Are the Line of Duty interviews getting longer? And which one is the most intense? Scott Bryan investigates…
RadioTimes.com's new weekly TV columnist goes undercover at the heart of AC-12 (by staying at home and watching A LOT of iPlayer)
There is nothing like a Line of Duty police interrogation scene. The anxiety, the catchphrases, the fact that everything in the interrogation room looks beige. It’s the only scene on television that is accompanied with a cassette tape and the sound of an airhorn kicking off an interview.
But which AC-12 interview is the most intense? When did we hear our first airhorn? Has Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) always worn a waistcoat? I re-watched every single AC-12 interrogation scene to work it all out. Not that you’ve asked mind, but that hasn’t stopped me...
INTERVIEW ONE AND TWO - (S1: Episode 1)
Length: 2 minutes in total. Intensity: 1/10. Cassette: No beeping yet.
This interview is in regards to DCI Tony Gates not declaring in his expenses his free breakfast at the Sunflower Cafe. That’s it. I mean, as a matter of contrasts here [ahem, spoiler alert], the interview scene at the end of series three ended with a gun fight followed by Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) following someone whilst clinging onto the side of a lorry.
However, we should note that Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) plants his first catchphrase (“like the battle”) and says “interview terminated” when he presses stop on a police tape. At the end of the interview, he issues Gates a document referred to as a "yellow notice."
Personally speaking, I am now tempted to end any interview I will ever conduct by shouting “INTERVIEW TERMINATED” at the interviewee. I also want to hand out "yellow notices” to friends if they are ever late to something like brunch. As a result I won’t ever be offered any interviews, nor will I have any friends, but in the meantime I’ll have a lot of fun.
INTERVIEWS THREE TO SIX - (S1: Episode 2-5)
Length: 13 minutes in total. Intensity: 4/10. Cassette: No beeping yet.
The investigation into Tony has now been widened. We see a police federation representative, who is there to represent and defend Tony, a role in the Line of Duty world known for being eternally frustrated by everything that is going on around them. Therefore, I am tempted to add a new line of enquiry in this piece: Federation Rep Wanting the Interview to be Terminated: 7/10.
With the line of questioning against Gates intensifying, the Federation Rep retaliates by dropping the catchphrase: “DCI Gates is entitled to be questioned by an officer at least one rank superior,” before acting as if we all left the ovens on in all of our homes and we all should go home immediately. She also says something that is funnier without any context:
INTERVIEW SEVEN - (S2: Episode 1)
Length: 11 minutes. Intensity: 6/10. Cassette beep started yet? WE HAVE A BEEP.
Federation Rep Wanting Interview Termination: 8/10
BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP. To celebrate, I play this beep loudly whilst boiling the kettle for a celebratory cup of tea. We then hear “DCI Denton is entitled to be questioned by an officer at least one rank superior.” Boom! Another cup of tea. And the Federation Rep loses it several times and at one point says: “This interview has to stop.” It’s basically passive aggressive cassette tape airhorn interview Christmas.
Oh, and in case you have been wondering. I have been recording how long the interviews are manually via the stopwatch setting on my iPhone. And in completely unrelated news, I’m single.
INTERVIEW EIGHT - (S2: Episode 2)
Interview length: 17 minutes. Intensity: 8/10.
The interview length here is nearly a third of an episode. And it is the most intense interview of the show ever. A lot of this is down to Keeley Hawes playing the fantastic Lindsay Denton, but I also think some of it is down to Steve Arnott first showing us a map that looks as if he designed it on Microsoft Paint. It’s going to be so exciting when he finally discovers Google Maps.
INTERVIEW NINE AND TEN - (S2: Episode 4)
Length: 8 minutes 30 in total. Intensity: 5/10.
What I haven’t noticed until now is that sometimes tension in these interviews is added by someone pouring themselves a glass of water before responding to an accusation by AC-12. Here, someone pours several glasses of water before the interview even starts. I’m starting to consider whether I should start investigating Water Pouring Tension: (6/10) but I am also starting to wonder whether I am getting far too much into this and I should actually go outside.
The following interview features no water being poured, no cassette beeps, but the proud introduction of two police officers standing outside like mannequins staring at a nearby wall.
Oh and a new catchphrase, Hastings in slight frustration, leaning back on his chair and proudly proclaiming “give me strength.” A proud day.
INTERVIEW ELEVEN - (S2: Episode 5)
Length: 16 minutes. Intensity: 7/10 Water Pouring Tension: 6/10.
You know things are bad when you are not the one pouring water to increase the tension, your federation representative is the one who is pouring the water for you. That’s all I’m saying.
INTERVIEW TWELVE TO SEVENTEEN - (S2: Episode 6)
Length: 12 minutes in total Intensity: 6/10.
A trio of interviews in quick succession. For reasons that I won’t go into because it doesn’t involve cassettes and tap water, Steve Arnott is now representing Lindsay Denton, Hastings terminates an interview sounding as if someone has punched him in the stomach and the pouring-water-for-tension (current rating: 7/10) appears to be getting to everybody as Lindsay is asking the room if she can pop out for a loo break.
INTERVIEW EIGHTEEN - (S3: Episode 1)
Length: 12 mins 30. Intensity: 9/10.
Federation Rep Wanting Interview Termination: 10/10 [“This line of inquiry is offensive.”]
We are now in season three. The graphics have been upgraded. There are even touch-screens. Remember, in the first episode of the first series we were one heartbeat away from a slightly broken Geography lesson overhead projector. It’s like they just discovered the internet exists. Also, for historical purposes, I should note that Steve Arnott’s waistcoats are now a thing. It took this long! I tell my Dad. He doesn’t actually watch Line of Duty.
A new metric being currently mooted by me: Steve Arnott Waistcoat Intensity: 3/10
INTERVIEW NINETEEN TO TWENTY FOUR - (S3: Episode: 2-5)
Length: 21 minutes 40 seconds. Intensity: 8/10.
I have been watching these interviews for so long now I’m starting to worry that I’m going to start talking to people like they are in an AC-12 interview for the rest of my life.
I’m also slightly starting to regret doing this. If only there was a catchphrase by Hastings that reflected my feelings right now. Oh wait, he has. Thanks Ted.
INTERVIEW TWENTY FIVE TO TWENTY SEVEN - (S3: Episode 6)
Length: 46 minutes in total.
Intensity: TEN OUT OF TEN. IT’S THE LORRY EPISODE. BLOODY HELL.
OK THIS EPISODE WINS IN TERMS OF INTERVIEW INTENSITY. The interview is terminated because the police officer hatches an escape plan, which results in a gunfight. It results in a dramatic chase across town. I have decided to add a new metric: Kate Fleming Riding On The Side Of A Lorry With A Loaded Weapon: 10/10.
But the most intense moment of it all? Steve Arnott is being interviewed as a suspect, wearing a slightly baggy jumper, not his waistcoat.
INTERVIEW TWENTY EIGHT TO THIRTY - (S4: Episode 1-6)
Length: 54 minutes 30 seconds in total. Intensity: 7/10. Cassette Beep? YES
And now, finally, onto the BBC One series, the one with Roz Huntley. For one thing, following the slightly dramatic situation at the end of the last series they have now painted the interrogation room a nice shade of blue.
I could also launch a new investigation Hastings’ Sassy Responses to the Federation Rep after he says: “That is an inflammatory accusation.” He responds with:
This happens again in a later interview. When Hastings is told that his tone is oppressive, he simply responds with: “She’s an SIO. 20 years on the force, fella. If she can’t take it, God help us all.” I also wish that I counted every time Hastings said fella too throughout this entire process, but my editor actually wants this piece to be published before Line of Duty comes back and not after the series actually ends. [We still cut it pretty fine, Scott - ed.]
The final interview in the final episode ends in a gunfight in the beige reception area. I think we can all agree that we are a million miles away from our first interview at the Sunflower Cafe.
In conclusion, I’m very tired and trying to explain to my housemate what I have been doing takes rather a long time. Here are my findings.
The third series has the longest length in police interrogations and they are some of the most intensive. The fourth series had a bit of a dip, but then again they did paint the interrogation room blue, maybe that helped. As a bonus, I have also calculated this.
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I am pleased that this took so much time. No, really. This absolutely did not take 12 hours. And in complete coincidence ARTICLE TERMINATED.
Scott Bryan writes a weekly TV column for RadioTimes.com.
Come back next Friday at 12 noon to find out what he investigates next. In the meantime you can follow him on Twitter, if you like.
Line of Duty series five begins on Sunday 31st March on BBC1 at 9pm - here's everything you need to know