The new Line Of Duty? Why were so many viewers left baffled by the plot, asks CHRISTOPHER STEVENS

Am I the just one? After weeks of anticipation, awaiting the return of tv’s most clever and heart-stopping thriller, I sat via Line Of Duty (BBC1) on Sunday night time with a combination of frustration and bemused disappointment.

A sequence that when dared to be as witty because it was ingenious — violent, emotional, tense and boisterous in equal measure — was now plain unbelievable. Worse than that, it was incomprehensible. Even worse than that, elements of it were flat-out boring.

Line Of Duty is famend for opening episodes that ship pulsating shocks, with bold set-piece scenes and dramatic deaths. That simply did not occur on Sunday. Not solely were there no explosive surprises, however author Jed Mercurio failed even to gentle the fuse.

Much of the time I used to be left scratching my head over echoes from occasions years in the past, provided with out clarification or context. This present is famend for its sleight of hand and intelligent misdirection — which may be very completely different from merely baffling the viewer with obscure references.

The story veered from the low-key to the depressing. Depression, prescribed drugs, ugly break-ups and petty workplace politics make a dreary combine.

Line of Duty season six. Pictured: DI Kate Fleming (Vicky Mcclure), left, and DCI Joanne Davidson (Kelly MacDonald), centre

Line of Duty season six. Pictured: DI Kate Fleming (Vicky Mcclure), left, and DCI Joanne Davidson (Kelly MacDonald), centre

Most uncomfortable of all was the trademark police interview — the flint-edged detective quizzing a tragic and puzzled man with Down’s syndrome a few crime he couldn’t presumably have dedicated.

The script has develop into a swamp of acronyms, like wading via chilly alphabet soup.

When Line Of Duty launched in 2012, the injections of jargon, spelled out by initials, carried a frisson of pleasure. Once it was revealed that OCG stood for organised crime group and SFC was strategic firearms commander, viewers felt like insiders, initiated right into a harmful world.

But the opening 5 minutes this time were worse than parody. ‘Intel has graded the information 1A on the matrix,’ barked one character, a copper recognized solely as ‘Five-Three’, with a tip-off from a CHIS [Covert Human Intelligence Source]. ‘Mike India two zero, state 5,’ snapped one other.

As the MIT (homicide investigation workforce) leapt right into a convoy of black autos, following ‘the Super’s conflab with the directed surveillance authority’, the present became a parody of itself.

Picture shows DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and, Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), centre

Picture exhibits DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and, Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), centre

I half-wondered if this was some elaborate spoof for Comic Relief, and anticipated Lenny Henry in physique armour to stride into the station barking three-letter instructions into the walkie-talkie on his chest — ‘OMG! FFS! WTF!’ (Switch in your subtitles and also you may uncover that this stands for, ‘On My Go-ahead! Forward Firearms Squad! Wholesale Translation Function!’)

At least Sir Len, at 6 ft 2 in, may play a copper with the conventional construct. If Line Of Duty is to be believed, the skinny blue line now consists principally of ladies so petite, they’re shorter than their extendable truncheons.

Anneika Rose performs PC Farida Jatri, who seems to be about 13.

She’s the vengeful ex-girlfriend of a a lot senior however barely taller officer, DCI Jo Davidson — actress Kelly Macdonald, who was glorious as a gangster’s abused spouse in Boardwalk Empire however who, on the proof of the first hour, is miscast as a profession copper.

Macdonald seems to be hesitant and misplaced in uniform. She has the method of a shy major college instructor. We’re meant to just accept she’s an instinctive crime-buster, in a position to spot an armed theft in progress inside a split-second, simply because the getaway van is badly parked. I battle to imagine she would cope as a lollipop girl.

That’s a let-down, as a result of Line Of Duty has a first-rate report with credible, compelling feminine characters. Vicky McClure as DI Kate Fleming continues to hold off her position with deadpan ambiguity. Has she actually stop the anti- corruption unit to return to abnormal policing? Is she nonetheless loyal to her previous boss, Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), however working undercover? Or is she, as many followers suspect, the final traitor, relaying secrets and techniques to the legal gang?

For me, like many viewers, the sequence was at its peak when Keeley Hawes performed the devious DI Lindsay Denton. Throughout the second and third seasons, we questioned continuously whether or not she was a lady misjudged, or rotten to the core.

She insisted the complete world was towards her and, at instances, she satisfied everybody — together with randy DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston).

He hunts coppers with soiled secrets and techniques however seems intent on sleeping with half the girls on the pressure. Now there is a battle of curiosity.

At the present’s centre is Superintendent Hastings, the one character who wouldn’t look misplaced in the long-ago cop outlets of Z Cars or Softly, Softly.

Line Of Duty has a first-rate record with credible, compelling female characters

Line Of Duty has a first-rate report with credible, compelling feminine characters

Actor Dunbar has imbued Ted with depth by giving him the swagger of a working-class Northern Irishman. The Super’s pet slang has bestowed catchphrases on the present — ‘Mother of God! Now we’re sucking diesel. The letter of the regulation, fella!’ But Ted barely bought a look-in on Sunday night time.

In a few scenes, he appeared a damaged man, at first missing the braveness to order an investigation after which unable to face up to Arnott’s insistence. Not so way back, he’d have despatched his presumptuous junior fleeing from the workplace with one whiskey-saturated roar.

Then he went whinging to his personal boss that she now not invited him to conferences. When she informed him to carry his tongue, he skulked off like a whipped cur.

Hastings has at all times appeared proud — pig-headed, too desperate to belief his instincts once they have continuously proved fallacious — however by no means weak.

Suddenly, he is cringeing like Uriah Heep. It is mindless — and when characters cease making sense, viewers cease caring.

None of this could matter a lot if Line Of Duty were abnormal primetime fare.

We have simply sat via 4 weeks of the ludicrous Bloodlands with James Nesbitt, for instance, and no one feels significantly betrayed by its nonsensical plot or daft ending. Bloodlands was merely insignificant.

But Line Of Duty is completely different. Its creator, Mercurio, talks of it on Radio 4 and BBC Two as a critical indictment of endemic police corruption. Agog viewers comb each scene for clues like forensics officers looking for strands of DNA.

For everybody who, like me, enjoys their telly in lethal earnest, any signal of collapse in Line Of Duty is worrying.

And there are quite a lot of us: 9.6 million folks tuned in on Sunday night time. We love the present — there’s an awesome deal driving on this.

It is a few years since followers’ obsessive loyalty to Game Of Thrones was repaid with a dire ultimate season. Characters turned unrecognisable, storylines fell aside and everybody felt cheated.

Mother of Dragons, fella, nobody desires that to occur once more.


Line Of Duty has a fame for leaving viewers surprised and baffled, with shock twists and sudden deaths.

It is feasible that Sunday’s lacklustre opener was designed to lull us right into a false sense of complacence.

If Ted Hastings is simply biding his time earlier than launching his strike, if Kate Fleming is a double agent working in plain sight, if newcomer Jo Davidson goes to steer us to the legal prime copper referred to as ‘H’, this might but transform a superb season — worthy of all people who have gone earlier than.

But that is not a lot use if you have not bought a clue what is going on on.

And Sunday night time’s starter was decidedly brief on explanations.

For these nonetheless figuring out what they watched, here is what AC-12 may name ‘B-GLOD’ — the Bluffer’s Guide to Line Of Duty.


In Series 4, our man in the fancy waistcoat had a run-in with a villain in a balaclava who was in all probability an undercover officer himself.

Steve was thrown over a banister in an workplace block and fell three flights, touchdown on his again.

With his backbone fractured, it appeared unlikely, at first, that he would ever stroll once more. But after a number of episodes in a wheelchair he made an virtually full restoration.

It does appear, although, that his accidents have left him in power ache, and maybe with an dependancy to opiate-based painkillers. In the new episode we noticed him touring the native pharmacies, shopping for maximum-strength medicine over the counter and later downing them by the handful.


Tommy Jessop performs Terry, a person with Down’s syndrome who’s ruthlessly exploited by the criminals.

DCI Davidson’s squad arrested him on suspicion of the assassination of a journalist, Gail Vella, although it appears apparent that Terry just isn’t able to finishing up such against the law.

We first met Terry in the first sequence, in 2012, although you’d be forgiven for not recognising him. He was performed by a distinct actor, Elliott Rosen.

He’s a big character as a result of the gang used his fridge to retailer the dismembered physique of property developer Jackie Laverty (Gina McKee).

In Sunday night time’s episode, Ted Hastings referred to Terry as a ‘native oddball’, a dismissive time period that provoked an offended response from incapacity campaigners yesterday.

Writer Mercurio defended the language, saying it was a reference to the 1999 homicide of TV presenter Jill Dando.

Police arrested Barry George, who was wrongly imprisoned for the killing. He later stated his solely crime was to be the ‘native oddball’.


The Super was briefly suspended from responsibility in the final sequence, with questions over his behaviour as a younger officer in Northern Ireland, in addition to the puzzle about why he ought to destroy a wonderfully good laptop computer (he says he was ashamed of himself for watching porn — ‘nothing excessive’).

Coincidence or not, we all know that the police mole was feeding information to the criminals from a pc.

To make issues worse, Ted’s estranged spouse was tortured by an undercover police officer, and he’s on the verge of chapter after a disastrous funding — so skint that he may hardly pay the invoice at the low-cost resort the place he bedded down. And his colleague, police lawyer Gill Biggeloe (Polly Walker), was in the pay of the crooks.

In brief, Ted would not have a lot to smile about.


We know she’s a superb spy who has infiltrated different police groups on a number of events. This time, she insists she has stop AC-12 — however she would say that, would not she?

Former accomplice DS Arnott clearly believes she is now not working for anti-corruption, which is why he’s making an attempt to recruit her again. But as to her actual standing, properly, that may be YGIA-GAA (Your Guess Is As Good As Anybody’s).


DCI Davidson claimed to detect a hold-up in progress at a betting store, based mostly on a fleeting glimpse of a getaway automobile. She diverted a police swoop on a homicide suspect, claiming that lives could possibly be in danger from the gunmen.

In the ensuing chaos, one among the robbers was shot. Leave apart the query of whether or not anybody has held up a betting store since 1986 — most of the old-school ‘blaggers’ are in nursing properties today.

What we have to know is whether or not Davidson staged the theft as a diversion to provide the homicide suspect time to change locations with Terry Boyle and escape.

One various clarification is that one other senior officer, maybe Davidson’s weedy superintendent, set it up, figuring out his DCI would spot the van and take motion.


The official Home Office Twitter account confirmed yesterday that CHIS is a real police abbreviation: ‘For those that watched Line Of Duty final night time,’ it stated, ‘CHIS stands for covert human intelligence supply. The work of those undercover brokers is significant in safeguarding victims from critical crimes together with terrorism.’

Back in the days of The Sweeney, they were referred to as informants, or ‘narks’, a politically incorrect time period now considered offensive to anybody who self-identifies as a CHIS.


You may say that. Ten minutes into the episode, a number of viewers who apparently believed they were nonetheless watching Top Gear took to Twitter to complain that one among the automobiles in the police convoy was being performed by two completely different BMWs — the first a saloon with a black radiator grille, the second with chrome trim.

We can solely hope lockdown can be over quickly and these folks can get again to trainspotting.


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