Line of Duty creator hints more romantic "trajectory" for Jo and Kate's relationship was scrapped due to COVID rules
The pandemic made intimate scenes a logistical challenge.
Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio has hinted that restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic may have prevented more intimate storylines from being included in the crime drama's recent sixth series.
Throughout the seven-episode run, there were glimmers of a romantic connection between bent copper Joanne Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) and former AC-12 officer Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure).
However, this relationship ultimately never went further than a bit of hand-holding and some longing glances, leading some viewers to accuse the show of queerbaiting – the practice of hinting at LGBTQ+ romance, but not actually depicting it.
In an interview with Den of Geek, Mercurio seemed to address this issue by explaining that safety protocols used to lower the risk of coronavirus transmission required more "physical distance" than originally intended.
"It was about the practicalities of filming, so the physical distance between people. There’s more distance between the characters than the intention was," he said.
"With the key personal relationships that were portrayed in the season, we did look very closely at how impractical it would be to have physical intimacy involving our main cast. That did affect some of the sequences we wanted to do and some of the personal stories we wanted to do."
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Mercurio went on to specify that the intimacy problem had a direct impact on storylines written for both Jo and Kate, as well as Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and Steph Corbett (Amy De Bhrún).
"Those were things that had very specific trajectories, and there were limitations on how we could approach them," he added.
Line of Duty series six left AC-12 in a precarious position, with Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) being forced out of his role and the powers of his former squad at their weakest levels to date.
On the bright side, there was a happy ending for Jo, who was placed into witness protection and is later seen living happily in the countryside with another woman and a pet dog.
Line of Duty is available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.