Why We’re So Excited About The Return Of Line Of Duty
Why have we had to wait so long?
When the first advert for the new series of Line of Duty ended with ‘Coming soon’, it didn’t take long for fans of the drama to play detective and work out that the show would replace Baptiste (which ended on Sunday) to reclaim its rightful place in the 9pm Sunday night slot this weekend.
Ever since the show hit our screens in 2012, we’ve been fully engrossed in the lives of AC-12 – the fictional anti-corruption police unit who investigate any internal wrong-doings within the force itself. The show’s success came to a climax in 2017, when Thandie Newton joined the cast and set Twitter aflame for six glorious Sunday nights (10.4m people tuned in for the finale), as producer and writer Jed Mercurio added everything from anti-terror to amputations to the office’s Monday morning post-show analysis.
And then there was Bodyguard. Alongside Killing Eve, Mercurio’s Bodyguard was last year’s runaway hit – on both sides of the pond – going on to win a couple of Golden Globes in the process. Featuring Line of Duty alumni such Keeley Hawes, the programme became the nation’s must-watch show – but at the expense of our yearly dose of Line of Duty. Thankfully, this Sunday the steely trio will return to our screens once more. So, what can we expect?
What’s the premise?
Back in series one, DS Steve Arnott was transferred to AC-12 after a mistaken shooting during a counter-terrorist operation. Led by Superintendent Hastings, AC-12’s Arnott and newcomer DC Kate Fleming were assigned to lead an investigation into the alleged corruption by a popular and successful officer, DCI Tony Gates. While Gates cleverly manipulates his unit's figures, Arnott questions whether Gates is being made a scapegoat for a culture of institutionalised spin or is guilty of darker corruption. Since then, the trio has investigated numerous dark crimes within the police department – all via some of the best interrogation scenes on TV – but are many of them linked? In series five we’ll finally get some answers.
Who are the stars?
Given the high body count on the show, we’re shocked the series’ three protagonists have made it this far. First up we have Adrian Dunbar as Superintendent Ted Hastings, the old-school officer who – it was hinted at in series four – has a bit of a dodgy past. Martin Compston returns as the newly bearded DS Steve Arnott. He’s no longer in his wheelchair, as per series four, but the attack has done nothing to dent his conviction. Then there’s Vicky McClure as DI Kate Fleming. This series she’s more determined than ever to get to expose the web of lies within the force, even if those in AC-12 are compromised along the way.
New for this series is Stephen Graham. Best known for playing Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire and the brutal Combo in This Is England, expect to encounter the most violent of all AC-12’s adversaries yet. He plays John Corbett, who’s finally unveiled as the leader of the mysterious ‘Balaclava Men’, who have been causing havoc for AC-12 throughout the show via a string of brutal crimes, including 2017’s attack on Arnott. Cold and calculating, it’s a thrilling bit of casting. By Corbett’s side is Lisa McQueen (Rochenda Sandall), another key player in organised crime – and she refuses to be underestimated.
Then, crucially, there’s WPC Maneet Bindra, played by Maya Sondhi. AC-12’s administrative support for the last two series, she’s been a somewhat minor character – until now. Last series we saw that she’d become a reluctant informer on AC-12 for crooked cop ACC Hilton, who was killed at the end of series four. This weekend, Maneet’s back from maternity leave, but will she still be forced to dish the dirt on Hastings and co from another inside man? We hope not.
What can we expect from series five?
The series gets off to a typically explosive start. When three police officers are shot dead in broad daylight during the hijack of a seized-drugs transport, Hastings and his team immediately clock that there must have been a police insider passing on information – and so begins a new AC-12 investigation. As the body count rises and gets closer to home, the trio realise they are up against their most destructive opponent yet.
For the first time, the show’s lead suspect isn’t a corrupt police officer, but the leader of an Organised Crime Group. But who’s overseeing Corbett? That’s the biggest question of all, and one that series five will finally investigate. The identity of the shadowy figure known only as ‘H' has been a national obsession ever since we heard the recording of DI Dot Cottan’s dying declaration at the end of series three. There are several candidates – ACC Hilton, abusive former councillor Les Hargreaves – but for most fans the evidence points at Hastings himself. The moral compass of the show, it would be heart-breaking to learn that he’s a bent copper after all this time. But seven years after the show’s start, a question mark still hangs over the head of the AC-12 boss. And given Mercurio’s trademark twists and turns, we’ve learned to never rule anything out.
What else is new?
For the first time, the BBC has launched a podcast for fans, which will run alongside the show, providing extra insight and gossip. Obsessed With Line Of Duty will provide post-episode chat from comedians and Line of Duty super-fans Lolly Adefope and Brett Goldstein, plus special guests including celebrity fans and cast members to tease out the clues, delve into each conspiracy theory and explore every aspect of the show. Looks like our obsession is set to continue.
When can I watch it?
Line of Duty series five starts at 9pm on Sunday 31st March, BBC1
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