You’d have to have been hiding under a rock to not know that the much-awaited series 6 of Line of Duty has hit our screens. After all the hype, cliffhangers and the promise of finally revealing who the elusive “H” is, was it worth the wait? Yes… and no.
Line of Duty is probably the BBC’s biggest hit show right now. I was rather late to the party on this, coming in after series 4 in 2017 and binge-watching the entire show in the space of a few weeks, and needless to say, I was hooked from then on. The show follows Anti-Corruption Unit 12 (AC-12) of fictional Central Police, with each series focusing on one central case of police corruption. The unit is headed by Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), with DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and DI Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) as his main team of investigators. Throughout each individual case/series, there has been a wider storyline concerning a wide-ranging organised crime group (OCG) working with a network of corrupt police officers. At the end of series 5, AC-12 have managed to track down all members of this OCG and the police officers connected to them, except for the elusive fourth man known as “H”.
Series 6 follows the case of Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson (Kelly Macdonald), the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) of Operation Lighthouse, an investigation into the murder of journalist Gail Vella. With Kate Fleming now on her team, Davidson receives a tip-off from a covert source with a location of a viable suspect for the murder. On route to intercept, Davidson diverts the response teams after witnessing an armed robbery at a bookmakers. Whilst this diversion causes a delay, Davidson is still able to arrest a suspect however questions soon arise as to whether this suspect is capable of such a crime. This, alongside other questionable actions and delays from Davidson, causes a Sergeant within Jo’s team to report her concerns to AC-12 for them to investigate, which unveils yet more links to institutionalised corruption and OCGs.
Police procedural dramas are two a penny and there are many that don’t rise above anything other than average, but fortunately, Line of Duty is definitely well above average. While there might be murders involved, the corruption angle is a great new spin on police dramas and this show pulls this off incredibly well. I’m sure anti-corruption isn’t quite as sexy and interesting in real life, but it makes for a very good show. It is of course helped by a fantastic cast, with some cracking one-liners uttered by Adrian Dunbar’s Hastings, and a decent amount of action, blood and gore interspersed with some rather tense and suspenseful interview scenes. The geek in me also loves the smaller aspects of the series and the little nods to real-life policing, like the lanyards, the glass-filled maze-like offices and the constant use of acronyms. Having personal experience working in this sector, I can wholeheartedly vouch for the authenticity of all of these little nuances.
There was a lot of pressure on series 6 to deliver. After the build-up over 5 series and the hype around the fourth man, this new series had a lot to answer for and for the most part it succeeded, however, it was not entirely without its faults. The first few episodes were rather slow, but fortunately, it did pick up from episode 3 onwards with some rather nail-biting and infuriating cliffhangers. The reveal of “H” was also quite unexpected and for me, this wasn’t entirely in a good way. It made me wonder if this was really it to the story and if there wasn’t another person higher up still pulling the strings – it almost raised more questions than answers. This, along with a major red herring that had me crying out in frustration, made the ending to this series a tad unsatisfying.
Despite the slightly unfulfilling reveal and the same formulaic storytelling we’ve seen in the past 5 series, I still found myself engrossed in the plot and the great performances, one-liners and intense interview scenes all made for some engaging viewing. While series 6 may appear to have wrapped this up rather neatly, I feel like this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Line of Duty and I for one would still be intrigued to see more.