As the gripping television show comes to an end tonight, Becky Woods says the cop drama has been the best thing on the box in a long time.
Have you watched Line of Duty? It’s the question I have pretty much asked anyone I’ve spoken to over the last six weeks.
Well, have you? If the answer’s yes, you’ll be as breathless with excitement as I am, because tonight, all will be revealed in this brilliant series full of murder, mystery, and police corruption.
And if the answer’s no, where on earth have you been? Three million of us are addicted to the nerve-shredding drama and have been counting the days down to tonight, when the six-part second series comes to a head.
It’s the twistiest, turniest thing on telly in years, and we’ve all been left wondering who will be unmasked as the show’s villain, or villains.
Some critics say the tightly-plotted series, which is set in a fictional force following the work of police anti-corruption unit AC12, is the best cop drama ever.
One of the biggest mysteries is who plotted the ambush of a police convoy, killing the protected witness they were transporting and three officers in a ferocious fireball.
Another is the disappearance and brutal murder of 15-year-old Carly Kirk. The two may be linked, and also appear to have involved one or more serving police officers.
Prime suspect from the beginning has been DI Lindsay Denton, played by Keeley Hawes. She was the officer who led – accidentally, she says – the police convoy down the country lane where it was attacked by masked men and set on fire.
In the first episode her story was full of holes and her financial situation was in such dire straits it was possible she was could be being bribed or have an axe to grind.
But while the case against her initially appeared to be open and shut, as the weeks went on it has been unravelling and last week, the finger was well and truly pointing at Deputy Chief Constable Mike Dryden, Denton’s former flame and who has been pictured having, erm, relations with Carly Kirk shortly before her murder and he’s potentially got a motive for wanting the protected witness dead.
He insists he’s being set up – but Denton says he’s the one who’s lied through his teeth to put her in the frame.
The first series, filmed in Birmingham, was BBC2’s best-performing drama series in 10 years. And the second looks set to beat those viewing figures with huge public anticipation for tonight’s finale.
Jed Mercurio, Line of Duty’s writer and creator, has revealed he hadn’t decided the ending before he started signing up the actors. “I hadn’t worked it all out yet. I wasn’t 100 per cent clear about the denouement,” he says. “But we did tell the actors before we started filming, so they knew how to play it.”
And he says he’s thrilled at the viewers’ appetite for the climax. “It is fantastic that so many people are talking about it, trying to work out whether Keeley Hawes’s DI Denton, is guilty.”
When Jed, who also wrote The Grimleys and medical drama Cardiac Arrest, sat down to watch footage shot for the final episode of the crime series, he realised a vital bit of information needed to make the resolution gel was not there.
He picked up the phone to find out whether the actor involved was still in Belfast, where filming was taking place.
“Luckily, they had not flown out yet. So we grabbed them and quickly filmed another sequence, which was then edited seamlessly into a scene,” he says. Such is the level of public anticipation that World Productions, which makes the show for the BBC, has had complaints about its trailers.
Producer Simon Heath reveals: “We decided not to run those ‘next week’ tasters after each episode because they give too much away, but we do have to let people know when the show is on.”
If you’ve got it all figured out, you’re better than me. Only one thing is for sure about Line of Duty: It’s guilty of being the best thing on the box for a long time.
By Becky Woods