Will there be a Line of Duty season 7? Release date speculation, cast and latest news
Despite huge ratings, there's no guarantee Jed Mercurio's hit drama will continue.
After a dramatic finale to its sixth season, Line of Duty fans have naturally been wondering whether another instalment is on the horizon.
Season 6 saw anti-corruption trio Hastings, Arnott and Fleming finally expose the identity of H, aka the Fourth Man, with DC Chloë Bishop discovering it was Ian Buckells (Nigel Boyle) all along.
However, it might not be a complete wrap for the drama just yet if Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar’s recent comments are anything to go by.
The actor, who stars as Ted Hastings in the Jed Mercurio series, has revealed that he's "hoping something might happen next year" with Line of Duty.
Speaking to Radio Times magazine, Dunbar said that he would "really like to" return to the award-winning drama.
"There’s been talk about a movie or a four-parter or two 90 minutes," he teased. "We’d love to do it again. I’m really hoping something might happen next year."
He added that there's "something in Jed's laptop – a couple of templates as to how things could go", while he regularly speaks to his co-stars about working together again.
"We’re always talking about stuff. Vicky [McClure] and her fella Jonny Owen have their own production company now. We’d love to do something all together one day."
"I don't know! I don't know, there's no word of it. I think we've all been really honest and said should that happen, we're all game," she said.
She went on to say that she’d love to be part of a new version of the show with Mercurio as well as her co-stars Dunbar and Martin Compston if they were keen.
"I'll just stick with the guys. I think when it comes to a close, it will be a natural close for us all."
So, if like us, you can’t stop thinking about AC-12 and whether they’ll be back doing what they do best (catching bent coppers), then read on for the latest information about a potential season 7 return of the BBC drama.
In the meantime, if you want more analysis of the season 6 finale, why not check out our Line of Duty ending explainer, our Line of Duty unanswered questions, or take a look at all of the Line of Duty red herrings that teased and deceived the finale outcome.
Will Line of Duty return for season 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 6 premiere, Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio was coy about discussing the future of his hit drama, telling RadioTimes.com 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 seasons 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.
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."
He recently told Tom Allen on the BAFTA TV red carpet that he's still up for another season, saying: "Don't know about that, whether we'll see another series. I'm sure everybody wants one, we certainly want one."
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 worked on two episodes in season 6, reacted with news of record-breaking viewing figures with the tweet: "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!"
But in an interview with Den of Geek, Mercurio said it was "too soon" to say whether the season 6 finale was the last-ever episode or not.
Line of Duty season 7 release date rumours
Season 7 has yet to be confirmed – but if it is commissioned, we're probably in for a bit of a wait.
Previous seasons of Line of Duty have aired in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019, and (thanks to a pandemic-related filming delay) 2021. The drama usually airs across March and April, though there's no rule saying it couldn't air at another time of year.
More like this
It's still possible that Mercurio will get the next season written and filmed in time for a 2022 air date, but at this point we think it more likely that Line of Duty will return in spring 2023.
Martin Compston told ES Magazine that it would be travesty not to work with his Line of Duty co-stars again, but that they all need a break first: "The idea that I would never work with all the guys again together would be heartbreaking. But also with everything that’s just gone on this week, I think everybody, including the audience, needs a bit of time away from it. So we’ll see."
Will the BBC renew Line of Duty?
We know the BBC is certainly open to another season – which is unsurprising considering the record ratings season 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."
Asked for an update on season 7, BBC Drama commissioner Piers Wenger simply said: "No comment" – a very familiar line for fans of the show.
Line of Duty season 7 cast rumours
Thankfully the AC-12 trio made it through season 6 without any of them dying, so we're hopeful that season 7 would see the return of Martin Compston (DI Steve Arnott), Adrian Dunbar (Superintendent Ted Hastings), and Vicky McClure (DI Kate Fleming).
It also seems likely that AC-12's hardest-working new recruit DC Chloe Bishop (Shalom Brune-Franklin) will return (though – with the city's anti-corruption units going through a merger – nothing is guaranteed).
And Anna Maxwell Martin would surely return as DCS Patricia Carmichael, though the actress herself insisted in an interview with Grazia that she has no insider information on whether she – or even the show itself – is coming back: "I wouldn’t know... I’m not in with the in-crowd there and I’m not sure the in-crowd even knows.’
But what about Line of Duty's next guest lead?
So far, the series has seen the likes of Lennie James, Keeley Hawes, Daniel Mays, Thandiwe Newton, Stephen Graham and Kelly Macdonald join as guest stars.
Of this star-studded line-up, only Hawes has appeared across more than one season of Line of Duty. Kelly Macdonald's Jo Davidson could do the same, having made it out of the sixth season alive – but that seems rather unlikely, as her story ended with her in witness protection (with a girlfriend, a cottage and a golden retriever – lucky).
Jed Mercurio will surely pick another top TV actor to lead season 7, but we'll have to wait and see.
What could happen in a season 7 return? Theories and predictions
It's hard to say for sure what could happen in a potential seventh season, 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 – although we trust that Mercurio will still have plenty of ideas if he does want to keep things going.
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've reached 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 season – 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.
That being said, Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar recently teased that the H plot might not be entirely wrapped up, telling Tom Allen on the BAFTA TV red carpet: "There may be a way to go with all that.
"We don't know yet, do we? There are rumours. Who knows?"
Aside from the H of it all, 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...
Mercurio does seem to be open to going deeper on Chief Constable Philip Osborne (Owen Teale), who many fans still believe is the most senior bent copper of them all. The showrunner told Den of Geek: “I think that if there is more Line of Duty then clearly there’s potential there. He’s someone who retains high office who is an outright liar and has been involved in corruption in the past in terms of the Karim Ali case and the Lawrence Christopher case.
"Clearly there would be potential there if we wanted to explore it, but it’s too early to say whether we ever would."
The latest issue of Radio Times magazine is released on Tueada – subscribe now and get the next 12 issues for only £1. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times podcast with Jane Garvey.