Line of Duty series 7 release date: All the news on the BBC drama’s future

Despite huge ratings, there's no guarantee Jed Mercurio's hit drama will continue.

Line of Duty character portrait collage

After seven weeks of nail-biting scenes, irresistible cliffhangers and record-breaking viewing figures, the sixth season of Line of Duty has come to an end.

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And while the final episode wrapped up several loose threads, viewers were still left with a handful of questions when the credits rolled, including the inevitable ‘Will there be another series?’.

Well, sadly the answer to that question is more complicated than you might think. Despite the tremendous success of the show, there are one or two question marks over its future – with some people suggesting that this could be the final outing for AC-12.

As things stand, there has been no confirmation that a seventh season is forthcoming and there’s no guarantee an announcement is imminent, especially as the season six finale delivered a degree of closure.

However, there is certainly hope on the horizon for fans who were underwhelmed by the series finale, with BBC Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore already saying she is open to discussing more episodes.

While we wait for any official word one way or another, RadioTimes.com has done some investigating of our own, compiling all the most intriguing statements that the cast and crew of Line of Duty have made about the show’s future and dissecting what the season six ending could mean.

Now, we slide this top-secret file across the desk to you. Here’s everything we know so far about a potential Line of Duty series seven on BBC One.

Will Line of Duty return for series 7?

The bottom line is, we don’t have a concrete answer to this question just yet.

In the run-up to the Line of Duty season six premiere, Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio was coy about discussing the future of his hit drama, telling Radio Times that the prospect of a continuation was uncertain.

“We’re in a situation where it’s not entirely clear that there will be a seventh series,” he said. “We would hope there could be. But we’re having to do our planning coming out of COVID, and a whole bunch of other things, around the idea that these things aren’t guaranteed at all now.

“A lot of it depends on the key creatives – that’s me and the main actors – finding new stories to tell within that universe,” he added.

Furthermore, when asked about his previous claim that he insisted on being commissioned two series ahead to avoid the risk of cancellation, he responded “I haven’t necessarily been true to that.”

And he added, “Line of Duty may have reached ‘the Chandrasekhar Limit’, at which a mass collapses under its own gravitational force.”

It’s not the answer that fans will have wanted, but it does keep the door open for more episodes down the line – and the cast certainly seem to be onboard with the idea.

Line of Duty, BBC Pictures

Main stars Martin Compston (who plays Steve Arnott), Vicky McClure (Kate Fleming) and Adrian Dunbar (Ted Hastings) have become firm friends since working together on Line of Duty, which made the social restrictions necessary while filming during a pandemic rather frustrating for them.

“We’ve got to do another series,” Dunbar told RadioTimes.com and other press. “We’ve got to get onto Jed and say ‘Look, we’ve got to do one that’s not like when we were in lockdown. We’ve got to do one where we’re back on the ground, we’re out there, we’re in the city, we’re having fun’. You know it’s a great city to have fun in, Belfast, so we really want to get back to doing that again.”

Co-star Martin Compston echoed this sentiment and added that it would be quite possible for the series to continue, even now the ‘H’ mystery has been solved.

“I think with Jed, there’s always potential for it to go on,” he said. “He could always start a new case, there’s always anti-corruption out there, as he would say.”

Furthermore, Gareth Bryn, a director who has worked on two episodes of the current run, recently posted a tweet that suggested that a seventh series could still be in the offing.

Reacting to news of the penultimate episode’s record-breaking viewing figures, he wrote, “Shocking! Only 11 million viewers for #LineofDuty!? Well, that’s embarrassing! What about the 50 million NOT watching. I suppose it IS helpful to have something for @jed_mercurio to aim for when he gets series 7 under way!”

And we know the BBC is certainly open to another series  – which is unsurprising considering the record ratings series 6 managed to achieve.

BBC Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore said, “Addictive event television, Line of Duty has kept the nation guessing for the last seven weeks, so it’s no surprise that last night’s jaw dropping finale set a ratings record.

“Jed Mercurio is a master of his craft, and I would like to congratulate him and the entire cast and crew for delivering such an incredible drama series.

“I’m looking forward to having a conversation with the team about where we go next and what the future of the series might be.”

Does the season 6 finale mean Line of Duty is ending?

As many fans had hoped, the season 6 finale did give us the resolution to the case that has been haunting AC-12 for years – the identity of ‘H’ or ‘The Fourth Man’.

With Ian Buckells now exposed, we see the conclusion of a storyline that has been playing out since the drama’s very beginning, as was signified at the end of the episode when we saw Ted’s evidence wall – complete with mugshots of characters dating back to the first series – being taken down.

Now, while there’s no reason that AC-12 couldn’t return with another case, it would certainly take the show into new ground. In many ways the revelation of Buckells as the Big Bad seems like a natural endpoint.

Then there are the issues surrounding the future of AC-12 itself: despite the successful operation, Chief Constable Osborne is pressing ahead unabated with his dismantling of the force’s anti-corruption units, and the closing credits reveal that he is placing those close to him – including Patricia Carmichael – in key positions of power.

While in some ways this could hint at things being over, we can also look at this as possibly setting up an intriguing seventh season, which could potentially follow Steve, Kate and the (hopefully reinstated) Ted fighting to regain control of the unit.

There would certainly be more forces stopping them from catching bent coppers than ever before, that’s for sure. And while they might have got their top man, there’s no doubting there’s still a fair amount of rotten apples that need rooting out…

Want more analysis of the finale? We have plenty – you can read our Line of Duty ending explainer, check out the Line of Duty unanswered questions left up in the air, or take a look at all of the Line of Duty red herrings that teased and deceived the finale outcome.

Line of Duty series 7 cast

Adrian Dunbar and Martin Compston in Line of Duty season 6

The Line of Duty gang have put their lives on the line for justice in season six, with both Kate and Steve staring down the barrel of a gun on a couple of occasions.

Then there was the intense stand-off between Kate Fleming and Ryan Pilkington (played by Gregory Piper), both pointing guns at each other, which ended with multiple shots being fired as Steve Arnott and Ted Hastings rushed to the scene.

Fans were desperate to find out where those stray bullets went, with Kate, Steve, Ryan and bent copper Jo Davidson (played by Kelly Macdonald) all in grave danger – and the episode six synopsis promising a fallout from “tragic” events.

Thankfully the AC-12 trio made it through season six (relatively) unscathed, and although they still have their own demons to face we’d be pretty sure that any future season of the show would have to include them.

What could happen in Line of Duty series 7?

Kelly Macdonald as DCI Jo Davidson in Line of Duty

Line of Duty story details are always kept tightly under wraps, as creator Jed Mercurio likes to make sure we have plenty of twists and turns to enjoy.

Therefore, it’s hard to say for sure what could happen in a potential seventh series, but it’s likely the show would retain its traditional format of recruiting a big name guest star to play a brand new suspect.

So far, the series has seen the likes of Lennie James (The Walking Dead), Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard), Daniel Mays (Des), Thandiwe Newton (Westworld) and Stephen Graham (The Virtues) as coppers under investigation.

Of this star-studded line-up, only Hawes has appeared across more than one series of Line of Duty, but perhaps Kelly Macdonald’s Jo Davidson could do the same, having made it out of the sixth series alive.

But with the question of who is’H’ now resolved, Line of Duty will have to go in some new directions if it is to be renewed for another run – and we trust that Mercurio will still have plenty of ideas if he does want to keep things going.

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Line of Duty is available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Take a look at more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.