Great news, fellas: series five of Line of Duty WON’T be the show’s last.
The BBC1 drama following the intricate investigations of police anti-corruption unit AC-12 is set to return for at least one more run, with the BBC commissioning a sixth series before the fifth had even aired.
But when exactly will Jed Mercurio’s acclaimed thriller return to screens? Here’s everything you need to know about future episodes.
When will Line of Duty be back on TV?
Although series six has been given the green light, the BBC is yet to indicate when it might air.
Fans may have to wait some time, though: excluding the 12-month gap between series three and four, the BBC show has traditionally aired on a two-year cycle.
If the show follows form, a spring 2021 airtime would be likely.
How to watch Line of Duty online
Further evidence suggesting a long wait is ahead: in May 2019, writer Jed Mercurio suggested in a tweet that he hadn’t started yet writing scripts for a sixth series.
And speaking in September 2018, series creator Mercurio said: “With Line of Duty we’re shooting series five now, and series six has been commissioned which we’re going to shoot hopefully in the next couple of years.”
It’s also a possibility that Mercurio will work on the second series of Bodyguard – another major BBC hit he penned – before the sixth series of Line of Duty. Although the Richard Madden drama hasn’t been recommissioned, Mercurio previously told RadioTimes.com he would be ready to write more episodes if the BBC offered him the opportunity.
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.
Who’s in the Line of Duty cast?
We can expect all the main AC-12 actors – Adrian Dunbar (Supt Ted Hastings), Vicky McClure (DI Kate Fleming), and Martin Compston (DS Steve Arnott) – will return.
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 is still alive but has been given a new identity. Although likely this doesn’t completely rule out that her character will return – although going into witness protection at the end of series one, Tommy Hunter (played by Brian McCardie) returned in series two, albeit as a corpse.
Aiysha Hart as DS Sam Railston
As in previous years, we’re expecting some big guest stars to join the regular cast. We’ll find out more about these closer to the airdate.
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…
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?
Previous series of the show have been filmed in Belfast, where the cast relocate during shooting.