Jed Mercurio reveals the one thing that stopped him killing off his main Line of Duty trio

Line of Duty showrunner Jed Mercurio is reluctant to mess with AC-12's famous trio

Line of Duty and Jed Mercurio

One of the core Line of Duty trio would have been killed off long ago, showrunner Jed Mercurio has revealed – if it weren’t for the super-strong friendship between those three actors.

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While Mercurio has gained a reputation for axing his main characters in unexpected ways, AC-12’s Adrian Dunbar (Superintendent Ted Hastings), Martin Compston (DS Steve Arnott) and Vicky McClure (DI Kate Fleming) have all survived five series and counting.

Speaking at The South Bank Show Live, the screenwriter told Melvyn Bragg that it was “no accident” he’d kept the same three lead actors.

Line of Duty S5 - episode 3

“I mean, they’re really good actors,” he said. “But of course they get on really well with each other, we all get on very well, and if that hadn’t happened, one of them would have been – you know – killed. In an unexpected way that would propel the story forward.”

Memorable Line of Duty deaths include (spoiler alert) the premature killing of series lead Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays), the shooting of Lindsay Denton (Keeley Hawes), the assassination of John Corbett (Stephen Graham), and the completely unexpected moment when AC-12 newcomer Georgia Trotman (Jessica Raine) was chucked out of a hospital window in her very first episode.

But despite Mercurio’s habit of killing off his characters, he still shocked Bodyguard fans with (spoiler!) the murder of his main character, Home Secretary Julia Montague (Hawes).

Explaining how he decides whether to get rid of a character or keep them alive, Mercurio said: “It’s always got to be about what’s in the best interests of the series, because it’s not in the best interests of the character to be dead.

“So the way I would approach it is to look at what new story you get from that. And if the audience has got a real attachment to the character, it means that they’re invested in whether there will be justice for that character – or if it’s a mystery, whether they’ll be invested in finding out what might have actually befallen them.”

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Jed Mercurio’s episode of The South Bank Show 2019 will air on Sky Arts on Tuesday 16th July at 10pm and will also be available on NOW TV