So who the H-eck is it? For Line of Duty fans, the wait is nearly over. So report to the briefing room as the Mail’s own dogged detective sifts the final clues to finger who’s the master villain in our line-up, writes INSPECTOR JAN MOIR
Evening all. Inspector Moir here. Your immediate attendance is required in the incident room, where there will be a briefing on events to date.
As you know, tomorrow night the series finale of Line Of Duty (BBC One, 9pm) is scheduled to take place. It is no secret that this might be the last show ever, then again it might not. Nobody knows anything, as usual. Please consult your folders and be aware we are in an ongoing ACAM (As Clear As Mud) situation.
Worst case scenario? That this might be the last time Chief Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) walks the mean streets looking for bent coppers who don’t follow the letter of the law, while asking God to give him strength.
It seems unlikely — or does it? — that Detective Inspector Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and DI Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) will meet again in the underpass to thereupon call each other mate and pass on complicated information.
As you know, tomorrow night the series finale of Line Of Duty (BBC One, 9pm) is scheduled to take place. It is no secret that this might be the last show ever, then again it might not. Nobody knows anything, as usual
It has taken six series and nearly 40 dizzying episodes to bring us to this crucial point, to where a mystery that stretches back to the very first scenes in 2012 might finally be solved. Exactly who is the last senior corrupt police officer working for the Organised Criminal Group (OCG); the elusive mastermind behind the network of lawbreaking that has engulfed Central Police since day one?
We should know the answer very soon. For as the current series draws to a close, there is a sense of ends being tied up as we hurtle towards the final reckoning.
Fellow officers, on the eve of this monumental showdown, our duty ahead is clear. Put down your burner phones, straighten your bad backs and listen carefully.
If it falls to me to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted policing with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of fair play, so be it. But I need your help.
Come with me now to rummage under the slanket of suspicion, to boil wash the veils of secrecy as we treat underling and overlord with the same unflinching sense of justice. Together we will unmask the last culprit, or die in the attempt. Chloe, pin the photographs of the prime suspects on to the whiteboard please. Let’s get started . . .
DS IAN BUCKELLS
Bent as a hairpin, but Buckells (Nigel Boyle) is too much of a dope to be important. A minor player in a bigger game, or is he playing us all for fools? ‘I don’t know why I don’t know,’ he blubbed in the interrogation room. Same here.
VERDICT: Guilty — albeit on a smaller scale
CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT TED HASTINGS
Alpha Charlie One Zero aka The Boss, The Gaffer or Darling Ted, as I like to call him
Alpha Charlie One Zero aka The Boss, The Gaffer or Darling Ted, as I like to call him. Could he possibly be the last H, the blackest of all pips in the barrel of bad apples? Stop it. Ted has been a beacon of probity since day one.
No one cares about rooting out blue-on-blue criminality more than the Gaffer. ‘I’m interested in one thing only, and that is catching bent coppers,’ he says, but why is everyone out to catch him? Under all the pressure, he is still Hastings like the Battle but increasingly he is Teddy like the Bear, too. All hurt button eyes, with his stuffing falling out.
Big Ted has made mistakes. Financial problems have left him vulnerable to blackmail. We suspect he may have tipped off the OCG that undercover officer John Corbett (Stephen Graham) had infiltrated their ranks. When Corbett was killed, Hastings slipped his widow Stephanie an envelope containing £50,000 in cash.
But if Ted doesn’t emerge as the squeaky clean hero of this entire drama, I will hand in my police badge. Catch yourself on, fella. It just can’t be the man who sucked both diesel and eggs on his journey up the Lagan in a bubble.
I have my doubts about this wee lassie. What is Steph (Amy De Bhrún) even doing in this series, if not to arouse suspicions? Many viewers spotted she had the letter H displayed on her kitchen tiles; by accident or design? And why does Arnott keep visiting — it can’t be just to explore her dusty loft. Settle down, that’s not a euphemism.
They did indeed go to bed together, but didn’t have sex because Steve’s back was ‘hurting’. Didn’t stop him shimmying up the pull-down ladder after she’d gone to her ‘hairdressing’ job though, did it?
DETECTIVE INSPECTOR STEVE ARNOTT
Let’s not waste any time. It is simply not him.
It has to be him. It HAS to be him! Big boss Osborne (Owen Teale) is mired in corruption right up to the scrambled egg decoration on his peaked cap. He has risen from Chief Inspector to the top job and has connections to all the bent officers and dodgy cases over all six series. But it is so obviously him that it cannot possibly be him, am I right?
THE WEE DONKEY
DEPUTY CHIEF CONSTABLE ANDREA WISE
Ma’am is second in command of Central Police and seems to spend her office hours denying AC-12 authority to mount operations and chase baddies.
‘You have had enough time already, Ted,’ she often will say after summoning the Gaffer to her office like a headmistress twitching to thrash her naughtiest pupil.
Pursed of lip and bunned of hair, DCC Wise has already informed Hastings that the AC-12 budget is to be cut by 90 per cent, so bang go the digestives at teatime.
In episode four, she was urging him to retire voluntarily or be sacked for continued defiance. Why does she want to get rid of him so badly? Such administrative infighting has a very dark undercurrent, but Ma’am doesn’t play golf and isn’t a mason. Seems unlikely to have risen high in the OCG.
DETECTIVE CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT PATRICIA CARMICHAEL
Where to start? There is no reason for anti-corruption officer DCS Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) to be quite so ghastly, but she soaks up her repugnance like a croc in a muddy creek, with only the nostrils visible above the police slime
Where to start? There is no reason for anti-corruption officer DCS Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) to be quite so ghastly, but she soaks up her repugnance like a croc in a muddy creek, with only the nostrils visible above the police slime.
She believes that Hastings is the corrupt H and would love to prove it, if only she could.
But note that she also stands to benefit the most from Ted’s demise, as she is due to take command of the new joint professional standards department, merging AC-12 with other anti-corruption units and signalling the end of Ted’s career.
Could such an obvious pantomime villain really be H? Yet during the interrogation of Davidson, she shut down any useful lines of enquiry about the OCG.
DETECTIVE CHIEF INSPECTOR MARCUS THURWELL
To be dead or not to be dead? Thurwell (James Nesbitt) has yet to make an actual appearance in the show and has inconveniently been gunned down before he could raise his eyebrows in surprise. OR HAS HE? Could his have been the face behind one of the Spanish policeman’s masks that kept flashing up during the raid of a Spanish property?
He might well be H — and also the mystery man Acting Detective Superintendent Joanne Davidson ‘definately’ thinks is her father.
POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER ROHAN SINDWHANI
Sindwhani (Ace Bhatti) has fallen out with Osborne and has been fighting behind the scenes for AC-12. Says his previous hostility was a front and that Ted must get on with exposing the conspiracy behind Operation Lighthouse, Central Police and the OCG. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
DETECTIVE INSPECTOR KATE FLEMING
I am not ruling her out. Something has been going on with Hastings in this series, with a higher than usual quota of FL (Funny Looks) between the two
I am not ruling her out. Something has been going on with Hastings in this series, with a higher than usual quota of FL (Funny Looks) between the two. Did she really leave AC-12, or has she been deep undercover all this time?
Fleming is always there, isn’t she? Except when she is not. There is still no explanation as to why she fled the scene after shooting Ryan Pilkington (Gregory Piper) with a double tap in episode five — but OCG operatives are always killing each other to shut each other up. In the meantime, was she trying to expose Jo Davidson or frame her?
ACTING DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDENT JOANNE DAVIDSON
SIO (Senior Investigating Officer) of the MIT (Murder Investigation Team) Davidson seemed like a BU (Bad ‘Un) from the start.
In episode one, she was travelling at 100MPH (Miles Per Hour) in a convoy en route to apprehending a murder suspect. She spotted someone trying to steal a packet of sweets in a corner shop and halted the convoy, enabling the OCG suspect to escape. Seems keen on a bit of KMK (Kiss Me Kate) with DI Fleming, but so far there has been no HKPK (Hanky Panky). She cries too much at home to be a baddie.
SIO (Senior Investigating Officer) of the MIT (Murder Investigation Team) Davidson seemed like a BU (Bad ‘Un) from the start
DETECTIVE SERGEANT CHRIS LOMAX
Hello, hello, hello. Chris (Perry Fitzpatrick) drinks in the Red Lion, drifts about in the background and has no obvious links to anyone. Behind his expression of assumed innocence, he is watchful and sly. Seems alarmed Kate wants to dig up the floor of Kingsgate Printing Services — but why?
VERDICT: Dodgy. Guilty of something, but what?
MOTHER OF GOD, THAT’S A LOT OF BENT COPPERS
Last week’s episode reached 13 million viewers, a record for the drama since ratings began in 2014. This series, the show’s sixth, is averaging 12.4 million viewers. It leaped to 9.4 million in series four after transferring from BBC2, where it got 3.8 million viewers in its first series.
Over six series, some 41 named characters have met their end — plus a fair number of unnamed masked men, other OCG goons and one dog.
26 bent coppers
As Ted Hastings always says, that’s what it’s all about — catching bent coppers. And what a lot there have been.
Hastings is one of the 26 — he has questions to answer over the £50,000 in an envelope which he seems to have passed to John Corbett’s widow.
£12 polo neck
Kate Fleming isn’t one for big numbers when it comes to her wardrobe. The black polo neck she likes cost £12 from M&S. Her suits, by Me + Em and The Fold, cost around £400.
Since it started on June 26, 2012 — Sunday’s finale will be number 36.
2 filming locations
Series one was filmed in Birmingham, production has since moved to Belfast. The distinctive AC-12 building — known as ‘Kingsgate House’ is actually the Invest Northern Ireland HQ.
£100,000 per hour budget
The budget for the hour-long show is at the top end for a drama. The BBC show is made by World Productions, now owned by ITV Studios.
Star Martin Compston had to diet in order to fit back into his made-to-measure LOD clothes after lockdown.
‘I asked our lovely costume designer to leave Steve’s suits in my room so I could try them on as they were all tailored. That was a really tough day — I was bursting out of everything! It was water, soup and an exercise bike for two weeks.’
Ted Hastings’s famous phrase: ‘I didn’t float up the Lagan in a bubble’ has inspired a spray painted mural in Belfast.
Created in late 2020 by college student Caoilfhionn Hanton, it was an instant hit: ‘I wanted to do something based on a local figure that people in the city would really appreciate,’ she said.
Vicky McClure revealed a bizarre on-set in-joke where the cast call each other ‘29’. She said: ‘Calling each other “29” has stuck since day one. Neil Morrissey [who played DC Nigel Morton] asked me what the time was, and I just said “29” and now it’s how we all refer to each other.’
Nobody will say how much money writer Jed Mercurio has made from his mega-hit, but sources suggest that he is paid around £300,000 a series.
Even if he started off on half that, and saw his pay increase with the show’s success, it could add up to nearly £1.5 million.
The iconic Kate Fleming haircut was created — and is tended to — by hairdresser Louis Byrne. He is bookable by the general public on Sundays, when he works out of the John Frieda salon in central London. He charges £160 for a cut.
The show has been twice nominated for a Bafta — in 2015 and 2018 — but has never won.
Actors Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure, Keeley Hawes and Thandiwe Newton have all been nominated for LOD, and have all come away empty-handed.
Series creator Jed Mercurio accused the organisation of giving gongs to its ‘chums’ and said: ‘I think there’s room for reform.’
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