Adrian Dunbar says Line of Duty’s season 6 opener will be “quite startling” for fans

The repercussions of season five are still looming large over all the characters, and things have "definitely changed" at AC-12

Adrian Dunbar as Superintendent Ted Hastings in Line of Duty

Superintendent Ted Hastings actor Adrian Dunbar has teased that the first episode of Line of Duty season six is “quite startling” – and that the “landscape of AC-12 has definitely changed.”

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The story picks back up 18 months after the events of the season five finale, when anti-corruption boss Hastings was cleared of some extremely serious allegations. However, he was also found guilty of discreditable conduct and given a final written warning.

Speaking ahead of the new season, Dunbar told press including RadioTimes.com: “The repercussions of the last series have to play themselves out, and so the landscape has completely changed.

“So I think it’s quite a shock where we’re at, at the start of this new series. Because things have happened in people’s personal lives, people have moved on, things have happened. So I can’t tell you anything other than, the landscape of AC-12 has definitely changed and things are going to have to be resolved through the course of the series.

“I think it’s quite startling actually, what the opening episode is like, for an audience.”

Vicky McClure and Kelly Macdonald in Line of Duty season 6
Vicky McClure and Kelly Macdonald in Line of Duty season 6 episode 1 (BBC)

Discussing the 18-month gap, Martin Compston (DS Steve Arnott) added: “It means the story has kind of moved on, and as Adrian says the repercussions of [season] five are looming large over all the characters – because the way we ended it, AC-12 and the gaffer was under suspicion and all of that – when you’re anti-corruption unit and the head of the unit’s been under investigation, even if he’s exonerated, that sort of lingers.

“For Steve personally, he’s still sort of dealing with the consequences of the attack he had in an earlier series and he’s kind of fronting up – you know, he kind of sees himself as a super cop, so he doesn’t want to show any weakness and he doesn’t share with anybody his problems, so his personal life is in a bit of a level of distress.

“He’s really struggling but he’s trying to put on a brave face at work and just keep going as best as he can, but you kind of get the feeling there’s a breaking point coming.”

Adrian Dunbar and Martin Compston in Line of Duty season 6
Adrian Dunbar and Martin Compston in Line of Duty season 6 (BBC)

As for the question of whether Steve will ever catch a break in his professional life, it doesn’t look promising. Compston said: “Well he’s definitely not been promoted. Jed [Mercurio] just loves torturing Steve, and I don’t know what it is, but he’s got this thing – he explained it to me, because at first I thought he was just doing it for a laugh. But he kind of always likes to say: the audience likes to see a protagonist go up against all these troubles and try and overcome them.”

Vicky McClure, who stars as DI Kate Fleming, told us: “A lot went off in series five, it was a dramatic time for AC-12, so the repercussions of that and the consequences are very much what we’re going to be stepping into… I mean, there’s just so much going off this series, it’s hard to put it into words.”

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Line of Duty begins on Sunday 21st March at 9pm on BBC One. Take a look at the rest of our Drama coverage, or check out what else is on with our TV guide.