Only time will tell.
Of course, series five isn’t the first time we’ve seen Ryan in Line of Duty…
When did Ryan first appear in Line of Duty?
“I want to ask the audience a question,” Mercurio said at a screening for the first episode of series five. “Did anybody spot who one of the organised crime gang were? Did anybody spot…? The little kid from series one! The kid who was 12 or 13 riding around on that BMX bike!”
Yes that’s right: Ryan’s been a thorn in the side of AC-12 ever since the very first series.
Ryan Pilkington in Line of Duty series one (BBC)
The character is even played by the same actor, Gregory Piper, who was just 12 years old when he first appeared in the series.
For those who don’t remember, young Ryan had a miserable home life, and had become the terror of his council estate. Back then his job with the balaclava gang involved delivering “burner phones” and riding around on his BMX bike.
It seems the young lad has graduated to far more serious crimes now.