Line of Duty’s Lennie James recalls “stupid idea” to resurrect series one’s Tony Gates

The Save Me Too actor got a bit too excited and told everyone he was coming back until Jed Mercurio told him he'd "scrapped the stupid idea".

Lennie James as Tony Gates in Line of Duty

Line of Duty’s Lennie James has revealed he embarrassed himself with his overexcited reaction to Jed Mercurio’s short-lived plans to bring his character Tony Gates back to the series.

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The Save Me Too writer and actor recalled the moment when the drama’s creator Mercurio revealed a new scene resurrecting DCI Gates – even though it had been previously agreed that Gates wouldn’t survive beyond the first season due to James being under contract with HBO at the time.

Line of Duty’s first series has been rerun on BBC One, with the finale being aired on Monday night (17th August).

“I don’t know what Jed was thinking  – and I slightly revealed a little bit too much of myself when I showed him how excited I was at the possibility of Gates coming back to Line of Duty,” James told RadioTimes.com. “I was excited because it would have been fun to hang out with my mates again – Martin [Compston], Adrian [Dunbar], [Vicky McClure]-  they’ve become friends for life.”

James continued: “It was literally a day. Jed came in [on the set of his Sky medical drama Critical] and said, ‘I’ve written a scene where Gates appears, comes back’ and I was like, ‘fantastic, excellent’ and went around and told everybody. Then he came back in the next day, and I was like, ‘so what’s the details, when can I see it?’ and he was like, ‘I’ve scrapped it, it’s a stupid idea’. He was absolutely right, it was a stupid idea but if anyone could pull it off it would probably be him.”

Line of Duty stars Lennie James, Martin Compston and Vicky McClure on BBC One
Line of Duty stars Lennie James, Martin Compston and Vicky McClure on BBC One
BBC

Confirming Gates’ fate, James said: “He is well and truly mashed – dead and gone. He was a fantastic character to bring to life, one of my favourite characters that I’ve played. And again, I knew what I was signing up for when I went in, I knew that Gates wasn’t going to survive beyond the first series.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it in all honesty if he was going to be a continuing character because I was under contract with HBO at the time… When I started that I knew it was going to be a one and done. I didn’t know how he was going to go out because that final episode hadn’t been written yet but I did know he wasn’t going to last beyond the first series.”

Series one’s finale featured the corrupt DCI Gates walking onto the motorway and getting struck by a lorry.

Save Me Too, the second series of James’ acclaimed drama Save Me, aired on Sky Atlantic earlier this year, with fans desperate for a third instalment. Sky revealed that between 17th March and 5th April, Save Me Too had become its most downloaded show with more than 3.1 million views – with those kinds of figures, we suspect it’s only a matter of time before a third season is announced.

Line of Duty is available to stream on BBC iPlayer. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.

All episodes of Save Me Too are available on Sky Atlantic on demand and NOW TV on 1st April – check out the best Sky TV deals.

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You can also watch Save Me Too with a NOW TV seven day free trial then Entertainment Pass auto-renews at £8.99 a month, unless cancelled.