Line of Duty season six is set to be the best yet – here's exactly what to expect from the new series
WE’VE been waiting ages, but TV’s biggest drama is almost back.
With million of viewers left on tenterhooks after the series five finale two years ago, Line Of Duty kicks off again on Sunday – and the BBC1 show’s anti-corruption AC-12 officers have a brand new “bent copper” to probe.
Rod McPhee reveals what the central characters think of series six and how they coped with filming during the pandemic, as well as taking a sneak peek at the upcoming first episode . . .
Adrian Dunbar: Supt Ted Hastings
At the end of series five we saw the plain-talking AC-12 chief narrowly avoid being jailed as arch-criminal H.
He managed to prove his innocence, but is now walking wounded at the start of the new series — and that is not the only big change.
Adrian, 62, said: “The repercussions of the last series have to play themselves out and the landscape has completely changed. I think it’s quite shocking.
“Things have happened in people’s personal lives, people have moved on. I think it’s quite startling what the first episode is like for an audience.
“Ted is put through the wringer, particularly towards the end. But there have been funny moments, too.
“In one of the interviews, I had to say, ‘A bunch of racist thugs’, but I got it wrong and said, ‘A bunch of racist slugs’, which got a big laugh from the crew. I hope that survives on a bloopers reel somewhere so we can all see it.”
1st episode is quite startling …Ted’s through the wringer
The first lockdown last year halted filming and when the team returned they had to socially distance, which made hanging out together largely impossible.
So Adrian is keener than ever to return for yet another series of the drama.
He said: “We must get on to Jed and say we’ve got to do one that’s not been done in lockdown.
“I was working with people in masks for a week before I realised I knew them.”
Vicky McClure: DI Kate Fleming
As Ted’s right-hand woman, DI Fleming appears to have experienced the greatest changes of all the central characters.
Vicky, 37, said: “Series five was a dramatic time for AC-12, so the repercussions and the con- sequences of that are very much what we’ll be stepping into.
“A long time has passed, and in terms of their personal lives, which I think the audience enjoys more now, we start to get more involved as the series has gone on.
“We know that Kate’s never really had a very stable home life and is obsessive with her job, and we very much explore that. There’s just so much going off this series.
“Martin, Adrian and I have said it feels a bit like series three, it’s got a similar tone to it. So there is a fair amount of action.”
Vicky reveals the lengths the crew went to in order to make the set Covid-safe, including creating a whole new version of the key AC-12 interview room.
So much is going off…the repercussions of Series Five
She said: “That’s a no-no for Covid because it’s an enclosed space and it’s a glass box. We shoot it in the BT Tower in Belfast normally.
“So we built that into a studio in Belfast and there was no roof and it was ventilated. It’s much safer to do 20 half-an-hour scenes in that environment.
“We adore our crew and cast and there was no way we wanted to put anybody in harm’s way, so everybody was really cautious.
“We’re extremely proud we got through it with no hiccups.”
Martin Compston: DS Steve Arnott
The last time we saw the hero of the anti-corruption unit he had hit rock bottom and was suffering from impotence as a result of a devastating attack by “Balaclava Man” in series four that left him wheelchair bound.
And in this new season his woes continue.
Martin, 36, said: “Steve kind of sees himself as a bit of a supercop so he doesn’t want to show any weakness and he doesn’t share with anybody his problems.
“In his personal life he’s in a bit of distress.
“He’s really struggling but he’s trying to put on a brave face at work and keep on as best as he can. But you get a feeling there’s a breaking point coming.”
Martin discovered one breaking point . . . to his character’s iconic waistcoats, which didn’t fit after he had drunk too much wine in lockdown.
I’m hungover in that hazmat suit…but no one can tell
When a crash diet and fitness regime failed, he turned to the show’s costume designer.
He said: “She had to do a wee bit of wizardry in week one, letting them out a wee bit for me — your body comes back in a different shape.”
But he says he has found a preferred outfit — the forensic hazmat suits often worn by the characters — which lend themselves to drinking.
Martin admits: “There’s been more than a few times when I’ve been hungover under that suit cos nobody can tell anything.”
Kelly Macdonald: DCI Joanne Davidson
Trainspotting star Kelly felt daunted signing up for such a huge show — particularly as she had never watched it.
But she found the character of Joanne too hard to resist.
Kelly, 45, said: “She doesn’t give much away and you don’t know what to make of her. She’s this unknown entity, sometimes she seems like a friendly face and other times not so much.”
Her initial fears were eased by a quick chat with Keeley Hawes, 45, who played another central suspect, DI Lindsay Denton, in series two and three.
Kelly told the Radio Times: “Keeley was brilliant, she talked me down from the ledge. She said, ‘It might look as though you are being asked to do something completely impossible, but it’s not’.
“I joked to friends when they found out I was going to be in the next series. I said I was going to be the one that breaks Line Of Duty, then Covid happened.”
Keeley Hawes persuaded me this role wasn’t impossible
Despite starring opposite the likes of Steve Buscemi, 63, in TV series Boardwalk Empire and Tommy Lee Jones, 74, in 2007 film No Country For Old Men, Kelly got the wobbles when she was invited for dinner with her new co-stars.
She said: “I work with lots of great people, but there’s always a moment when I’m suddenly outside of myself.
“My moment was with Vicky and Martin going up in the lift to Adrian’s to cook and I suddenly thought about who I was going to be sitting around a table with.”
FIRST REVIEW: ‘SET TO BE THE BEST YET’
FOR a moment it looks like the new series is going to get off to an explosive start.
A team of cops led by DCI Joanne Davidson — the show’s latest “bent copper” — races to a raid armed to the teeth.
But only a single, paltry bullet is fired as the operation ends in disaster.
Disappointing? No way. Real devotees will know this is just a clever cue for the slow-burn intrigue the show is loved for.
It turns out the raid was suspiciously sabotaged — and the prime suspect is Davidson, played by Kelly Macdonald.
Simmering with mystery from her very first scene, Davidson’s complex private and professional life is gradually laid bare in the season opener.
Creator Jed Mercurio (pictured), 55, describes her as “The most enigmatic adversary AC-12 have faced”.
But we don’t yet know if she’ll become one of the show’s greatest villains, on a par with Lennie James’s Tony Gates or Thandie Newton’s Roz Huntley.
After a two-year wait since series five — which has felt like for ever — Jed’s first episode tantalises rather than grips you.
We find AC-12 splintered and its three key heroes — Supt Ted Hastings, DS Steve Arnott and DI Kate Fleming — facing their own personal battles.
The underlying question is: Can they prevail and reunite to uncover their latest foe?
In this episode, all the players and intertwined storylines orbit around the murder of TV reporter Gail Vella, and very quickly we see the obvious link between the new case and some of AC-12’s oldest adversaries.
By the end, you’ve not been bombarded with bombshells and shock twists, but everything is set in place for a series that looks to be the best yet.
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